Ampu-tea Review – MOUSE n JOYPAD

Ampu-tea Review



Strangely enough, ever since Surgeon Simulator was introduced to the market, there hadn’t been an ungodly amount of clones released wishing to cash in on its ideas. What it did do, however, was to inspire a young indie developer to create a similar game. And yes, the term is taken lightly. Ampu-tea’s aspirations aren’t hidden at all. Quite the contrary, actually, since this game features a mug that thanks Surgeon Sim for igniting the creative processes behind it.

Confident that I’m about to have the tea of a lifetime, I start the game up to see how it plays. After a quick load, I’m greeted by a rigid, bluish-in-hue robotic tea-making arm. Upon closer inspection of about a second or so, it becomes clear that the arm is floating in mid air above an entire set of professional tea-crafting tools. So far, so good. I wiggle the robotic fingers around a bit, just to get a feel of what I’m dealing with here. While they do feel precise, trying to grab something using them alone is a nightmare. The fingers are quite slow and cumbersome, and might give you troubles while playing. There also seems to be a magnet of sorts fitted to the palm of the robotic hand, but I’ll be damned if it was ever hinted that it’s working. So, as expected, picking things up isn’t the machine’s strong suite. And unsurprisingly, neither is manipulating objects. As you fiddle around trying not to break the damned mugs as soon as you touch them, you will quickly realise that Ampu-tea doesn’t care much about your nerves. If you’ve played Surgeon Sim before (and there’s a good chance you have), you’re in for about a half an hour of trying to get used to the way this game wants you to manipulate the given bionic arm, due to the wholly different control scheme. And let me just say that it isn’t too intuitive.

The keyboard buttons (QWERT) control the fingers, right mouse click manipulates the wrist, and the left click serves as a somewhat more intricate manipulation tool. Since making tea requires much more exactitude than surgery does, instead of two fixed height settings between which we could easily alternate, holding the right click precisely dictates how high above the table might the arm be floating. As simple as it might sound on paper, trust me that it isn’t. If there’s one thing that takes away from the gameplay, then it’s the controls.

After a short adaptation period, you might have some of the skills necessary to actually make some tea. „Might“, being the operative word here. Since the game doesn’t provide you with any kind of tutorial at all, you will be left to your own accord for the entirety of your time with it. This isn’t a bad thing, despite the fact that it seems otherwise at first. There is but a randomized “quest list“ to guide you through this mess, and you will have to come up with interesting solutions to the tasks at hand and compensate for the arm’s clunkiness.

Visually, the game is okay-ish. While the textures are mostly crisp and relatively realistic, the game also forces depth of field a bit too much. The main issue, however, is that Ampu-tea suffers from frame rate drops that, although happen rarely and last only for a couple of moments, make the game automatically lower your graphics settings. This is irritating to say the least, and I haven’t had the luck of finding a duct-tape fix just yet. The music, while certainly sounding British, will also be a major annoyance after a couple of retries. Although, after you fail miserably at making tea, everything will be a major annoyance.

To sum it all up, Ampu-Tea is not an especially good game, but it isn’t too bad, either. Since it’s sitting right there in the middle, some people will surely find it amusing enough to spend a couple of hours with it. Not in one sitting, however, since it would certainly drive you mad. It’s a cheap investition, and every Surgeon Sim lover will probably want to make it. As for the rest of the gaming audience, the decision will be based purely on personal preferences. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have some tea.