For me, Early Access games are hard to review as while you can expect problems and issues galore and a game more unfinished than Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium – it’s more about what it intends to be when it’s fully finished, which brings me neatly onto today’s offering from Steam early access; 2084 by Feardemic.
2084 was originally born from a 72-hour Game Jam organized by Feardemic themselves (a Game Jam is where a bunch of people forgo sleep and other necessities in making a game in a short timescale) and the result is a steampunk First Person Shooter made by members who’ve worked on Layers of Fear and >Observer so, it does have some pedigree.
As the story is unfinished at the time of writing. However, between the levels of the mains story, there are pre-rendered cutscenes of what’s to be a woman who seems to be hooked up to a VR setup and wonder about her room for a bit before cracking a cold one then being hooked back in again. While glancing at the steam page it says “Experience a Nano-Phage Outbreak Simulation gone wrong in an intense single-player Mini-Campaign”. However, the cutscenes didn’t offer any context to this story at all.
On a gameplay front, happily it is a bit more finished than the story. It’s the main mechanic is hacking which dotted about in the levels are elements in which you can hack with a brief QTE almost Dance Dance Revolution-like routine and then you’ve hacked it. Now, while it does seem harmless at first as an idea, its implementation is not particularly fun to play.
To start hacking you first have to aim at the object you want to hack, then click on the right mouse button and then the Hack Hack Revolution can get started. Which gets annoying when all of the ammo and health pickups are needed to be hacked which when a horde of identical asylum robotic patients of varying poses, speed, sizes and have televisions on their heads. Who just want to quickly bring you to death (coincidently, aside from the boss battles are the only enemy type in the game) it gets really frustrating fast.
And worse is that some objects that you can hack require a longer QTE which does bring the pace to a dead halt. In short the hacking while a harmless idea needs to be balanced better and having conventional health and ammo pickups would be much easier and fun to play. Also, the level design in the to my taste doesn’t suit the fast-paced FPS action the game is aiming for as its more corridors and not very big open areas.
Shooting is built for fast-paced but ammo doesn’t really matter too much as it only powers fully automatic fire or a grenade launcher with all the power of a wet fart and using the guns feel like I’m shooting paint rather than a laser, so, it isn’t the most satisfying experience. However, on a more positive note – the controls are quite easy to pick up as well. and there is an “Endless Mode” where you fight of waves of the copy and paste horde which is more fun and the level design for it suits the gameplay much better with a big wide open arena.
Other aspects the environments are futuristic enough but with dirty apartments and back streets look a bit brown and uninteresting and in parts completely covered in so much neon blue you would have thought Isaac Clarke is having a party. Sound design is fine but does need plenty of polish to elevate itself.
Also the game also has a few rough edges with enemies being spawned in from the sky or from thin air, and in parts, they could easily lose track of me by keeping my back to a solid closed door (which was the exit for the level before my objectives where done) on one level, made some conflicts stupidly easy. While I cannot condemn them too much for this as 72 hours in development time is not an awful lot of time. Stuff like the clones falling from the sky after sounding an alarm could have been done more elegantly if they emerged from the doors that were opened. It comes across a bit too much cheaply for me.
Happily, Feardemic have got solutions for this with their road map in which they plan to bring in new enemy types and new weapons, hacking scenarios and a more satisfying gameplay experience and more which is nice to see their plans and all but and I really do wish them for the best with this endeavour but as the game is right now in its current state I would struggle to recommend this anyone. There is potential for a solid game here but needs a lot of work for it to be shown. In particularly the hacking and the level designs in the main campaign to make it a fast FPS. But I will keep tabs on this and will revisit in the future no doubt.