A lot of ambition for a low price of admission
thewastedyouth wrote this review on .
Graphically, it's no showboat, that's for sure, but it's competent--especially for the price. The character models look like high-end original XBOX models, but the environments, especially texture-wise, are rather lacking. I had seen the previews and the price tag, so I wasn't going in expecting Crysis; but if you're a graphics whore, you will be quite disappointed. Regardless of the low polygon count and texture resolutions, I really liked the game's atmosphere--the environments are intriguing and surreal which really helps maintain the game's mood.
The story is captivating and very well done with a competent cast, especially for a budget title, to help keep you engaged for the 20+ hour campaign. It's an odd blend of surreal horror and quirky humor that manages to work well together. It's quite unlike anything you'll experience in a big budget title... the game takes a lot of risks, which is probably why it ended up being a budget title (ie. if they produced the game with a larger budget, if it flopped, the loss would have been much greater--so, they managed to take risks with a low budget to see if it was a formula that worked).
The gameplay may feel a bit dated, but I grew up on games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil and I honestly think it works well for a horror game because it adds a layer of intensity instead of making your character an indestructible superhuman space marine. You're placed in a free roaming town with plenty of places to explore and things to do... like more things to do than a lot of 60 dollar games these days. The vehicle segments can be a chore because they handle like bricks on square wheels, so that's a bit disappointing, but not an entirely game-breaking experience because they're not really a huge part of the game. Some really creative things were done with the time cycle and character management--your character will grow a beard as time progresses, so you can shave that to keep your image more appealing to those around you... if you don't change your clothes regularly, flies will gather around you... stuff like that. It's quite fascinating and is something you don't normally see in games.
The sound design would be my biggest complaint... it's like watching an old movie where the music is so loud and the dialogue is so quiet that it's almost hard to pay attention to what's going on. I turned the bgm music down to 30 and have the voices volume at 100% and it still had issues, so I put on subtitles. The music can also be a buzz kill with only a few songs that cycle during character interactions and key plot points... some of them feel really out of place (there's one happy little diddy with whistling that is just odd to hear when you're investigating a murder... and it WILL get stuck in your head).
If you can muscle through some torturous tunes, the game is really a treat. It has an engaging story with a lot of charm of its own that you won't find in most mainstream games, a lengthy campaign, and a very affordable price. It may not be a looker, but even had this game been released with the standard $40 budget price, it would have been well worth the cash--so, $20 is quite the steal.