Is the game hard? Of course it’s hard, you get killed in one hit, bad guys come out of nowhere, you are never prepared for what is coming next, you will literally retry the same ROOM 30-50 times before beating it, only to die from some stray bullet the second you open the next door. It is trial and error bullshit at it’s best.
But it works!
This game’s developers have mastered the art of trial and error gameplay. When you die there is no waiting time, you are back into the action at the press of a button. Each section (floor) is only 1-3 minutes long, so no matter when you get killed it will only take you a minute or two to get right back to were you died. There are no lives, no continues, only your gun, wits, and respawn button. You don’t need to get concerned with trying out a variety of strategies no matter how absurd because if they fail you lose almost no progress.
The gameplay is fast paced and fluid. The enemies are stupid and predictable. Levels almost feel like a logic puzzle, trying to manipulate the enemies into doing what you want, but with just enough randomness to keep your on your toes. After you lose count of how many times you have tried, you enter a zen-like state of murder rage. It is almost peaceful.
The music plays a vital role. It keeps you moving, it keeps you bouncing in your seat. Each track gives it’s respective level a unique feeling, and when you die the music carries the action forward, There is no break. The music tugs you back into the dance of death no matter how many times it takes to get the steps right. I highly recommend getting the soundtrack, at least check it out on youtube.
Story (Spoiler Alert)
To be honest, I felt this was a huge letdown. I was actually really into the story as it progressed. I wanted to know who was calling “Jacket” and why he was doing what they said. Who is trying to kill the Russian mafia, for what reason? Why does Jacket hallucinate and have visions? Why is that guy at the stores giving him everything for free? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? You get no answers. Even when you play the second act as “Helmet” who is much more cognizant and actually trying to get the answers, you pretty much get nothing meaningful. It’s pretty frustrating to create this weird creepy atmosphere and then never tie up the loose ends…
Considering how masterfully the developers created a high tension trial/error action game, I find several massive blunders in the game design. First is the absolutely horrible hospital level called Trauma. In this level you need to sneak out of the hospital without being spotted by anyone, no murder. You are just a confused and dizzy patient, and you need to sneak out. The section takes a long time, doesn’t do anything for the story, and it’s infuriating. As if sneaking around isn’t’ bad enough, the character is also drugged up and wobbles around, and if you walk to long without stopping you need to have a migraine and stand still for a while. It was not fun, the change of pace was not welcome.
Along the same lines, the game has several boss fights, and when you die on them (which you will 10-20 times) you need to go through the dialogue every time. This is a huge misstep, why not just restart right at the “go” point? Why do I need to hear the bad guys line over and over? This is pretty textbook design stuff guys, why do this?
The shortcommings are minor. The gameplay is top notch and the fun factor can’t be beat. I don’t beat games very often anymore. I beat this game, and I had a blast doing it. I will let my gameplay footage speak for itself.