Dead Cyborg: Episode 1 (2011 game) review…

Dead Cyborg: Episode 1 (2011 game) review after the break…

Dead Cyborg: Episode 1 (2011 game) review…

Sensitivity is a trait that is learned far more from error then by trial. As children, we are given a certain amount of leniency for our behaviors because the adults that are responsible for us understand what our capabilities are. You don’t expect a 7-year old child to have the maturity of a veteran United Nations diplomat but you also don’t expect that same child to kill a kitten by throwing it off of a skyscraper, either. As children mature into adults, the amount of leniency shrinks until, one day, the children are the adults and then they must monitor the latest batch of children.

When reviewing movies, computer games, television shows and other media, I tend to review efforts by those accomplished in their craft. They have no excuses – If they’re good enough to create a film that’s even “Straight to DVD” (I almost wrote “Straight to Video”), then they’re good enough to create a good film. If they’re good enough to create a game that is in a box in a video game store, then they’re good enough to create a good video game.

“Dead Cyborg” is a first-person episodic adventure game. It was created by Endre Barath. I reviewed the only episode available, “episode 1.”

In the game “Dead Cyborg,” you are a person waking up, with amnesia no less (don’t they all?), in a ruined facility. The person appears to be the only survivor of an apparent aftermath of a fight between robots and humans. In order to escape the facility, the person – You – must figure out the clues to further your escape through the facility.

“Dead Cyborg” is a Blender-based game, Blender being the free and open-source modeling application that, in recent years, has included gaming capabilities. It is also what is called “Donation-ware,” meaning that if you like what you’ve played, you should donate what your leisure was worth.

I must admit, first and foremost, that my capacity of being a game designer is not impressive. I am always amazed at what people are capable of producing with the exact same programs that I stumble and fumble upon for weeks without creating anything of any significant value. Even if I locked myself into the proverbial cabin for six months with only the highest quality tutorials, I doubt that my output would match that of even an average journeyman half-interested in the craft.

Yet simply because I don’t have the same capabilities as those who are accomplished game designers or who simply accomplish constructing a game doesn’t mean that I can’t provide constructive criticism for that effort.

First and foremost, I would like to thank Endre Barath for producing “Dead Cyborg” and I hope that he continues his efforts at creating more episodes. I found the artistic style to be very thorough and compelling. Unfortunately, there are quite a few revisions that he should be encouraged into making in not just subsequent episodes but in the episode that I reviewed as well, including:

  • Using the Mouse – In Dead Cyborg, you use the “WASD” keys for movement and the keyboard arrow keys for looking. I would deeply encourage that this be changed to using the mouse for looking instead. Having read his website and his rationale for using the arrow keys, I can only respond that it is his game but, being donation-ware, it is also the player’s money that he desires to obtain. Adding the mouse for looking will not dilute the adventure experience but add convenience for the player which will encourage them to enjoy and invest in the game series more.
  • Collision Detection – Items are interacted with in this game by placing the cursor (which you move via the arrow keys) over that item. However, the collision detection for changing the cursor into a more interactive state has much to be desired. It is an unofficial mini-game to somehow finesse the cursor over a particular item (Holo-cubes, as one example) before that item may be interacted with. This aspect of the game really needs to be refined… A lot.
  • Walking Speed – Being an adventure game with no adversaries (at least, not in Episode 1), the rather casual stride of our player may be reasonable for the first exploratory pass at any particular level of the game. However, upon the first sign of not knowing what to do and re-exploration, that same casual stride becomes jarringly slow and plodding. Perhaps the ability to run or even just increasing the walking speed may decrease the amount of frustration that players would have when they are walking around a particular level for the fifth time, wondering what they have missed or why they have missed it.
  • Save / Load – Adventure games can be frustrating because not everyone will instantly realize that they need to give the horse statue to the monkey so he can throw it at the waiter who will drop the clay that you need to use to make a replica of the key that you obtain by putting sneezing powder all over the jacket of the butler. Adventure games are all about puzzles and if the puzzles are hard enough, it will take players a considerable amount of time to complete them. “Dead Cyborg” doesn’t have a save and load system – It instead uses passwords for people to start any particular level. Type the password in and start at the designated level. It would be most considerate if a save and load system was implemented instead because even though a person may be far faster upon a second play through, it is still annoying to have to retrace your steps for a few minutes before getting back to the same stage that you were in the level before you had to leave.
  • Fullscreen – Not as in “Fullscreen vs. Widescreen” but “Fullscreen vs. Windowed.” Yes, technically, you can approach a “Fullscreen” look in this game by expanding the window but it’s not the same. True Fullscreen would allow people to make the most of their monitors and there are a lot of people who have small monitors.

Besides these essential game play considerations, there are also a few artistic considerations that would also make the game appear more valuable and donation-worthy. However, I will leave those recommendations aside as the above considerations should really, REALLY, REALLY be considered before any further discussions be held.

It appears obvious that there is a good game hidden within the “Dead Cyborg” program – The art style is compelling and a few of the puzzles are adventure game staples (fill balloon with water then throw water-filled balloon onto fire, for example). Yet when rising from the level of “Hey, look at what I can do!” to “Pay me for this,” the amount of leniency shrinks dramatically. My recommendation would be to stop production on Episode 2, go back to Episode 1 and implement the following considerations from above.

As it stands right now, “Dead Cyborg: Episode 1″ plays like a nice High School project but as donation-ware? I’ll wait until the next version to decide on that.

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