I avoided this game for the longest time, in fact I kept avoiding it even after I purchased it. As I purchased it almost exactly 3 years ago for Christmas as a present to my father. But since we shared the steam library it was available for me to play ever since. But I digress. You're not interested in how and when I got the game. The main reason for avoiding was my usual phobia of games that are overhyped. They almost never live up to those inflated expectations. And this game is not the exception unfortunately.
My first impression of the game was that it is very oldschool. It feels at least 10 years behind its time. So it's a shooter reminiscent of HL2. It would've been mighty imprissive if it came out in the mid 2000s. Now, it felt nothing extra. The graphics is dated as well. But the main reason it felt so oldschool is the gameplay and the shooting mechanics. One could argue that it was intentional, but it didn't feel like an homage to oldschool games. I couldn't look at it as a throwback. But these were just my first impressions after the first forty odd minutes of play.
What I found puzzling is that the game doesn't seem to have a style, it's ever changing. It reminded me of dozens of other games, but the similarities are most striking when compared to HL2 and Escape from Butcher Bay. But the problem was that it doesn't try to do better than the games it uses for inspiration. It tries it's hand at everything, but doesn't go all the way. Just as you start to acquire the taste for the thing it makes you do, you find yourself in another chapter doing an entirely different mission. And the fetch quests in the hideout between missions doesn't help at all. They even put a little reference in the game about those errands. I think the devs intended that as a meta joke, but unfortunately the problem is dead serious. Those fetch quests were completely unnecessary and didn't add anything of value to the game nor the story. In fact the entire hideout was unnecessary, or at least not utilized well. It could've been great if you could actually do something meaningful at the hideout, besides your errands, like talk to other resistance members.
As mentioned the game never settles on a style, it started as an on rails shooter, with lots of scripted sequences. Then it was reminding me of codename eagle, and then it moved on to being a corridor shooter, with lots of annoying and unnecessary jump scares. And this all happened in the first 25% of the game. It's not a problem that it's varied, but it was just confusing at times. Especially when it wasn't clear what are you supposed to be doing. Sometimes the game wouldn't give any clues on what to do, while other times it narrated you every step of the way. This inconsistency made the game annoying at times. It is as if every level was made by a completely different team, and they didn't exchange notes.
The shooting itself is fairly good, but the feedback on hits is not clear enough. This also adds to the confusion, when you don't know that you have to shoot an enemy with regular weapons or do something else. Especially when it alternates between the two without any indication like during the final bossfight. But even when fighting regular enemies when they're far away you can't really tell if you're damaging them or not. And unfortunately this goes both ways, there is no clear visual / audible indication when you're getting hurt or how much you're getting hurt. So I constantly had to keep an eye on the HP monitor on the HUD to be able to tell if I'm taking too much damage or I can take it. There is also a constant ammo shortage in the game, enemies drop very little ammo, and picking up the dropped ammo is not automatic, you have to go to all fallen enemies and press the interact key individually on each dropped weapon. That alone probably accounts for a quarter of the alredy short playtime.
I started playing the game on the death incarnate difficulty but I realized that this game has no added value to it when playing on higher difficulties. So after about a third of the way in I decided to drop the difficulty to the easiest, and it changed nothing in terms of enjoyment, the game still felt exactly the same. Unlike some "modern" shooters that become entirely different games when playing on hard/realistic mode. Here the difficulty setting does nothing else but increases hp of enemies and decreases yours. Drastically. And I fucking hate bullet sponge enemies, so playing on the easiest actually made the game more enjoyable as enemies succumbed to shots more realistically. But some are bullet sponges even on easy. And honestly the last few chapters didn't feel a walk in the park even on this difficulty setting. If you walk into enemy fire you still die in just a few short seconds unless you have lots of armor.
There is no way to sugarcoat it, the AI is just extremely dumb in the game. Enemies are very easy to sneak up on, like they have no peripheral vision whatsoever. And even when they detect you, strangely they start walking in the wrong direction and not towards you. You can run up to them almost all the way from behind before going to sneak. The only sign of strategy is from commanders who tend to pull back when detecting you instead of rushing you like all the rest.
I expected the game to have oozes of cool steampunk weapons, instead it has pretty common ones. Pistol, Assault Rifle, Shotgun, Sniper rifle, and some energy rifle you only get on one level. Speaking of which your weapons don't carry over between levels. Which is more odd than annoying. You also get a laser cutter midway trough the game that can be used as a fairly powerful weapon, but it drains energy quickly so only good as a last resort.
The story is not much but it was enjoyable until almost the very end. The game's basic premise is plausible until the brain in a tube sequence. Which seemed completely stupid. No amount of suspension of disbelief gets me to believe that shit. Well actually the secret league of jews was already pretty over the top. Not the fact that there would be a league of super intelligent jews, but that they hide all that knowledge. It makes no sense. Hey we invented this cool thing, you know what we could do with it? Bury it under the ocean where none can find it! It's morally questionable that you'd rather hide knowledge than to use it to better humanity. As the inventions weren't even weapons, and had tons of practical usage scenarios outside of warfare.
My other issue with the story was that most of the time the resistance had no plans, they just relied on the unending luck of Blaskowic! Of course it is just a game that's why you have all that lucky breaks, that's true for any game. But the characters in the story shouldn't plan their moves as if they knew they are in a game, you see my problem? In other games plans are realistic and then they go wrong, and you come out victorious despite the odds. Here the story just simply ignores the odds, and the plans include things like taking over an entire base single-handedly. Of course when you first liberate the resistance it makes sense that you don't have any plans, you're the muscle you crave revenge, and you're alone. But this head in first without any plan attitude remains trough the entire game, and it makes absolutely zero sense.
- Some well designed levels
- Throwback to so many other games
- Interesting characters
- Fairly interesting story with some tense moments
- you're a superman, but even the other characters in the story presume that.
- to few and uninteresting weapons
- no visual / audible feedback on hits
- No consistency to gameplay
- No value in higher difficulty settings
- Manual ammo collection
- Badly utilized hideout
- Some parts are over narrated while other times you get no clue on what you should do
- Feels like they wanted to put too much in the game, and ended up half-assing most things.
- It's a bronze sword in the iron age.
- Someone please explain to these devs how gravity works.
Overall impression: 6/10
It's not a bad game, because it's not a bad game. But I failed to find anything in it that would justify its cult status.