He’s cuddly and cute as a button, but if you conduct experiments on him Zero has no issue with expanding your body until it bursts. That sums up the contrasting images of Warp nicely. Warp is the story of an alien, known as Zero, who gets abducted and brought to an underground experimental lab. There the scientists try to gain a greater understanding of different life forms by conducting a series of cruel and torturous experiments. They remove Zero’s disk shaped object, which is the source of his power. However, after an initial set of basic trials, Zero gets reunited with his disc and seeks freedom.
debut title Warp
is a puzzle game as players attempt to outrun armed guards, manoeuvre around base defences and escape the laboratory. There are also grubs to collect, which enable players to upgrade their powers, and challenges to take on. These challenges bring out the sinister side of Zero as he must kill all humans as quickly as possible using a particular power or set of powers. Doing well in challenges earns players additional grubs, but they are not easy. These challenges also act as the multiplayer mode and feature leaderboards for comparison against the world. If all of that wasn’t enough, there are also film canisters to destroy scattered around the base, which unlock concept art.
Players are given the opportunity to approach certain rooms and puzzles in different ways. Unfortunately, it often seems like there is one best or correct way to do so. Trying to utilise an alternative tactic often makes the situation harder than it should be. On the other hand, players can be as sadistic as they choose when it comes to exacting revenge on the scientists working in the lab. Will you be benevolent and let them live or try to conjure up the most cruel and unusual punishments? When you can warp an object inside them, frag them manually or use their own experiments against them, the choice is often pretty easy.
is a novel concept and showed great potential. There are puzzles that are satisfying to complete and some of the environments are both interesting and challenging. Players must learn on the fly, but when you work out an intricate scenario without powers or in the dark, it feels rewarding. Unfortunately, there are times when the game gets overly frustrating, so even if players started the game by ignoring the scientists and their wailing they may find themselves fragging everything in sight. It’s amazing how exploding bodies can help relieve stress. The puzzles aren’t necessarily the hardest, but Warp requires deft reflexes and the occasional soft touch. It is a game of millimetres at times and Zero’s turning arc isn’t always the most conducive for this. The issue becomes evident when players try to navigate through laser fields or other tricky and time constrained situations.
The checkpoint system is a little unusual. Some are very close together, while others have grubs, collectibles and tough rooms between them. The base itself is a sprawling labyrinth and, while most of the objectives are straightforward, there are times where it is possible to lose track of where progress lies. Unfortunately, this is another incidence where the checkpoint system simply doesn’t work. Once players pass a checkpoint, it saves and brings players back to this point upon death. If lost, players could find themselves wandering around in a circle regretting the decision not to leave breadcrumbs in their wake. It is not possible to simply reload or kill Zero to get back to familiar surroundings, so players are forced to wander and are mocked by checkpoints saving their “progress” every so often.
The unique powers are interesting and once Zero acquires a few more than the basic Warp the game really opens up. Grubs that appeared beyond reach become far more accessible and some of the puzzles become much more interesting as players warp, send out echoes and swap objects. The learning curve of Warp is well paced, but there is always that nagging feeling that earlier levels and puzzles could have been more intriguing with more advanced powers. The title struggles to draw players in because there is no real storyline; it is very much a case of travelling from point A to point B as your telepathic communication from another alien tells you. However, it is worth sticking with because the later powers are far more intriguing and open up the puzzle potential of the game.
Warp is an interesting and novel game, but it is not without its downfalls. Some of the sections are overly frustrating and it fails to draw the player in as there is no storyline. Some of the puzzles are quite challenging, while others are made trickier by the controls. It is a game that is worth playing, particularly when it comes to the Challenge rooms and later puzzles, but there are times when it is tough to stick with it. Warp showed plenty of potential, but could have used a couple of tweaks and an overhauled checkpoint system.
Warp is out now on Xbox 360 and is due out on PlayStation 3 and PC on March 13th in North America and March 14th in Europe.