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Tobin

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  1. I read in a review, paraphrased, that this game would've been a wonder in a world where Portal didn't exist. I agree. This game is an alternative, and somewhat weaker, take on the first-person puzzle genre. Instead of working with portals, you have a gun that stores and fires various kinds of energy pellets which activate doors, walkways, or other machinery. Like Portal, the goal is to use your gun and the surrounding environment to progress to the next area. No actual portals to be seen, though, The puzzle mechanic is actually quite decent, with the puzzles getting more complex with new elements being introduced at regular intervals. As in Portal, alternate solutions exist in some places. Moments of "Oh, duh! How'd I miss that?" abound. I found it a rewarding, and at times frustrating, experience. There are also "bonus" rooms that require some out-of-the-box thinking, often utilizing a gameplay element that isn't used anywhere else in the game. As an example, and a slight spoiler (so, warning!) one bonus room can be solved by walking slowly through it rather than running, with the walk button being something most players forget even exists because it's not strictly required anywhere else. The bonus rooms were the most rewarding of all for me. The story tying it all together is rather simple and weak, and gets thinner as the game progresses. The ending is a bit dumb. Where Portal was comedy-horror mix, this game tries to be more philosophical and sombre, delving into deep philosophy while still being accessible to regular folks, and attempting to do that in the interstitial moments between puzzles. It comes off more as pretentious and tryhard. The character you speak to, TOM, is an artificial intelligence, but unlike GlaDOS, he's working quite well, and he isn't much into jokes. This makes him a flatter character, but still, I have to congratulate the voice actor who did a wonderful job with what he was given. Don't play this for the story. The puzzles are decent. The replay value is low. If you enjoyed Portal, this is a different flavour of the same product. I don't regret purchasing it.
  2. Ouch. I can see a lot of people did not care for this one, including Ross. That's understandable as it's a "game" that doesn't really give you a great deal of choices (and all of which have minor effects), doesn't test your skill a whole lot, and tells a story with an ending that can feel like an anticlimactic cheat. All that said, I enjoyed it immensely. It has a "flavour" that I like: Very limited cast of characters, slow-burn story, and gorgeous visuals. The ending satisfied me by being a subversion of what was expected, not by pulling a crazy swerve at the last moment, but by dialling back the craziness and making you realize how high you were building up the plot in your own mind — the lesson I took is that life is strange, people are morally gray, but Occam's Razor still applies.
  3. Amazing visuals and enthralling tracks. The campaign is a good intro to all the mechanics, and tells a fascinating (though confusing) story, but it's rather short. After that — there is too much of a "git gud" mentality to the game, especially in the community. It's hard to find tracks that are fun and forgiving to more casual, or simply unskilled, players. The focus is on crazy challenges, optimizing routes, and shaving fractions of a second. The community definitely produces some "fun" tracks, but where "fun" is too often defined as "keep trying this absurd jump/transition until you can figure it out". Protip: Take some time to work out the controls. They can be quite confusing at first. You'll probably be best served by customizing away from the defaults. (The controls are fully customizable and support many types of controllers, including classic joysticks. Keyboard-only is possible but not recommended.)
  4. Very "on-rails" kind of gameplay. Puzzles are pretty basic. Its strengths lie in the story, atmosphere, and visuals. Treat it as more of a (barely) interactive episode of The Outer Limits than an actual game. (But, like, a two-parter season finale kind of episode.) If that doesn't sound fun, then it's probably not for you.
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