After playing the magical Dust: An Elysian Tail I was looking forward to the next Summer of Arcade game. The first game from a company called Tequila Works could surely do no wrong.
Meet Randall Wayne, a man stuck in the hell of 1986. A plague has devastated mankind, with only a few left stranded. Those who succumb to the illness become shadows, undead who seek flesh. Now you must try get to the safe point, to be reunited with your family.
For the most part you are alone and unarmed. a gravelly monologue, reminiscent of Max Payne, punctuates the bleak, sombre city of Seattle. The dead world is wonderfully rendered in the Unreal engine. Using 2.5D, you scroll past a fully 3D world, full of wrecked buildings and war zones.
So begins your adventure in this “cinematic survival horror puzzle platformer”. I will wait here while you get through that description again. Sadly, what it ends up being, is a game that tries hard to be too many things, without being good at any of them. The platforming is easy, with very little in the way of any increase in difficulty through the story, which is just as well as the controls are clunky. The puzzles are horribly simplistic, with only one possible solution, which is, for the most part, painfully obvious. The downfall of this is the near pinpoint precision required for some of the puzzles, something which becomes annoying thanks to sloppy aiming controls.
Cinematic survival horror is an odd one. You spend a lot of time running away from things, leaping off buildings etc. to escape various mobs that want you dead. Sadly cinematic also comes down to highly scripted, with certain sections requiring very specific actions and reactions, otherwise death ensues. Which it does, often. With no penalty for death except a far too bright red screen and a load back to the last checkpoint, the survival aspect becomes a farce, losing a lot of atmosphere, especially after hearing the same monologue for the third time. This trial and error feeling permeates the whole game, eroding the premise and atmosphere of survival.
Besides brief conversations and monologues, in which the voice acting seems to get worse through the course of the game, players can collect audio tapes and diary entries. Sadly, Randall’s handwriting is absolutely atrocious, make delving into the mind of the protagonist more of a chore than anything else. The story, which starts off interestingly enough, with great illustrated cutscenes, derails itself by being far too predictable. Getting the feeling of having either read or watched this before is not good in any medium, and the number of hints border on insulting.
A short game with little replay value that tries to do everything and does them badly, resulting in a stitched together Frankenstein monster instead of a masterpiece. When you strip everything away, you have a two hour long game selling at full price.
Hopefully Tequila Works takes the strengths of their graphics, atmosphere and art style going forward to their next game.
Last Updated: September 4, 2012