by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
As a child adopted in infancy, you've always wondered about your biological family. One day, you get the opportunity to learn something about your lineage when you're called in to infiltrate your grandfather's private island. Your grandfather, who is an inventor and an Artificial Intelligence programmer, has gone missing and in his absence, his AI, which controls the robotic security forces on the island, has become extremely protective. Afraid of the AI's increasing aggressiveness, the military is planning to carpet bomb the entire island just to be on the safe side, but they've graciously decided to give you 73 hours to infiltrate the island, collect certain items, and hopefully discover some more details about your family history. But why should you, an adopted child with no personal stake in the matter, no apparent military training or experience, be sent in to deal with this seemingly dangerous task? Well, because your grandfather programmed everything from security force fields to computer consoles to interact only with his DNA. As his only living relative, you are the only one who might be able to access the island's systems. This all sounds pretty good, right? It probably would be, too, if the game actually worked.
As I started the game up, it launched in windowed mode. I made my way to the options menu and was surprised to see that there were very few graphics options to choose from. As I've just purchased a new graphics card and would consider my rig to be upper-middle class, I didn't think this game would give me any problems and as I played through the two intro scenes, it didn't. As soon as I arrived on the island, however, the game's framerate dropped drastically. So drastically, in fact, that the game became completely unplayable. The first thing you are supposed to do is make your way from the dock where you landed to the first buildings on the island on an ATV. I ended up crashing the thing into the first tree I attempted to pass just because the framerate was so choppy. I ended up running the whole way to the first building as the ATV ended up upside down and I found no way to flip it over. Even in complete darkness, the game's framerate didn't improve. I ended up being caught by the first guard who saw me and was transported what appeared to be a holding cell. “Finally, an indoor scene. This must play better.” I naively thought. It didn't. Not even a little. This game has worse framerate on my rig than Arma 3 with everything turned to max, including the view distance.
The framerate would be excusable if the game featured extremely detailed graphics, high definition textures, and some serious particle systems, but it doesn't. Far from it, in fact. Cypress Inheritance: The Beginning looks like a PlayStation 2 title designed using outdated methods common in the era of the original PS. Take the first scene in the game, for example. There are a number of force fields blocking you from accessing certain items in a room. The yellow ones are locked and the blue ones are open. They are of varying height, but they all have the same animated texture. For some inexplicable reason, the design team has decided that, instead of tiling the texture to get roughly the same effect on all the fields, they scale it to fit the size of the field, making the taller fields extremely pixellated and ugly. This is a problem that rears its ugly head repeatedly throughout the game.
If your grandfather made his fortune creating AI, he cannot have had much competition on that market. The guards that are actively looking for a target emit a yellow light which lights up the area in front of them. This lets you see in which direction they are looking and their stance as the light will turn red if they spot you. These guards are extremely unreliable, however, as you'll sometimes be able to sprint up behind them without them noticing, but at other times they'll see you and start shooting at you from seemingly impossible distances, occasionally even through cover.
Bad sound design
The music in the game is quite all right, but the rest of the game's sounds are just as badly designed as the graphical performance. In the beginning of the game, I had to turn the volume up to hear what the helper was saying and as I made my way to the island, everything sounded good. Then, as I got on the ATV, my eardrums almost collided with one another in the middle of my head as I jumped for the volume control to turn it back down. Adjusting this, however, lead to some other sounds disappearing completely. There appears to be no standardisation of volume in the files the game is accessing, leading to this immense imbalance, which is kind of a beginner's mistake.
On the whole, the game feels like it was designed in patches with no one overseeing the quality of the end product. Some textures look nice, others are dreadful. Some sounds are OK, others are not. This all adds up to a schizophrenic product that is a chore to play and I for one got no enjoyment out of it. The idea is great and I was very much looking forward to getting my hands on it, but the execution leaves everything to be desired.
A good idea... in theory.
Dreadful optimisation, ugly visuals, vast differences in sound effect volume levels, unplayable.