Maximum Games released another bad game? Oh, you mean it’s Tuesday.
I don’t get this. I don’t understand this plan of action that the Californian publisher have, which has so far worked out exceptionally poorly for them. Arriving at the bottom of the Metacritic Games Publisher Ranking in 2017, with games like the awful Road Rage, Troll & I, and the absolutely pathetic Dead Alliance, the so-called luck keeps coming. This year has bought them “hits” like Agony, Beast Quest, Tennis World Tour, and the death knell that might be Tyler: Model 005.
This is the big release from British developer Reversed Interactive, a 3D platformer with a slight open-world aspect. They made one title before this, the Oculus Rift title Disassembled, but since VR isn’t important to me, I can’t give you a definitive opinion. It’s got a four-star rating on the official Oculus website, whereas Tyler: Model 005’s reviews are all positive… mostly from people who got the game for free.
I guess that sets the stage, doesn’t it?
You play as Tyler, a tiny solar-powered robot made by a bloke who must’ve gotten bored quickly, because Tyler and his league of similar friends are all abandoned shortly after they’re created. After a dream that thankfully has a tutorial in it, you awake thirteen years later to find the house in disrepair and no one around to answer questions. Now it’s down to you and a few other similar robots to track down what happened.
Immediately, you’re treated to an intro with Tyler being made, set to a jaunty 50s soundtrack which hammers home the point: The game is supposed set in a retro sci-fi world, sort of like Fallout, which is a neat setting, and it’d be even neater if they showed it off, or if they hadn’t created the game with what seems like 1950s hardware.
The performance of this game see-saws between just-under-playable and unplayable. The average frame rate will be around 20FPS, with bigger areas of exploration dipping down into single-digit territory if things get feisty. Hampered on are some impressive glitches, most of which relating to the absolute shithouse controls, and one which duplicated you and any NPCs in cutscenes, which caused my console to crash completely. Nice one lads.
The glitches don’t stop there, however! How about the fun glitch that removes all of your health when you enter a new room, meaning you’ll be killed immediately when fighting an enemy? There’s also the glitch where you settings don’t save, or will not hesitate to change, so if you accidentally turn on inverted controls? Tough tits, get used to it.
When you’re not in cutscenes, it’s at this point you notice just how crippled the controls are. Tyler doesn’t so much move as he does have a seizure all over the rooms you navigate, and this caused the parkour mechanics to be unbelievably frustrating. I put no hesitation in saying that this is easily the worst-controlling game of the year, something Maximum Games also held the title for last year with Road Rage.
Tyler is quite a nimble robot, as he can climb, wall-run, and vault over most of the obstacles scattered around the room, which the game isn’t keen to show off, or even make work properly. These controls are every negative description in the book, they’re unresponsive, they’re finnicky, they’re loose, they don’t even react to the environment half of the time. It’s so pitifully embarrassing to watch unfold.
Whether or not Tyler will wall-run or attach himself to the object you want him to is pretty much a coin toss. Sometimes he’ll latch onto something else that was a meter away, and sometimes he’ll just not register you attempting to climb it whatsoever. It’s a roulette wheel of annoyances, words can’t describe just how awful these controls are.
Oh hang on, there is one perfect word: “shit”, and the poor executions keep on coming. There are invisible walls everywhere, even in places where you need to go. A lot of the time, there’ll be objectives and such near the ceiling, and the game is never clear on which rafters you can climb on, and which rafter you can’t, meaning Tyler will pathetically headbutt the air sometimes.
Tied into this gameplay is a gimmick based around the fact that Tyler is solar-powered, and so every once in a while, you’ll need to lounge near a light-source in order to recharge. This is supposed to turn into in a crafty game of management, in which you see how much you can do before you need to gawk at light beaming through the boarded-up windows, or the tens of lamps scattered around the houses. In truth… no.
For one, there are hundreds of light sources everywhere, even in the bloody Sewers, and even when there isn’t, you’ll probably get your battery recharged randomly from something glow-in-the-dark. No, I’m not kidding. Trying to get as much done in such a short amount of time as possible was never an issue, unless you’re trying to climb the fucking stairs. Let’s talk about that real quick actually.
