Saturday, 19 January 2013

Review: E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy

 Where to begin? First of, I decided to give E.Y.E. a try despite an overwhelming amount of negative critic and user reviews, but it seems in the end I might have to agree with a lot of them. Although it's not a terrible game, a lot of its flaws are still way too prominent, like ugly scars. The game has some really interesting ideas and a lot of promise and potential, but most of it is severely under-delivered. I have respect for the developers for doing a lot of things differently to conventional methods, but this also means they delved too far into the uncharted, experimental territory, and hence some areas turned out fine and other areas were a complete mess. In addition the game feels as though it was rushed, untested, and released in the alpha/beta stage. I'm going to break it down into several aspects now.

 First of, it's a mix of FPS gameplay with Role-playing aspects. The FPS mechanics actually work really well. The guns are incredibly fun to use and the enemies are very responsive to being hit. Just as a simple FPS game it could've turned out quite well. The only drawback on this side perhaps would be that for some unknown reason the character never automatically reloads the gun once the clip is empty, which at times can be frustrating to the player (for example, try using a double-barrelled shotgun and having to manually reload after firing every 2 shots).

 Now as an RPG this game was a complete disaster. Although I really enjoyed the setting and some of the locations were really beautiful and had a nice cyberpunk theme, the game really failed to immerse the player. Bad translation and very bad dialogue are some of the things that made the setting less believable (e.g. does anyone know what an "embarrassing turret" is? Because I don't).

 The story manages to lose your attention pretty much after the first level. I think one of the problems also is the lack of voice acting. I think for a game like this, voice acting is an absolute must. One of the fundamental problems about this game is too much text, both when speaking to NPCs and when browsing through your character skills and stats. The fact that the text is small too makes it all the more annoying.

 The game also plays strangely. A single player campaign plays like a multiplayer map, with both you and enemies being able to respawn multiple times. This is one of the things that really breaks the immersion as you see the same enemies keep repeatedly respawning at a spawn point as soon as you turn around and just rushing at you recklessly without any tactics. In addition the levels are way too big, often requiring tonnes of pointless walking and backtracking. I literally had to use my sprint power in order to get about, or else the game was a drag. And to make it worse, the game doesn't ever let you save. It only has a few auto-saves spaced far apart, usually at the end of each mission, which could go on for more than an hour or so.

 I think when playing this game, most RPG elements can be easily ignored. Just a run and gun tactic the entire game will get you far. The only RPG-related mechanic you need to know is how to get weapons from the armoury and into your inventory. The weapon inventory management was pretty cool, I admit. The hacking mini-game was also an interesting and refreshing addition, although at times it felt way too random and poorly tested.

 Also something I've really got to mention is the fact that to resume your campaign after having quit the game is a trouble in itself. First the game loads and takes you to a portal area, and then you've got to walk to the portal and it loads again before you finally get back to where you left the campaign. Now I don't see a point of having to bring the player to the portal area and make us wait through TWO loading screens instead of ONE. That is just poor game design.

 Overall to summarize, E.Y.E. has a lot of potential and interesting ideas, both relating to the setting and the game mechanics, but a lot of it is still in a very rough and unpolished state. It plays well as an FPS, but terribly as an RPG. Therefore if to go round and shoot at waves of enemies is what you're after, then you might in fact enjoy this game, but if you're expecting an immersive first-person RPG, akin to Deus Ex, then you're in for a nasty disappointment.

My score: 6.5/10

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