Posted: April 29, 2014
Master Reboot is a Sci-Fi First Person Exploration game, set in a virtual world dedicated to store dead people's memories and personalities, so that they're able to relieve their life, and also contact their family and friends, even after their unfortunate death.
As you play, you'll uncover more about your past self and a bit about the world by visiting different memories.
Sounds promising, right? Well, it certainly did!
So, let's start with presentation.
For me, the graphics
were a mixed bag, to be honest.
In the first level, you're greeted with amazing colors and lightning effects and just really polished graphics overall. While there are sparks of that throughout the rest of the game, it unfortunately falls a bit short of what it showed at the start.
Texture work is almost inexistent at times, with a lot of the game beings mostly shaders and lights/shadows, and not a lot of details on textures, it's mostly just blurred colors.
This makes the game look cheaper than it needed at times, specially since we had already seen a better work overall.
On the other hand, the lighting effects are still awesome, and it's clearly a focus of the game's artstyle, specially inside the Hub World, with a very Neon feel to it.
Besides, a really huge problem I had was with the brightness balance. This game is way too dark. Seriously, I wasn't able to see, at times (at the Hospital level, experimenting with the achievements). It was literally pitch black. I could change the brightness, BUT, you can't change the settings as you play, and the brightness meter isn't well calibrated, meaning that you can't really know when to stop.
That's a bummer. I'll talk more about technical issues further.
As I said, a mixed bag. Sometimes it looks awesome, other times it just feels rushed and cheap.
, though, I mostly enjoyed it. It has an eerie feel to it, but it's also beautiful, not just there to make you feel uncomfortable. Besides, it helps create an atmosphere in the several places you visit (i.e.: a circus).
SoundEffects, on the other hand, felt a bit unbalanced (some of them genuinely bad), sometimes being too loud to the point of distorting the sounds. But, overall, they helped the atmosphere of the game.
I think it has done its purpose, but overall, it could have been better.
So, how's gameplay, one might ask?
Well, this is where the game falls a bit too short. The game is mostly comprised of several areas (essentially 3 tiers that you unlock as you complete them), each with a certain memory. While there are bits of the game outside of memories, that's where most of the gameplay and exploration is set, so I'll focus on that.
There's a hub area, in the virtual world, from which you can choose any of the areas of the available tier. These include place such as an Hospital, a Fairground, a Library, a Flight, and so on. You visit several places from your past life, trying to uncover exactly who you were, and who you were with.
So far so good, I actually liked the structure of the game.
In each area, it's more like a puzzle game. You'll have to explore the areas, and try to find out exactly what needs to be done.
While you do that, there are little blue ducks, that give you pictures of a certain memory, a little piece of the puzzle of your past, if you will. These are usually fairly well hidden, and they're basically their reward for exploration.
These areas, however, have two main problems. The first one, is that they're fairly small, rendering exploration a bit of a relative term, as there's not much to explore. Instead of exploring a big area, you're just looking under benches and the sort. Not very interesting.
The second problem, is that most of the puzzles are fairly counter-intuitive, and have barely anything to do with your own purpose or memory. They're just... there. Acting as a hinderance more than a vehicle for the story. And that's unfortunate.
They vary from too easy to random, for the most part.
On their side though, is that they were certainly varied and SOME of them were pretty well thought and design. Unfortunately, the exception doesn't really make the rule.
Most of the puzzles feel out of place and with solutions that aren't in any way tied to the memory.
However, the areas weren't all just puzzles. They were actually very varied. The Hospital was more of a Horror-themed area, while the Flight was a stealthy mission. It certainly had more to it than I expected, but, the developers didn't seem either experienced or resourceful enough to do it all. The Stealth level was just frustrating at the beginning, but laughable once you figure out what to do. And the Horror level, somehow, managed to be less scary than other levels that were far more oppressive in a subtle way.
In general, Master Reboot tried to hard to make a game out of the concept, and feeling a bit to shallow in that regard.
I can understand why they've done it, but I think they only got sidestracked from the initial concept and ended up not doing either very well.
One important aspect (for me, at least) is how they've done the achievements. Most of them are only there as an additional bit of challenge to the levels, but, once again, it doesn't add anything to the game. On the contrary, the way you're "encouraged" to play is actually less fun.
On the Hospital level, for example, the achievements was to play without the Flashlight. "Well, bring it on, then!"... Boy, did I regret it. It didn't make it scarier. It simply made it frustrating. In many corridors there was literally no light. It was pitch black. I didn't know where to go, and there weren't really any distant visual or audio cues. It was just a case of pressing WASD and hoping I wasn't going against the wall. It was... not a good experience, from a gameplay standpoint.
The other achievements seem to follow the same rule, being more of a problem than a cool incentive to play the game in interesting ways.
is out of the way. Now comes the really disappointing part for me.
You know, as this was an Exploration game in such a promising world, I didn't care about gameplay too much. I was just expecting great encounters and insight into this future society. Maybe even questioning Death. But... it barely happened, unfortunately.
This game seemed the perfect way of throwing some ideas at the player through the world itself, but it did none of that. It simply turned into a dramatic story about 2 random people who created the Soul Cloud... just because. No philosophy behind it was explained or even refered throughout the game. It was created in the same way as Facebook, which is disappointing, to say the least.
The world was there, and you were in it, but you didn't really feel a part of it in any way.
In the end of each area you get a cutscene about your previous life, but it's just a story about love and friendship with a murder thrown' in the middle to make it seem dark. It's just... shallow, forgeting the initial premise.
Maybe I was expecting too much. Or just something different. And this game wasn't aiming for it.
Well, maybe. But even in that case, looking back at the game, there's no reason for it to standout, aside from the pretty lighting. Gameplay is just there just to call it a game, as it wasn't the focus at all. The story was far more generic than it could have been with the endless possibilities of the Soul Cloud. The world was far too empty as well, with more focus on real world memories than the virtual world of the undead.
All in all, this game is just a missed opportunity. It was set in a great world, full of very interesting concepts. But, it does nothing with it, trying to be too much at once, ending up missing most of its points.
It has impressive lightning effects and great audio design, but as a game... there's nothing I can't think of to justify a recommendation.