A one-man Indie game (created by one Endre Barath) Dead Cyborg won’t just be one single game but a series of three episodes each which apparently contain 2 to 3 hours of gameplay. Episode 1 is now available for download and so I got it and tried it out.
It’s an unusual game, which is to be expected really, one man Indie games need to be fairly unique to get much attention. What makes this one particularly unusual is that the style of play is based on really old fashioned games. On the website it actually says “If… you like the old text adventures or the sci-fi classics… you will like this game”. The style of gameplay is in an FPS view, but there are no weapons and no enemies. You simply go around solving puzzles (for example finding some keys to make a gun work which will get you a method of opening the door to the next stage) in you’re attempt to escape.
The gameplay itself is a little unusual in that you use the arrow keys to look around and WASD to move. That means, no mouse control on the character. Now I’ve seen a few complaints about this, but frankly I quite like it. It works well and gives the game a slightly more deliberate feel, which you would expect if your character was extraordinarily weak. More so, there is not reason for a mouse to be used for looking about as the game is not about speed or about shooting anything.
It looks and feels quite eerie, as you would expect of a post-apocalyptic vault where you are the only apparent survivor. So I’m going to say kudos to the creator for a job well done on getting the visuals to actually look rather good, for a solo project, and for making the atmosphere so depressing.
As I can see it the game is pretty damn well made and speaks volumes for the amount of work that went into it. And more work will have to go into it as the next two episodes are not yet out.
However, my praise for the game ends at “Really well done” unfortunately. It is a rather old fashioned style of game and is based largely around exploring the areas of the game. The idea is that you solve little puzzles to get further in each stage and to prove that I haven’t just blown it off straight away I did complete two of the four stages in Episode One. That was, however, enough for me to form my opinion.
It’s not bad. Not in any way is the game bad. What it is, is it’s frustrating! It’s annoying! It’s a down-right pain in the neck!
The game is based around exploration and puzzles. So you look around the area you are in (which tend to be fairly small, which is a bonus in this case) and you interact with the objects around you. Some of the objects are just useless junk (literally… that’s what they say), some of them give little snippets of information about the outside world, the people who used to be trapped in here with you and the robots who run the place and a few occasional bits and pieces are necessary to finish whatever puzzle is required to get to the next area. That is all well and good. The frustration comes when you realise how unbelievably difficult it is to find the bits and pieces you need. And when you do finally find it, you get driven slightly crazy as you berate yourself for not noticing it in the first place.
Let me give you an example: at one part of the game your progress is impeded by three force-fields for which you need to find three key cards. The first I found swiftly enough, behind a hidden grate. The second took 10 minutes and was behind a metallic cob-web. For the second I scanned every single room clicking on everything I could, I was about to give up actually when I happened to see it behind a barrel I’d walked past about a hundred times during the 10 minutes. For the third one I lost my temper and had to spend a little time killing things on a different game to cool off. After having scanned every single barrel, box, corner, shadowy area, computer, piece-of-writing-on-the-wall and interact-able object in the area I got bored and checked a guide. It turns out the final card was in a small compartment under a loose panel in the floor. In With this knowledge, if I were to do it again, I could find it in seconds.
Therein lies the major problem with the game. You need an almost inexhaustible supply of patience and you need to then be willing to spend this supply checking every single corner of the game. And I mean: Every. Single. Corner.
So there you have it, a good game overall, but really frustrating, and definitely an acquired taste. Also there is no video to go with this game. It is quite slow paced and so doesn’t really come across very well when you aren’t playing it.