Since Tyler is about half a foot tall, it would make sense that he needs to jump up the stairs as opposed to just walking up them. What doesn’t make sense is the fact that climbing up the stairs is nearly impossible. Sometimes Tyler won’t jump up the next step, sometimes he’ll jump backwards instead of forward. What should be a simple task is crippled by such an awful control sch— You get the point.
There’s no variation in environments, not even when you go to the more risque areas of the game, like the Sewers and Garden. Everything looks like Britain in the 50s, and almost nothing has been done to capitalize on the “retro sci-fi” look they’re supposedly proud of having. There is one area where neon lights absolutely blind you, and you face a Roomba with a sawblade attached to it, but you’re only in this area for twenty minutes of your four-hour playthrough so… I dunno, mission accomplished?
The levelling system was confusingly added on, and its upgrades don’t offer anything exceptionally interesting. You can increase the climb speed by up to forty percent, yet it didn’t make a difference. You can reduce the amount of battery is drained when you’re not in a light source, which is never… you can highlight collectibles, which didn’t work… and you can increase the damage you do against enemies, yet it didn’t make a difference. Enemies still went down in the same amount of hits every time.
The combat is another shoe-horned in mechanic when did nothing in terms of elongating or providing a better experience. Every enemy you fight will be an insect of some sort, and they all seem to do the same base damage. There’s also no definition to the combat, meaning that you will mostly flail your sword around in the vain attempt to get the endless insects to die. Finally, there’s a survival mode where you do the combat forever. No thank you.
Sound design-wise, it’s almost completely benign. The voice actors all sound like they’re whispering, and I don’t think it’s to do with the fact that Tyler is a mouse-sized pipsqueak. Most of the songs that play during gameplay are obnoxiously loud and bombastic, including the battle music that doesn’t seem to go away until every single bloody insect in the house has died. That song will be playing in my fight against Hell, that’s for sure.
Finally, the game has quite a hearty narrative attached to it, mostly to do with seeing the payoff as to why Tyler and his friends were abandoned in the first place. The answer? There isn’t one. Not one that’s prominent or actually explained, that is. There’s a time travel aspect, both in-game and narrative-wise, That isn’t used to its full potential, with the in-game time travel being so incredibly useless, there’s no real reason to talk about it. It reverses a short amount of time if you mess up, that’s it.
Tyler’s voice actor is alright, even if he mumbles half of his lines, but the other prominent character, Conrad, sounds like Limmy trying to put on an impression of Limmy, if you catch my drift. Other than that, there’s no one else to talk about, the other two characters exist for all of five minutes and that’s that, providing no insight, information or knowledge.
Nothing happens in the entire game, there’s no conflicts that get solved, you never find out why the hell you were abandoned, you don’t find out your purpose to exist, and any explanations given don’t make sense. There was one miserable scene that tried to explain Tyler’s origins, but it’s executed so poorly that I couldn’t help but chuckle, but that chuckling stopped when I realized it was crowbarred in to seem slightly emotional.
It’s stunning how bad this game is. It still feels like the Early Access title it once was, with not a single ounce of polish applied to any factor of the game. Awful controls, ugly graphics, a disgusting bloom on everything, mechanics that don’t even work, voice acting that sounds like it was recorded at a fucking sleepover. There is not a single factor of the game that seeks to defy or entertain the viewer.
In the end, Tyler: Model 005 doesn’t even come out of the gate kneecapped, because that implied the project had legs when it was released. A hastily put-together exercise in cynicism that slowly tried my patience the more it went on, this is something that needs such an insane amount of polish put on it, in order for it to be even remotely good. Final word? Don’t get Maximum Games to publish your game if you want it to succeed. Goodnight.
This review of Tyler: Model 005 is based on the Xbox One version of the game.
The worst platformer of the year. Something so devoid of fun and masterful craftwork, that it might as well be a funeral.
Owner of the largest collection of indie games in the Western Hemisphere, and TimeSplitters’ biggest fanboy.