Maybe presentation doesn’t matter in video games as much as it used to.
About a year ago, I used to judge media on the cover, which lead to some.. Questionable purchases. I’d say there was a 30% chance of success with every game, and for someone who owns about 2000 games? That’s not good. But you know, sometimes the cover is awful and the game is good! Like Ico, or umm.. Mega Man 1? Well, lets add a third to the list with Cyber Complex.
This is another odd title from the Summer Spotlight, coming to us from Polarity Flow, a team of programmers responsible for Steel Rain X, a shoot ’em up which couldn’t be much more of a polar opposite to Cyber Complex. For one, stuff actually happened in Steel Rain, but we’ll get to that, what DOES happen here?
Well, it’s another hacking story but, I already used up all my hacking jokes in the GRIDD: Retroenhanced review and I can’t recharge until Watch_DOGS 3 gets announced, so I’m just going to say that the gameplay consists of arcade and strategy titles, “creatively” dubbed “PAC-TICS”, a title that made me cringe so hard, my own face imploded from sheer disgust.
You are John Hacker, hacking marine, tasked by a man/woman/space amoeba called 5ID to hack the planet or something. Together with your comrade, you go through firewalls and data packets in order to grab the glory and maybe reveal some conspiracies while you’re at it.
Gameplay is unique, to say the least. The whole “PAC-TICS” shebang is at least true to some extent, as I’ve never played anything like this. The firewall you’re up against sends its scanners out to intercept you, so in order to counteract their interception, you capture grids in order to summon nodes that will intercept the interceptors so you can capture further grids until you’re able to finally wipe out the scanners.
There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about battles. You have to kind of plan your movements in some way, as the scanners are unpredictable and could track you like Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Clyde from Pac-Man (get it?), it gets kind of tense in later fights. The only heartbreaking issue is that it’s clear this title had the budget of half of a ham sandwich and a can of Coke.
The game looks terrible. And by terrible, I mean that for the most part, the game takes place on a static grid that looks more like an optical illusion rather than a game. It’s not that bad, but my god, staring at this screen for more than a hour is headache inducing. While I don’t really mind that the game can be remade on graph paper, it’s still a warning that needs to be heeded for anyone who wants a pretty face as well as a stimulating ride.
The “music” also deserves some sort of mention. It’s mostly ambient stuff, the kind of brooding and weighted noise that would add atmosphere to an actual game, but here, there’s this sort of horror movie vibe I get off of it. It’s like a cyberpunk version of the Friday The 13th score.
It doesn’t have much variety in mechanics so it’s clear that this is a proof of concept instead of a fully fledged title, but I don’t mind promoting an idea if it’s fun, and Cyber Complex is somewhat fun. It overstays its welcome a bit due to its repetition but that’s pretty much it in terms of what this game is.
And that’s that. I have no idea about what else there is to say. It offers one premise and sticks with it, and I don’t know whether or not that premise is enough to recommend it. It’s a game like no other, but it doesn’t look like a game, which goes back to my presentation point. Should you spend $10 on a title which gives you a robust challenge but not enough of one?
I suppose if you’re looking for something new to give the old brain neurons an exercise, then get Cyber Complex or wait until it goes on sale, whichever way it is, it’s still something I feel like everyone should try at least once because, again, there is nothing else like this as far as I know.
A truly unique puzzle marred by it's boring looks and lack of stakes.