Developer & Publisher: Alessandro Guzzo
Released: October 14, 2021
Requirements: Windows 7/8/10 64 bit operating system
Processor: Minimum Intel i5-4590 @3.3 GHz or AMD Ryzen3 1200
Recemmended Intel i5-6600 @3.3GHz or AMD Ryzen 5 1400
RAM: 8 GB minimum, 12 GB recommended
Video Card: Recommended Nvidia GTX 1050 2 GB; AMD RX 560 2GB
Recommended Nvidea GTX 1060; AMD RX 580
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 20 GB storage
SSD highly recommended
The Alien Cube
If you like Lovecraftian things, and donít mind a bit of running away, there are four or so hours of enjoyment to be had here.
Guzzo productions is Alesandro, a sole game developer whose earlier game, The Land Of Pain, I didnít play. On the strength of his Alien Cube I will certainly go back and check it out.
You play as Arthur, a man who awakens in a strange cave and for whom even stranger things almost immediately unfold. That he starts again in his bedroom is the least of the weirdness in his world, but the mundane letter from Uncle Edgar suggests a next step forward.
It contains all those things you would expect in something that self identifies as Lovecraft Ė mystery, monsters, cults and visions, bodies, groans and howls. Not to mention an abundance of ickiness. I didnít find it scary, but it had the appropriate tone.
The game plays in the first person and utilises the mouse and keyboard. Use WASD for getting around and the rest of the keyboard for certain actions (jump, run, crouch, etc.), and the mouse for exploring and interacting with the environment. Interestingly, you don't have a visible cursor. Instead, your vision is fixed centre screen, but you can look through 360 degrees from that fixed position. In essence, your perspective pivots around that fixed point by moving your mouse, and if you come with range of something that you can look at, a "pop-up" label will emerge. It works well, especially as the hotspots are rather generous. As far as I can recall the pop-up was always, "examine," but it could then result in one of a number of actions such as reading, taking, or just examining the relevant item.
It might also generate the use of an inventory item, assuming you have the correct one in your possession; eg. if a door is locked and you have the key, it will open for you, but if you lack the key you will probably get feedback along the lines of ďthis door is locked.Ē A lot of doors/chest/drawers canít be unlocked, but if it can, having the key or other relevant object will make it happen.
What follows is that there is no inventory management whatsoever. You donít look at them, or choose to use them, or combine them. You simply have to have them, and they will be used when needed. Once not needed they will disappear, which was usually after the first use, and you rarely have more than one item at a time. To my recollection I had two items on two occasions, and that was it.
Which is irrelevant really, given the way the game uses the inventory. Once the game Ďdecidesí it will manage it for you, it makes no difference how many items you have at any one time. Other than they are silhouetted bottom right in your game screen, so the less of their visible silhouettes there are the better.
The detail in the visuals is exceptional, and much of the sound scape and the ambient sound is similar. I was less enamoured by the voice acting of Arthur, which is offset by the fact that it is fairly limited. There is very little spoken word, much of the feedback being unvoiced, and except for the journal pages, Arthur is the only person in the game.
Those pages provide the backstory, the breadcrumbs left by Edgar. Itís a supernatural not terribly sensical tale, but why would it be? Make of the end what you will.
Itís a fairly gentle game in terms of puzzling, almost all of it being find and use the inventory item in order to move on. Examining things can be important triggers; more than once there was an item I could see but which I couldnít acquire until I had a reason to do so. Once or twice it seemed a bit clunky, but generally worked well.
There are some actiony bits - a bit of jumping, and some running away. None of it was hard, but some of the latter was a bit aimless. Running around in the snow trying to find the next warming brazier before you freeze or are caught or are chased off a cliff for example. To be fair though, the environment often provides clues; an obvious path or a light in the distance. But once or twice I felt quite lost, which in its own way added a little something to the adventure, once I got past my frustration.
You can die, by being caught for instance by whatever it is that is chasing you, or perhaps by falling into the seethingness below or just off a cliff. Which I did a little bit of, but the game just returns you to the last check-point and you try again. As I said earlier it isnít hard, but expect to have to make an appropriate number of efforts to get through.
There is no saving at will, which I never like, but the autosave points are very regular, and I never felt like ďI wish I could save here.Ē Which was in keeping with the overall vibe; this game wants you to have a good Lovecraft time, and is built to help you have one.
The story is presented in Chapters, and you can choose to restart a Chapter through the menu. Or most usually just choose resume, and pick up where you left off. On one occasion I did get a message saying I had to start at the Chapter beginning because the most recent save point wasnít compatible with the game version, and while backwards compatibility should be a given, it only occurred once in the month or so over which I played the game. Perhaps though itís something for Alesandro to look into.
I already said I would play his other game as a result of playing this. Which perhaps says it all really.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB