24 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 2.0 hrs on record
Posted: Dec 18, 2018 @ 7:59am
Updated: Dec 18, 2018 @ 8:09am
Product received for free

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Protocol is a first-person adventure, discovery, and puzzle game that is set up as an exercise in finding the different ways to "violate the protocol." Please keep in mind that this is a game that many people will find very frustrating. The game warns the player before all play is initiated that this shall be the case. In fact, I found it to be rather frustrating in many aspects as well. The most significant point of frustration is the many non-skippable cut scenes and instructions/dialogue parts during which the player cannot move and needs to sit through every time.

At many checkpoints, you will be blindly walking into random tasks with little to no instruction other than a simple way to proceed. But if you fail in your task, you will be taken back to the beginning of the checkpoint, and the cut scene may take some time before you are able to move again. I hope this is something that can be rectified through future updates to allow the player the option of not having to view a particular cut scene repeatedly. This is particularly important because the game is designed around needing to rinse and repeat many scenes in order to find the different ways to violate the protocol.

The game is available in both VR mode and flattened on desktop. I played on desktop only, because I do not have a VR set up. It works pretty well in desktop mode. The mouse serves as the movement of your head as you look around, and you move with the standard keyboard controls. There is a lot of head-bobbing that is I cannot find any way of changing. That being said, I am not sure if I would want to play this in VR mode either. A lot of the on-screen text can be rather blurry when there is head bobbing and character movement. Most of the time, the text is inconsequential and you are trying to view it while staying still, so it is not big deal. Though perhaps this is more noticeable in VR mode. It was particularly noticeable for me in the beginning of the game, but once I got used to the head bobbing, it no longer bothered me on desktop.

There is a story to this game, and a fairly extensive narration. The story does not necessarily make sense, especially from the beginning. But it falls in place bit by bit, and the writing is rather funny. The humor is not for everybody. I understand this. I still found it to be rather funny in a realistic kind of sense, in this very unrealistic story. All of the dialogue is spoken, and I find the voice acting to have been done very well.

Controls
Keyboard and Mouse work well together. Since the game is primarily designed for VR, I think it would work even better with the appropriate system. I did read in a previous review that somebody had issues with both the left click and right click of the mouse dropping the item that you are holding. This is actually not true. The left click drops the item, while the right-click throws the item. You will find this useful in certain situations to know the difference.

Graphics
The graphics are pretty nice, some of the graphical ideas are interesting. Some elements are repeated again and again, while others show the creativity of the developers and designers of this game. I do wish the failure states, as in "you have violated the protocol, have a nice day" triggers led to some variation of what is displayed instead of the same small cut-scene repeatedly. I read somewhere that one reviewer mentioned that you cannot skip this cut scene, which is not exactly true, if you click and hold the mouse, the scene goes by a bit quicker, even faster if you rapidly click.

Audience
Mature audience in terms of graphical content, voice acting, as well as written dialogue.

Pricing
Base price at $24.99 USD is a little high, in my opinion, but the humor and the voice-acting are both quite significant strengths of the game that should not be overlooked to give some additional intrinsic value to the game.

Positives
+Nice writing, even though the writing doesn't make a ton of sense. I found it to be rather funny.
+Main character has a background, a story, and his own problems. He is a three-dimensional character.
+Different take on the idea of story/game progression. Most other games want you to find the correct way out, whereas this game tells you the correct paths to take, but you feel obligated to find all of the premature failure states. The game even keeps track of them for you.
+Voice-acting is quite well done, the narrated voices are appropriately timbred

Negatives
-Non-skippable cut scenes from each checkpoint is seriously problematic and what I perceive to be the biggest problem with this game at the moment, due to the amount of time wasted watching the same cut-scene over and over again while the in-game character cannot even move sometimes.
-Head bobbing a bit too much, would be nice to be given the option to turn this on and off.

Conclusion
Protocol is a first-person adventure akin to a walking simulator if you follow all the instructions of the protocol. If viewed separately, it has some particular points that are difficult to progress without needing to learn and repeat. However, I believe the game is one built around a very unique sense of humor, with the puzzle elements that force the player to seek out ways to break the game--in other words, to violate the protocol, and to get a game over screen. Hearing the phrase "have a nice day" has never meant so much anguish in failure as well as joy in discovery as in this game. As previously mentioned, the game is not without its problems, and it definitely is not a game for everybody. But my experience tells me that this is a game that you should try. I wish I had a VR setup to play this game, but it's good enough in the flattened version to recommend.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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