Callum Petch Goes to Eurogamer 2013, Part 4: Ratchet & Clank, The Room 2, and Myriad

On the 27th and the 28th of September 2013, Callum Petch attended the Eurogamer Expo with the intention of playing as many games and attending as many panels as he could stand standing in lines for.  The following posts chronicle his adventures…

There are some games that you can go into thinking you know exactly what you’re going to get, but then you actually start playing said game and it ends up surprising you by either not being anything like you thought you were getting or being better than what you were expecting.  The games that feature in today’s post are neither of those things; some to more detriment than others.

For example, Ratchet & Clank: Nexus is another Ratchet & Clank game.  That’s it.  I really could just end my thoughts on the matter with that sentence because that’s all that honestly needs to be said and that will have already convinced you as to whether Nexus is worth your time or not.  As Ratchet, you platform around various levels with different crazy weapons (the new additions being a gun that turns your enemies into snowmen and a gun that fires a seemingly nice present but actually opens up to reveal itself as an angry, alien-eating plant of death) and utilising the game’s new gimmick – this time that you can create gravity tubes, which is something that I get the feeling they’ve done before – to traverse across the environment and solve simple puzzles.

Occasionally, you will be required to switch to Clank and utilize a different gameplay style (this time: side-scrolling platformer where you control gravity in the area with the right stick) in order to solve extremely simple puzzles and move on.  It hasn’t moved on graphically since A Crack In Time, the frame-rate was abysmal, frequently dropping into single-figures when more than myself and two enemies were on screen firing, and even the writing seemed to be phoning it in this time.  There was no point during the demo where I even so much as chuckled at a line of dialogue, something that I can normally count on from Ratchet & Clank.  It, far more so than All 4 One and, hell, even Q-Force, feels like a game that’s been pumped out because there somehow needs to be a new Ratchet game on store shelves every Christmas.

The Room 2I guess I’m just tired of Ratchet & Clank.  Sigh…  Remember when the release of a new Ratchet & Clank meant something?  When the release of A Crack In Time was something that everyone waited with baited breath for?  Instead of what we have now; I didn’t even know that Nexus existed until I walked past it randomly on the Friday afternoon and decided, “Eh, why not?”  More so than Call Of Duty, in my opinion, Ratchet & Clank needs to go away for a few years.  Take a break, come up with a whole slew of new and interesting ideas for the franchise, then come back in the middle of next-gen when it seems like Sony may be struggling with a giant, well-deserved fanfare.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all.

The Room 2, meanwhile, tells you everything you need to know right up there in the title.  No, it’s not an iOS-only sequel to The Room, the legendarily terrible/brilliant/terribly brilliant (delete where appropriate) movie from 2002.  Instead, it’s an iOS sequel to The Room, a 2012 mystery-room game where you are dropped into a room and tasked with finding the exit.  How does one go about this?  Well by interacting with the objects in the room in certain obtuse ways, of course!  Each room is essentially a series of mini-puzzles that need to be solved in order, in order to get one step closer to escaping the room you’re trapped in.

That’s it.  There’s nothing more to it.  It’s a formula, a formula that has remained rather unchanged since I remember playing a few these in the late 90s, but it’s a formula that still works.  Puzzles and design are vague enough to be challenging but the sign-posting is also clear enough for it to be obvious about what needs to be done next.  The hint system works along similar lines, clear enough to give you a push in the right direction but vague enough to avoid simply telling you what to do, even on the last of the given hints.  The Room 2 is clearly aiming for a very specific, no-nonsense audience due to its very sparse design – no music, low-lighting, it’s basically just you and the room – but I could see a lot of cross-over appeal with both standard puzzle game fans (figuring out the solution to the current section and moving on to the next feels extremely rewarding to my IQ) and adventure game fans (with some of the slightly more out-there solutions).  It’s an extremely high-quality entry into a genre I’m not particularly well-versed in and one that is pretty much perfect for the portable “I’ve got five spare minutes” nature of iOS.

MyriadAs for the third and final game in today’s entry, Myriad, it’s an Asteroids clone as styled by art design students.  The game simply drops you into the level and tells you to avoid touching the various other objects that are flying towards you.  To do this, you blow them up but, here’s the catch, once they’re blown up, they extend the space you can pilot your ship in.  You see, your game space is limited to that of the kind of coloured circles you see at the start and trying to escape just drags you back into its orbit.  You can move individual circles around by holding the right-mouse-key down and dragging it away, in order to give your ship a slight bit of respite, but it doesn’t widen your area.  To do that, you have to shoot down the incoming objects.

You’re scored based on how well you do, I think, but your main objective pretty much boils down to “survive for as long as possible.”  What sets it apart from other Asteroids-type games is its absolutely gorgeous visual design (this being an indie game, your time with it is backed by awesome electronica).  The game’s colours are stark, sharp and bold; clear and never blending into one another in a gameplay sense.  This makes the action on-screen crazy, especially if multiple circles are being formed from your explosions at once, but it’s never overwhelming and always clear as to where each ‘attack’ is coming from.  The one time this design falters is when the game is trying to notify you of your score, which was something I was never able to catch; the visual design not carrying over well to the art of score displays.

However, though I did have fun with Myriad, I do question its long-term appeal.  Whilst playing it down in the Indie Game Fair, I kinda got the impression that this was more of a high-end Flash game for a website that specialises in these types of things, rather than an actual game that will be seeing a full release and requires money to play.  I’ll admit that, though the visual design is absolutely gorgeous, my interest in it was starting to slip as I left the stall after about 6-or-so minutes with it.  It’s good fun in short bursts, but does Myriad have anything going on under the surface?  I worry that it doesn’t.


The Expo adventures will continue in further blog posts every weekday between Monday and Thursday until Callum Petch has ran out of articles here on GameSparked!

Callum Petch is sick of friends looking like lesbians.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and read his weekly gaming column Petchulant every Friday here on GameSparked!

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