“Trance” is well implemented.
Good voice acting.
Easy to get stuck.
Little to no replay value.
“Technobabylon”. I like it. It instantly makes me think of a sci-fi, robot-fuelled battleground full of advanced technology and weapons. That would have been a better name for Titanfall. Or Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. However, Technobabylon will have you doing very little fighting, and instead searching around the room for small items of interest you may have missed, since it looks like part of everything else.
Personally, I thought the storyline was decent. However, I’m someone who enjoys linear storytelling, as in the story is presented with a beginning, middle and end. Once we start hopping around to “20 hours earlier” and so on, I start to lose interest. This was a rare occasion that kept me interested despite the Christopher Nolan timeline. Regardless, you start your adventure as a woman called Latha, who is stuck in her apartment after her door malfunctions. We are then introduced to the laws of this universe. Most electrical items have an AI built into their wiring. Most people won’t interact with them in the physical world. However, there’s a type of internet called “Trance”, which is pretty much a literal interpretation of cyberspace. Each user gets an avatar, and you can interact with things onscreen using this avatar. Back in the real world, you get access to a wad of blue gunk called Wetware, which allows you to make a connection with these appliances. Creating connections with appliances allows you to interact directly with the appliance itself. Every item has its own simulated personality, morals and sense of humour. It’s quite interesting. Now that this has been established, you will be spending your time using the cyber and real worlds to solve puzzles.
As you continue, you’ll be able to play as different characters, each with their own items and methods of dealing with problems. Personally, I don’t find any of these other means as interesting as hacking into cyberspace and talking to an electrical manifestation of, say, a toaster. Toasters can be surprisingly eloquent for… well, a toaster.
Technobabylon is one of those games where you can boldly admit you needed to check a couple of things with a walk-through without feeling any shame. A lot of adventure games fall into this category. I know a lot of people will argue that adventure games are all about finding solutions, but here’s my counter argument: everyone has a path of logic. One thought will lead to another with reason or purpose. Adventure game developers are an exception. They have the most skewed logic of anyone on the planet. I’m talking Mouse Trap or A.C.M.E. levels of absurdity. These people don’t think normally. And so because of this, it’s not exactly blatantly obvious what has to be done. I understand making a puzzle difficult to solve, but when the solution is so obtuse and there is very little chance of you finding it on purpose, that’s when I get annoyed. So once you realise that logic is missing in these “logic” puzzles, you resort to the age old practice of using everything with everything, regardless of the likelihood of success.
The graphics are alright. Anyone who follows my work knows that I love pixelated graphics. However, I find myself less fond of Tecnhobabylon’s style. The resolution cannot be changed. It may be stuck at the native ratio of your screen (mine is 1600×900) but I’m not too sure. Because the resolution is so low, the pixels look rectangular and horribly large, giving the entire game an unpolished and murky look. Also, you may find Alt+Tabbing a little cumbersome, as the resolution on your desktop may get a little skewed. The audio is decent enough, though there really aren’t any stand-out music tracks to back up the story developments. The voice acting is to a high standard, with the AI’s within the appliances being more interesting than the main characters.
However, the more I played Technobabylon the more evidence I saw pointing to the fact that this game was in the wrong genre. If I told someone about a game that followed three different people from different backgrounds as they ran through a cyberpunk city trying to fight and uncover a conspiracy that affects everyone, they’d probably think it was a shooter. Maybe an open world title, like a futurist Grand Theft Auto. Maybe even a platformer. But not a point and click adventure game. Nothing screams “HIGH OCTANE CONSPIRACY ACTION!” like fruitlessly mashing objects against each other to advance.
It just so happened that I was reading an article recently about the questionable future of the point and click adventure game in this gaming generation. It really intrigued me. Adventure games like “Monkey Island”, “Grim Fandango” and the like, were made due to their simplistic nature that didn’t require too much coding, money, or resources to produce. There were no multiple gameplay elements to tinker around with, so less things needed to be changed. For example, Doom and Quake had one main gameplay element (shoot to proceed), but they had different types of guns. These different guns were given various characteristics which had to be loaded into the game. Apart from walking around, everything was pretty much predetermined in a point and click adventure game- the player just needed to trigger the events.
Here’s an example: a baddie could be shot several times with a pistol or once with a shotgun. Both lead to progress. But you can use a plastic tray with a door panel as many times as you like, the door won’t budge. But once you’ve followed a specific path, the door will open. This will always be the perpetual argument of story vs. gameplay, but why can’t we have both? Time and time again games like Half Life 2 and all manner of RPG’s have shown us that this is more than possible, but the best example I can think of is L.A. Noire. Now there’s a game that has action and puzzle solving and yet lets the player make their own conscious decisions! We don’t lose any of the storytelling, but we still get a bit of excitement and autonomy. I know they’re two completely different games, plus one has vastly less funding, but the comparison is there.
I think I know who to recommend Technobabylon to. Older generation gamers, or those who grew up with point and click adventure games. Don’t get me wrong, if you like point and click adventure titles then I’m sure there’s a whole lot to enjoy here. But if you’ve been raised in the modern era of gaming, or you were just brought up on different genres like I was, then it’s far easier to see the cracks in the game design.
Wadjet Eye Games
May 21st 2015