I found a game in my Steam account. Its name is Twin Sector, and it intrigued me. I had gotten it from Steam’s christmas sale, from some indie bundle. However, it was a first-person game with ambitious graphics (brown-grey). The premise is that earth is polluted and humans are put to cryo-sleep underground to awaken to a better world, kind of like organic Necrons. Something goes wrong, our main character is awoken with amnesia and is directed by an AI to save the facility. To help her she magically finds gloves that can either push objects and lauch herself in the air, or pull objects and pull herself to high places.
I never finished it.
The game is a straight up Portal wannabe. The player character is a woman with special technology with which she solves puzzles thrust upon her by a disembodied AI voice. That by itself is no crime, but the quality is.
I can see where the designers were going with it. They wanted a physics-based puzzle game, driven by a simple, if intriguing plot. But the game is riddled with annoying oversights: They had no proper writer, no good voice actors and the gameplay would have been good if it were not so bloody slow.
Portal is a relatively fast game. Chell moves quickly and the portals can save momentum, creating giant, death-defying leaps. Twin Sector is slow. The main characters running speed feels like walking in any other first person shooter. The gameplay is slow, and I find myself hurrying the main character along and waiting for the gloves to recharge. And to top it off, the quick-load function takes about ten seconds.
That bridges me to the issue of death. Ashley, the main character, apparently has a brittle-bone disease, since two-meter fall kills her. Chell has spring coils on her feet, which enable her to survive an impact to concrete from terminal velocity. Not very realistic, but extremely handy in a platforming game. In Twin Sector, the player will have to cushion almost every fall with a push from the gloves. That is, if they have any energy left.
Ashley and the AI converse a lot. But the dialogue is head-bangingly dull and the voice acting is amateurish. I especially hated the AI, because he does not feel computery. He does not any electronic disturbance in his voice, making it feel like he is just a guy projecting his voice in Ashley’s head. And she has a habit of sighing a lot and repeating everything the AI says in questioning voice (“Tracers!?” “Metal Gear?!”). She sounds like a simpleton.
The most idiotic part of the game is that they expect the player to believe that the environments are completely sensible. There are dead-ends with moving laser traps, twenty-meter rooms with moving platforms, zero-gravity zones and exploding barrell dispensers, among other stupidities.
There was one part in the game where the AI says that some area is too well defended to go through, and notes that there should be an entrance to an air conditioning vent or something in Ashley’s vicinity. There was. It was the only way I could go, since every level is a linear corridor! There are not even locked doors to provide the illusion of a sprawling facility, just a one-way corridor that goes through incinerators, twenty-meter deep shafts with no ladders, laser traps and mountains of barrels and metal crates. Portal’s levels make no sense because they are meant to be a training course. The later levels that explore the facility feel like a science facility. I can see how Twin Sector wanted to emulate them, but they made the mistake of trying to apply sense into them.
The game had some potential, but it was lost in stupidity and bad decisions. Speed up the game, make the gloves’ power infinite, multiply the fatal drop height by at least two, get a better dialogue writer and voice actors and make the levels make sense. That way the game would feel like just a Portal clone instead of a bad Portal clone.