Albedo: Eyes From Outer Space Review
Albedo: Eyes From Outer Space was developed by Z4GO and published by Merge Games. The game was originally released on Steam in April 2015, and will be available on Xbox One and Playstation 4 from 20th January 2016 at a price of $14.99. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels.
Albedo: Eyes From Outer Space is another in the long list of adventure games that originated on Steam and has made its way to Xbox One. This is the work of just one man, Fabrizio Zagaglia, and while it is has a few decent moments it unfortunately is a pretty shoddy effort overall.
What I enjoyed:
B-Movie atmosphere – I can tell you from the very start that I really wanted to like this game. I am a big fan of adventure games so the combination of aliens, science fiction, mysterious corporations and conspiracies sounds like a recipe for a great game. This is easily one of the least enjoyable games I have played in a long time however one thing they have got right is making Albedo: Eyes From Outer Space play and feel like you are in a b-movie. The plot is typically cheesy; you play as John T. Longy, a night watchman at the mysterious Jupiter research facility where something has gone drastically wrong. You have to work your way through a series of environments while fighting the aliens you encounter and avoiding the various traps that have been set out to stop you. This game is not a looker (more on that down below) but that actually helps with the feel of being in a 60’s sci-fi film.
Excellent achievements – Not everyone plays games for achievements but they are pretty big business in the gaming world. Far too many achievement lists come with generic sounding titles that fail to reward gamers for thinking outside the box, so Z4GO should be applauded for coming up with such a diverse and thought provoking list. You could play through the whole game and barely pick up an achievement, so exploration and experimentation are encouraged as well as rewarded. The names of the achievements reference a lot of classic science fiction favourites too, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, Spiderman and Back To The Future all feature. There are also a ton of easter eggs to find within the game, and it is a lot of fun finding items like a ghost-trap from Ghostbusters, it’s just unfortunate that the rest of the game doesn’t seem to have received as much care and attention.
What I disliked:
See no evil, hear no evil – As I said above the game has a certain b-movie charm and the looks help maintain that feel to a degree. However this is a pretty ugly game that at times can be hard to navigate. A lot of areas are really dark so unless you are playing on the easiest setting items can be really difficult. There are a lot of rough edges on surfaces and there seems to be a weird filter used throughout the game that makes things look like they are out of focus. Descriptions in the game are also poorly done. I often needed to climb a ladder to progress to the next room yet it would be described as a set of stairs. It is only a small thing but to me it feels that the attention to detail was lacking. Albedo: Eyes From Outer Space also has quite possibly the worst in-game music I have heard for several years. Even the menu music is a repetitive mess of what sounds like Morse code. It really grates and is repeated at several points throughout. The dialogue is also shockingly bad. I’m unsure whether it is intentionally done in this way to fit with the games aesthetics, but I feel that would be giving this more credit than it deserves. Whenever you interact with an object John will comment with the enthusiasm of a man awaiting dental surgery. The delivery of the voice feels flat and sounds like the voice actor was bored.
Perplexing puzzles and clunky controls – Puzzles can make or break a game. Too easy, and people will whizz through the game. Too difficult, and people will inevitably give up. Unfortunately the puzzles in Albedo: Eyes From Outer Space are poorly balanced and can lead to a lot of frustration. A really cumbersome control scheme doesn’t help with this; accessing the inventory to use an item you have picked up can feel like you are trying to write a thesis on nuclear physics. If you close your inventory and then re-open it the item you used moves to the very front of the list, while your cursor goes to the very back. If you are really stuck you can use a hint system which will highlight objects of interest in green, if you are still stuck you can also set the difficulty to the easiest which will permanently highlight all of the objects needed to progress through the game.
Albedo: Eyes From Outer Space really feels like a missed opportunity. If this had maybe released at the start of the Xbox One’s lifecycle it may have been easier to forgive its flaws. Unfortunately there have been so many great titles that it is impossible to not compare them. If you are a gamerscore hunter then this is probably worth picking up in a sale, however if you are looking for something to test your logic or an interesting world to explore this is not the game for you.
Score: Skip it
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