Technobabylon: A Cyberpunk Adventure Game
They had me at cyberpunk, and WadjetEye sealed the deal.
Anyone familiar with WadjetEye will recognise the style and no one does pixelly retro better. It’s a sum of the parts thing – the voice acting, the story, the score, the puzzling, the detail in the blocky graphics, and all the other bits and pieces come together to create something much more than it may at first appear to be.
Technobabylon takes place in Newton in 2087, a city run, or at least overseen, by a Central artificial intelligence. It’s a future in which a Trance state between minds can be preferred to living in the real world, and in which police are trained scientists in order to function in the bioengineered environment which has been created.
We meet two such police, Drs. Max Lao and Charlie Regis, but not before we spend some time with Latha Sesame, who came to Newton as a refugee from some South Asian conflict. Supported by the state, she prefers the Trance, which is probably not surprising given the squalid state of her public housing apartment. However a glitch has dumped her out of the Trance and locked her in the apartment, something she need to rectify and which occupies the first short part of the game. The Trance itself is an interesting puzzle adjunct, and will be utilised in order to move things forward.
Then we meet the good Drs., on a case involving a mindjacker who is stealing knowledge directly from people’s brains, the result of which is death. Dispatched downtown to follow a lead, a surprising interaction with a car leads to a further victim, and an unsuccessful rooftop pursuit of the perpetrator. Then it’s onto a train bomber, and then a grisly double murder with a less than helpful synthetic maid. The culmination brings us full circle in ways you will have to experience for yourself, but not before a nasty surprise for Max.
You play Latha in the first part, and while Lao and Regis are partners in pursuit of crime, you only play Regis, although there is very much a sense of both of them being involved. The third person perspective doesn’t lock you into “being” a character; rather you play with them. They are good foils for each other, in much the same way that Joey and Rosa were, and the relationship between them will undoubtedly build. They are different too, Charlie shunning some of the technological implants common to the world and preferring to be “off the grid”; Max being very much the model police person. Neither though are afraid to bend protocol when the circumstances require it.
If my description above makes things seem a little bitsy or disjointed, fear not. It’s a many layered plot, the threads of which have only just been woven. There is a lot to do and a lot to learn, and each of the events builds and adds depth to the game world, and begins to reveal just what sort of future this actually is.
Anyone familiar with a WadjetEye game will know exactly what to expect. Anyone else might be a little surprised by the graphics, but will most likely get sucked into the events, and forget all about the “look”. Except however when trying to discern an object against one particular background; the lack of definition meant that I just couldn’t see it. It was only that item, and hotspots are generally decently sized which helps, but I can’t point at what I actually can’t “see”.
Technobabylon is pure point and click, and puzzles are inventory based. It saw an earlier life as an (unfinished I believe) episodic freeware game, but has been reworked and is due to launch later this month. I for one cannot wait for the rest.
Initially I played on:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz
Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB