by Quinn Levandoski
previewed on PC
If you’ve ever seen the criminally underappreciated ‘90s animated movie Osmosis Jones, you’ll probably be intrigued by the premise of upcoming first person medical shooter Project Remedium, currently in the middle of their campaign on Kickstarter. In developer Atomic Jelly’s upcoming biological adventure you’ll have the chance to jump into the role of Nano+, one of a multitude of nanobots injected into a sick patient to do away with their ailments one organ at a time. I was able to sit down with a demo version of the game and, to be frank, I came away a lot less happy that I thought I’d be.
Bad weapons, bad enemies
Put bluntly, Project Remedium’s Combat feels really, really bad right now. It’s a fast-paced game in which you’ll need to constantly be on the move in combat, yet at the same time your guns seem to encourage the opposite. Each gun is semi-automatic, which isn’t great for fast-paced arena-style interactions. “Bullet” traversal speed is another issue that doesn’t help, shooting relatively slow projectiles making it frustratingly challenging to hit enemies that are also constantly on the move. Add in a right gun that has visible shots and left one that doesn’t and you’re left with no visual feedback for shots that are already more difficult to land than they should be in a game of this type.
Speaking of the guns, each one seems to be different beyond just their looks, and I’m a bit confused to admit that I still don’t really know what each one is supposed to be for. At the very beginning of the demo I had to use one and then the other in particular order to deal with an infected threat, but after little explanation there I was never any further instruction on the matter. If there is a main difference, which there appears to be due to their different ammo and looks, the game really needs to improve how it communicates just what this difference is.
Equally as disappointing to the gunplay is the fact that the enemies are pretty darned dull. In my time with Project Remedium, 90% of my encounters were with evil re-purposed nanobots, or some kind of ball-shaped organisms. The former slide around with no movement animations and shoot green pulse beams, while the latter just kind of rolls at you (too encourage movement I suppose). Neither are terribly fun to play against, none of the enemies seem to have much animation in their movement and all grow boring fairly quickly. There are a few other enemies that pop up and there are definitely some cool visual concepts once in awhile, but they’re too few and far between to impress.
Missions have also been disappointing so far. It seems like there are a lot of really cool objective opportunities tied to the concept of healing different parts of the body, but they’ve largely consisted of “go to this point,” after which I’ll head back to a central area or move on. I totally get that this is a lot of missions in first person shooters, but they lacked any real weight, momentum or meaningful challenge. There would be some enemies along my way, I’d sludge through them (and eventually start just running past them where possible) and trigger my objective. Objectives are also placed pretty darned far away, meaning I spend just about as much time grappling around as fighting (which I didn’t entirely have an issue with give my opinion of the combat). On top of that, it’s odd that it’s sometimes a better, faster option for completing objectives to die rather than to fight. The save points are often next to quest givers, and dying brings you back to that last save area.
A ray of light to add possible development of combat and flow lie in a boost that you can unlock as your nanobot buddy levels up, along with a rudimentary crafting system for consumables. Unfortunately, as is a regrettable trend in this article, I was left wanting. The crafting is poorly explained and laden with a poor design interface, and there’s little explanation about what the available items to craft exactly do. The power tree, while more straightforward, could also use a bit more explanation, as some of the terms and their effects had no meaning to me.
Simply put, I did not enjoy my time spent with Project Remedium. I know this sounds harsh, but I really don’t remember the last time that I’ve had less fun in combat. And in a shooter that’s a pretty big deal. I do feel a bit bad about picking apart a game from a small independent developer that’s still in development, but with the game’s Kickstarter page claiming a “May 2017” estimated delivery date, I’m not sure how much can still really change. For a game about healing, it’s a bit ironic that playing it hurts so badly.