This is a true challenge to review but here goes my best shot.Story
You start the game in a room filled with strangers, some of them not very friendly and fond of you, talking about a certain stone and the path of light. After a bit, you discover two things: some serious paranormal stuff is going on with the walls “eating” people and you have no clue who you are. Of course, if you played any other AITD you know exactly who our character is, but that can be considered a spoiler so it’s better not to head that way.
So, if that wasn’t enough to ruin your day, you are now faced with a burning building that’s collapsing around you and of course, you need to escape. And that’s just the first of the many amazing action scenes this game has to offer.
The game plays like a TV show, much like Alan Wake. The Story is divided in several episodes, each with different checkpoints. The interesting thing is that you can skip ahead sections of the game if you want to. Only the final part of the game requires you to do some specific actions before you can unlock it.
Overall, it should last you around 15 hours. It doesn’t have any difficulty settings, so only one run is required for the achievement hoes out there.Gameplay
This is where the sh*t hits the fan. I’ll be honest here. Not everyone will be able to stand the controls (AKA, the majority of the players). I’ll try to resume the different areas of the game.
First things first: movement and actions. You’ll notice how awkward it is to control your character once you start playing. Left joystick is for walking, Right joystick is for the camera, problem is, walking doesn’t feel that natural, it’s a bit hard to control his direction. That’s problem number 1.
Number 2 is the overflow of controls in dire situations. Oh yes, get ready. I’ll explain in a bit but I need to clear something out of the way first.
The enemies in AITD are like the Necromorphs in Dead Space (I can already hear the *gasps* because I just compared these 2 games). In DS, you could headshot the enemies and hit them in the torso (almost) all you wanted, they wouldn’t die. You had to dismember them. In AITD, you can shoot the humanoid enemies all you want, the most you’ll do is knock them out after lots of rounds. You need to burn them, more specifically, the cracks in their body. How do you do that?
Your weapons of choice are fire bullets (I’ll get there soon enough), cans of spray + lighter, and explosives or set something made of wood on fire and wack them with it. Yes, fire plays a big role in this game.
You remember those fire bullets I mentioned? That’s made by combining ammo and flammable liquid. That’s right, there’s a crafting system at work here.
You create your arsenal using duct tape, bottles filled with flammable liquid and tissues. Combine a bottle and duct tape, and you’ll get a “sticky bomb”. Combine a bottle and a tissue, and you’ll get a Molotov cocktail, and that’s only if you used a glass bottle. With a plastic bottle you got yourself a time bomb.
Confused yet? But wait, there’s more!
To heal yourself, you have to press left or right in your d-pad so you enter in a strange first person mode where you can see your wounds. IF you have any health sprays, you can spray your wounds and you’ll heal yourself. If you are too badly injured, you need to use a bandage to stop the bleeding or you die after a certain period of time.
Speaking of first person, you enter first person mode every time you want to shoot your gun. Why? Dunno, guess they thought it would make more sense. That, or they just wanted an excuse to add BLINKING TO THE FREAKING GAME. Click the right joystick and your character will blink. Spam the thing so you can clear out the “goo” certain enemies hit you with.
So as you can see, you need to carry a freakin’ lot of stuff, uh? Bottles, duct tape, ammo, tissues, bandages, sprays to use in combination to the lighter, health sprays, ah yes, and batteries for your lantern because in certain places it’s really, really dark. Guess you have a lot of inventory space, eh? Yeah, ye wished. The game goes old school here. All you can carry is what you can fit in your jacket. That means you have to be really, really picky about what you carry around.
And guess what, the inventory works in real-time just like (again) in Dead Space. Every time you enter “inventory mode”, you have to worry if some enemy isn’t about to bash your brains out, but unlike in Dead Space, YOU ARE LOOKING AT YOURSELF, not at an awesome hologram that allows you to see if some Necromorph is about to rip you a new one.
Let’s do a short recap:
- You ALWAYS need fire to kill the humanoid enemies.
- You need to carry stuff that makes fire.
- You need to use that flammable stuff fast if you want to kill your enemies.
- You have low inventory space.
- You need to combine stuff to make more effective weapons.
Now, try doing this with bad movement controls and you are trying to access your inventory in dire situations where something goes wrong and suddenly you are out of fire bullets or out of spray, while the enemies are happily about to strike you. It’s a mess. “Certainly there’s a way to select the item you want without using the inventory screen” you may ask, and yes. Press LB and RB and he’ll happily go thru every usable item in the left/right side of his jacket. Want that spray real bad because you are about to be hit by the enemies? Start pressing RB and hope your lighter is already in your left hand.
That’s my main problem with this game. They tried to insert so much stuff at the same time, the controls are a mess. Sure, they are workable, but they aren’t user friendly. And that’s a big problem. For me, the game managed to grab my attention and I resisted and learned and eventually got used to the controls but I am sure that many, many, MANY other gamers would just throw the remote against the wall. Sound / Graphics
The music is amazing, simple as that. They really did a good job with the music that plays in intense moments, with mysterious and strange lyrics while sh*t is exploding around you, or you are hanging for your life and trying to climb to safety while (once again) sh*t is exploding. Master piece when it comes to big action moments!
The dialogues can be pretty funny as well, again, reminding me of some kind of action movie.
The graphics are good, with great attention to details. Like I said, your character gets wounded but you also see those wounds and after healing, the cloth stays ripped. It’s those little details that show they cared.
As I said before, Fire is pretty important in this game, and it shows. It spreads, it dies down, it burns down debris that block your path *HINT, HINT*, and it’s pretty good to look at. They really did a number on this, and considering only Far Cry 2 comes close to this realism, they deserve a pat in the back.
My big complain is the lack of diverse enemies. You have 3 types of “critters”, one very original, 3 humanoids and bosses. That’s it. I’m one of those players that when it comes to games with monsters, I’m all up for the craziest stuff the developers can come up with. Achievements
Awesome list. There’s no difficulty achievements so it’s just one run, boom, that’s it, campaign related achievements are done.
Lots of achievements are related to actions you SHOULD be doing, like creating bombs, molotovs, fire bullets, etc.
And of course, there’s a list of goofy ones, like shooting a gold fish (the heck?) or kicking 10 “Ratz” for the achievement “Goal!”.
The main problem is the “collectibles”, aka, the roots. The good news is that you MUST “collect” at least 75 out of 100 to actually complete the game AND their locations are shown in the GPS so it’s not some huge gigantic “grind” like the flags in Assassin’s Creed.
The bad news is that they are still pretty boring to get. Overall:
As I said in the beginning, I enjoyed this game. Sure, it had clunky controls, but it shows they really cared about this game while making an awesome action experience mixed with survival horror.
And as a gamer since the Famicom (or NES for our American friends) generation, I have had so many bad controls experiences it was somewhat easy for me to adapt, but for the newer gamers, the ones in this game are probably going to hurt like hell.
6/10 -> A good game ruined by poorly designed controls.
EDITS: Several typos and I'm sure there's plenty more. English is not my main language, so bear with me.