Retro space adventure that lacks spark.
Space, the final frontier but not when it comes to video games. It’s a setting that gets plenty of exposure in the gaming world and sometimes scary, sometimes just atmospheric, there is one style that seems to be a bit lacking, which brings us to Albedo. A sci-fi first person puzzle adventure game that takes cues from old 1960’s style sci-fi. Unfortunately, it has a better sounding premise then the actual game play that follows.
Players assume the role of John T Longy, a man on a space installation who just happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time during his duties. After an explosion rocks the ship, he awakens to find himself on the floor below him and then he must solve his way out of the numerous situations, involving Aliens and puzzles of course. The first thing that did absolutely grab me is the visual design and art style. It’s not to say it blew me away or that it’s even great, but the style felt appropriate and there was a lot of colors and visual clues. In contrast to this though was the extremely bad voice acting, which might be on purpose but it’s not the kind that is so bad it’s good, it’s just weak. This is when things started to fall apart almost immediately for me.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $4.99
How long to beat: Five hours
Mission control: We have a problem.
This will give players that first initial impression of the game, and it’s a bit of a mixed result. OK, so how does it continue forward? How does it play? Rough. That’s the one thing I’ve taken away from my experience with this title. It looks visually interesting at times with wide eyes monsters and some cool creature designs, with environments that look like typical space ships or installations but with a vintage feel at moments. Yet here we are, stuck in the very first room and it’s a puzzle to figure how to get out. Ok I get it, it’s a puzzle game first and foremost, let’s get right to the nitty gritty.
I moved my character around and found myself bumping into items, clipping, and unsure exactly how this UI actually works. It feels convoluted and confusing, with little to no direction on how to use it properly. I fiddle with it for a bit and eventually learn the process. Of course here is where players will find items, collect clues and discover ways to progress through the wrecked locations, all while fighting the aliens that attack. Finding items in the room can be taxing and pixel hunting at times, yet thankfully there is a way to ping the room and see highlighted items, but it’s still rather easy to miss that.
While the puzzles can be interesting and sometimes downright clever, the whole experience is just weighed down by the fact that everything feels rough and nothing feels smooth at all. Not the interactions, not the puzzles, ot the fighting. I know this is a new release on consoles and PC players were first able to play this about a year ago, and there was mixed results then. From what I can tell, not much has been improved or done to the console versions, and I’m seeing similar remarks on the PC version that I’m experiencing here. It’s a shame because players would assume or hope the developer could have improved the experience or tweaked it. Maybe some work was done, but it feels as if it’s a completely straight port, roughness and all.
The idea behind Albedo is a cool one, but it’s one that doesn’t feel like the idea fully panned out. I appreciate everything the game does offer, especially as I hear it was created by a one man team. I just wish it had more polish and felt better to player. Some games create a sense of tension or unease due to their setting or atmosphere, here I was just struggling to play it and getting frustrated as I wanted to like this game way more then I walked away with. Being a fan of puzzles games I can handle all the issues at play here, and it makes for an interesting adventure at the least. If the genre never did anything for you personally or you have a passing mild interest, this won’t be the game to convert folks or even give players their money’s worth.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.