Afterfall Reconquest Episode One Review
Three years ago, in 2011, a survival horror game with psychological themes was released. It was the Afterfall Insanity â a game which the critics werenât particularly fond of, even though some gamers liked it very much. I was among them, too. It was a tale of a person going mad and causing horrendous amounts of damage to the people he cared about along the way. There were some great metaphors hidden in there and I enjoyed my time with it, even though the project itself felt a tad amateurish at times. Fast forward to 2014, and a new series of smaller Afterfall games is getting its first episode out and about. Taking the time to play it, I can only say that Afterfall Reconquest is a very dividing experience, much more so than the first Afterfall was.
Sirâ¦ Sir, that is not how you hold a rifle.
Firstly, let me say that I was positively astonished by the quality of the gameâs cut scenes. Instead of using CGI or doing them in-engine, the developers opted for a comic book-like black and white approach, both in the cut scenes and in the actual gameplay (of which Iâll speak about later), but it really does leave a great impression at first. With detailed drawings and artsy shading, I felt really optimistic about the whole thing. But then the voice-over kicked in, and I was sorely disappointed. In an effort to sound dark and brooding, the person who voices the protagonist Ranger comes off entirely wrong, and youâll want him to stop talking really fast. Thankfully, he doesnât speak all that much so youâll manage. Once the game loaded, I was greeted by an all black-and-white world with red details strewn about wherever a point of interest might be. At first, this looks nice. As in â really nice and different from all the painfully realistic games weâre bombarded with these days. After about half an hour, however, I changed my opinion simply because my eyes started bleeding. Seriously, looking at this filter made me queasy after a while and I simply cannot fathom why have the devs not made it an option instead of forcing it on all players. This is why the âunique visual styleâ is filed as both a pro and a con to Afterfall Reconquest. Thankfully, altering the gameâs .ini file in a couple of lines disabled the filter and let me play the game normally â a mode in which Afterfall doesnât lose that much of its atmosphere due to the pretty nice textures and overall decent visuals it has hidden below the black-and-white filter. The music Iâm really fond of, as it improves the gameâs already dreadful and dreary atmosphere by a large margin. Itâs fairly similar to the soundtrack used in, say, some regions in the original Borderlands or some westerns even.
Gameplay-wise, Reconquest doesnât quite hit the nail over the head, but is an enjoyable experience nonetheless. The Reaper youâre in control of has access to three separate âpowersâ at any given time. The life drain that will literally drain life energy from the mutants youâve slaughtered and convert it to your own, the hand-mounted shotgun of sorts will do what shotguns usually do, and the coolest one â the holographic shield of sorts will be protecting you from the mutantsâ claws and fangs. Itâs a focused system that works well in conjunction to the Reaperâs 10mm handgun, which is also the only available firearm in the game. Now, the combat is a tad strange due to the fact that you wonât be aiming from the usual over-the-shoulder perspective but rather from a strange centered one instead, but it is fun and dynamic. Youâll be fighting the enemies weâve had the chance of seeing in the previous Afterfall games, with mutants being the most obvious ones. The only real hindrance are the geriatric animations, but Iâm hoping these will be improved upon in the later episodes of the game. The gameplay itself consists of the Reaper running around the wasteland, completing assignments and just generally roaming about in a semi-sandbox fashion, although there really isnât much to do aside from doing what youâre told and thus progressing the storyline in one way or another.
This is an episodical game that will be released in three separate releases, each seemingly priced at around 6 USD/Euro. While I cannot comment on how this will work, storyline-wise, I can say that the first episode does have an intriguing cast and setting that may very well spark your interest if youâre not of the perfectionistâ kind. Similarly as to how Insanity did, Reconquest explores themes we donât meet that often in games and therefore I appreciate it much more than I would have if it had a derivative, ordinary story. Most of it is communicated to the player via dialogues between the protagonist and his mysterious cohort, with the cut scenes Iâve mentioned before working as a visual filler. Itâs a decent enough experience that wonât leave you disappointed, although Iâm sure weâll be seeing much more interesting concepts as the stories go forward in the following episodes.
My main gripe with Afterfall Reconquest is that it simply doesnât feel finished at the moment of writing this review. Itâs lacking in the optimization department, Iâve seen a fair few graphical bugs pop up during my time with it and Iâm not even going to comment on all the grammar mistakes Iâve had the honour of reading. A simple toggle between the black-and-white filter and the ordinary #nofilter mode would do wonders too. But Iâd prefer if the devs focused on the protagonist animations and camera above all else, because then the game really could stand on its own two legs regarding the gameplay.
Now, as it currently stands, it takes a fair amount of eye-closing to really love Afterfall Reconquest, but I see lots of potential for the series should the developers remain vigilant and keep on improving their game. If youâre looking for a new, somewhat unique and cheap experience that has a weight of its own, I suggest looking into Reconquest.