This Is Not A Test Review

This Is Not A Test Review

Mar 18, 2015

This Is Not A Test tells the story of a man’s attempts to survive a chemical weapon attack on his country. With just a truck, a few skills and a gun they must work their way through a variety of harrowing situations to survive the disaster. Or not survive as the case will likely be.

This Is Not a Test is all about choice. There are multiple ways to handle a situation. What items and skills your character has always affects what options there are. For example if you’re in your truck and gas is entering you can tape up your cars air vents to protect yourself, if you have duct tape or simply skilfully weave though the gas cloud to avoid it, if you have driving skill. Violence is much easier and indeed often only survivable if you have brawling or marksmanship skills as well.

Screenshot_2015-03-05-12-27-17TINT however isn’t that well written. Characters you meet are boring and one dimensional, there is minimal dialogue and what’s there is dull. The story just lacks tone and the desolate feeling that better visual novels like Overlive have. Interesting details are few and far between and there is just little payoff for reading it. Go ahead, shoot everyone you meet. You sure won’t feel bad about it. Some of the endings are ridiculous as well. Like the one where the military simply allows you to starve to death. Or be crushed. Are they the world’s most inept soldiers?

Speaking of feeling bad, death happens often in TINT. The story is quite short, a lot of the endings are bad and you die often unless you had the foresight to grab certain items. There are checkpoints and the game is short enough that restarting isn’t a huge bother. The game keeps track of what endings you’ve seen including ones where you die so it’s fun to try to find new and creative ways to kill yourself which isn’t something that often happens in a game.

Screenshot_2015-03-05-12-48-40This is Not a Test unfortunately features ads. While you’re working your way through the story and trying to immerse yourself in the world an ad banner is flashing away at the top of the screen. The ad isn’t even static; it is constantly moving and changing, trying to get your attention which is a superb way to distract someone when they’re trying to read. Removing the ad is part of the game’s solitary IAP, which is a $2.50 fee to remove ads as well as display color artwork rather than black and white. This is totally worth the cost.

Some of the endings in TINT make no sense at all. For example in one ending you’re trapped in a house that fills with gas, suffocating you. The problem with this is that I had already picked up a gas mask early in the game and had it with me still. Apparently, my character just decided to not use the gas mask he bought hours beforehand. There was no option to use it either. What the?

This Is Not a Test is worth a read, but it is nowhere near as good as a far more advanced game like Overlive and the writing and logic leave much to be deserved. Still, it’s certainly not a bad romp.

The Maze Runner Review

The Maze Runner Review

Oct 21, 2014

Admittedly, the runner game category is a bit stacked. Since Temple Run, we have seen a steady number of development houses use the tried and true genre to encase game offerings. And why not? It’s an intuitive game type, with a bit of twitch elements usually tossed in, and varied environments to help frame the gameplay. familiarity can be an advantage in mobile gaming.

With The Maze Runner, we get the trifecta of running games: decent graphics, leveled gameplay and a current-ish book/movie tie-in.

Backstory? It’s based on the movie that is based on the book (that all have the same name). Young people and dystopia are all the rage nowadays, but kids killing kids isn’t at the core of this adventure; an actual maze with teenage runners is. The basic premise is that there is a maze, and the teens run to find a way out, careful to avoid the deadly “Grievers” that inhabit the maze.

The gameplay will look familiar to anyone who has dabbled into runners; the basics are present: three lanes, withmaze1 obstacles that come into play. Gestures control the runner, as is usual in these type of games; swiping left or right causes the runner to dart right or left on a straightway, and to cut in the the direction of the swipe when the straightway ends. Swiping up causes the ever-forward moving runner to jump up, and a downwards swipe causes the runner to slide for a brief spell.

After the basics, the gameplay boils down to making it through the maze segment successfully in the allotted time. Some nice elements are tossed in, as noted, it’s leveled, and there are a few tricks up the games sleeve; first, the collectibles; a set of puzzle pieces need to be collected to successfully pass a stage and unlock the next part of the maze. There are gold coins and boosts hat can be collected; the former allows one to purchase stuff in the in-app store, while the latter help with directly with completion of the runs.

The game is ostensibly free, and makes no bones about requesting cash for the more of the suaver characters. The gold coins can be used to improve attributes too.

Familiarity is good, but The Maze Runner might suffer from being a tad bit too comfortable. It feels as if it doesn’t want to change the genre too much, and is comfortable as such. It does work with or without the surrounding story, and is a decent time-waster.

Infinite Universe Review

Infinite Universe Review

Jul 30, 2013

There’s a sound reason behind the unpopularity of choose-your-own-adventure books. They require a lot of work on behalf of both the creator and the consumer, a lot of talent that could otherwise produce many common books, and in the end, they’re simply not that more exciting than the common ones. Of course, it doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve to exist, or that they can’t be interesting in their own way.

Infinite Universe is a choose-your-own-adventure book that’s ever-so-slightly closer to a game than its paper counterparts, and a bit more challenging. The story is a complex sci-fi clutter that, after an hour of playing, still isn’t clear to me. It’s mostly a casual alien-filled action with impossible technologies and cross-planetary adventures, but there are bits of a more complex story, showing up here and there. Describing it would be useless anyway, as the events may differ, depending on the player’s choices. The writing stile is mostly alright, although it’s not that impressive. A particular problem I’ve had with it is the word “whilst” that sticks out on the pages like a Christmas tree in a mosque. Anyway, it didn’t blow me off my feet, but the book is sufficiently interesting and unusual, and definitely counts as a quality literature. The pages of text are often divided by pictures, and enriched with sounds that aren’t anything stunning, but serve well to immerse the player into the world.

Infinite Universe 2As for the gameplay part – it’s mostly absent. Apart from choosing what paths to take, there’s almost nothing to do to keep control of the situation. Combat is calculated from several parameters, with two of them being randomly chosen at the beginning: vitality and fitness. The rest is gained while playing the game. Although the gameplay is not hugely different to the paper RPG books, it’s still interesting to play. There are lots of different choices to make, and there are plenty of paths to choose. There are even three different difficulty levels, depending on whether you like hardcore action, or more interested in enjoying the book. All in all, Infinite Universe offers more than most of the non-digital book RPGs, but whether it’s enough to be interesting in the long run, is unclear to me.

In the end, I can’t say for sure, whether Infinite Universe is good, or simply alright – the book needs to be read from the beginning to the end to say that. I do know that it’s not bad, but it didn’t change my perception of choose-you-own-adventure books much. So, I would definitely recommend it to people, who are already familiar with, and enjoying the books like this one. As for the rest – it’s a very unusual and fresh experience, but bear in mind that it’s a lot closer to a book than to a game.