Ah Boxing day, here in the UK the day most families have finally had enough of one another and it comes to blows. Ok that might not be true but in the warped spirit of the day, and because honestly I tend to use this blog on Destructoid for opinion pieces and the odd review I thought this would be appropriate for today.
On my other blog I reviewed Project Gert: Recon recently after a request to do so. Normally Iíve posted requests after a slight delay to here on Destructoid too. I am not with this one because of the minor slow motion train wreck going on around it. While initially I didnít have this issue I wasnít following the developer on twitter so managed to miss being called a crack head along with some other reviewers. Now I kind of resent being called a crack head (hhhhmmmm so morish) so I thought better of it. Well recently after a fair bit of controversy over at another indie game reviewer's site its started to get a little out of hand. So much so thereís been a press release about the game so this is pretty much my response to the press release.
Ok maybe thatís not a fair response and I should give a reasoned one.
First While the story may been deep and engaging the fact on the initial playthrough there was very little of it really doesnít do the game justice, the hidden audio logs are a good idea but placing them only when you replay the game seems a little backwards especially when the story is meant to be the highlight of the game. I didnít mention them in my review because to be honest I thought it was a feature that had perhaps been cut along the way hence I never looked for them and couldnít talk about them as honestly I never knew they were in the game. You can say how bad that makes me as a reviewer but how many reviewers out there talk about how great all the Easter eggs are in games ? Very few because they arenít on the standard path and often arenít even anywhere near it so most wonít run into these. Again a game where the story is meant to be key shouldnít hide its story away in a different mode.
Next the unique features of the Moonbreaker engine. First itís not your engine, its 4 different physics engines at work, which explains why some of the problems arise as none of them can agree with one another.
Now I should address the comments on the trail / worth of the game. While the trail may well let you get pretty far into the game Iím not giving it a pass because the trail wasnít designed to stop customers. This is how trails should be, if it were bad Iíd condemn for a bad trail but call it entitled or not I donít give credit for providing 9 minutes worth on game (XBLIG games demos have a 9 minute built in timer from Microsoft so itís as far as you can go in 9 minutes). While the game is only $1 the issue is its in a market competing with games that are all $1. This isnít a market where developers can put a title out and expect it to sell, even at $1. At present its a consumer market and while $1 is a small amount thereís plenty of choice and variety on offer for that $1 so the question shouldnít be ďWhy not spend the $1 on this gameĒ It should still be ďWhy should I spend the $1 on this game and not a different oneĒ
The worrying comment about the lack of updates to the puzzles should be brought up as me and other critics actually noted them and specifically the physics surrounding them as a problem.
As far as the game being based on a novel this is where I bring up a rather serious issue. The novel so far costs £8.40 here in the UK (Or $15 in the US). Iím an indie game reviewer, firstly novels arenít in my area of review, secondly I am not going to buy a companion novel to be able to appreciate a game that cost me probably £0.70. Hell the books I do own (Other than Harry Potter) mostly cost less than that when I bought them, and even Harry Potter I bought the first book for £5 and only subsequent ones for more, £7.99 for the second book I believe.
I will say I am pleased to see (even if itís slightly) a suggestion about improving the quality of audio recordings for the dialogue. However the possible lack of online leader boards is disappointing.
The final part could I really donít want to delve into suffice to say, itís a critics job to give feedback on something produced. Iíve always tried to be objective and not pander to people, I like what I like and I donít like what I donít like. Iím not going to simply give an indie game a high score for being an indie game as I really donít and shouldnít be asked to care about the story of the person behind it or the development unless itís something rather vital such as being the only game on the market to have the entire 3D graphics an animation system built in excel (Seriously how is that even possible ?). I look at the end result and yes I have had plenty of incidents of developers not too happy about reviews and I accept that its part of reviewing. Heck this year Iíve actually seen a series Iíve slated go from dire to, well actually merely mediocre , it shows that even the worst game can improve to a point I can play it without needing to risk alcohol poisoning to stand it long enough.
If Iíd gone out and slated some freeware game, Iíd get the rage but indie or not itís a product being sold its not free, itís not even ad supported itís actually a paid product and I will treat it as that.