by Carston Anderson
reviewed on PC
I don’t like ROOT. Maybe it’s because the choice of an all-neon color palette reminded me of a low budget Tron, and I hate Tron. Maybe it was because of the plot, where you play as Edward Summerton (No blood relation to Edward Snowden, I am told, but my sources are still looking) trying to hack into some computer system created by a genius gone mad that’s being used as a playground in some sort of war. Or maybe it could be that the enemy NPCs fall firmly into the “Generic Goon” category until you go toe-to-toe with the headless horseman and some kind of digital dark wizard.
To elaborate further on the plot, you are a man by the name of Edward Summerton going through this incredibly advanced computer system made by a man who wanted nothing more than to be left alone with his little computers but has been co-opted and is being used for “the darkest of purposes”. Edward wants total access to the ROOT system and nothing more because he is the protagonist and all around good guy that wants to do… something. Maybe I just didn’t get far enough into the game for the plot to really take off and I’ll admit that, but we haven’t exactly been given the most gripping or engaging backstory or introduction.
Once Edward Summerton does get into this computer system he finds himself in a labyrinthine world of neon blues and reds and greens. The playground is basically line art, reminiscent of offices in a tower building, where various kinds of red enemies represent the anti-hacker defence programs. The player is rewarded for working through this maze with an extra hard boss fight at the end of each little level because ‘only truly dangerous enemies are satisfying to defeat’. Normally I would agree 1000%, Edward. But the problem is that I don’t really care about you or your struggle so why should I be satisfied that you’ve taken one more step towards achieving your goals?
The game is pretty standard FPS in terms of controls; nothing too wild or noteworthy except that crouching does not make you invisible. If you crouch down behind a filing cabinet after being seen, the NPC won’t just shrug it off as a glitch in the Matrix. If you’re seen, you better get moving and behind a solid wall of some kind and pray the Generic Goon doesn’t investigate too closely because that health bar can go down pretty quickly. You don’t have the luxury of taking a few hits when you’ve got neon red Skeletor waiting at the end of the level. Another departure from traditional FPS is that there is no crosshair for your gun/baton so you hit what you point at. That’s nice, but it seems like this is just a bit of laziness instead of a deliberate creative choice.
I did like the soundtrack and it is one of the few good examples of creative choice in ROOT, but most games get at least this much right. It was a good soundtrack; it was the perfect techno-y beat that fits nicely into the setting and it was perfect to grind my teeth to. One thing I did enjoy was picking up the neon green potted plants and laptops and launching them at unsuspecting Generic Goons like they were baseballs and I was Walter Johnson. That was loads of fun, but I think it could be me getting my kicks where I could.
ROOT is one of those games that seems like it was made by a very passionate and energetic developer who was excited to get his project out there, but it never got refined. It had potential to be interesting and described itself as a “cyber espionage themed stealth FPS that lets you play how you want: whether creeping along corridors undetected or bursting into rooms to blow away all adversaries” and this is true enough. It is an FPS. It gives you the option of either shooting your enemies in the head or sneaking around them. As a bonus, when you take damage that damage can’t be recovered with a health pack and if you die, it’s back to the start of the level for you. It really makes you think about every action you take because if there is one thing I didn’t want it was to spend any more time on this game than I had to.
With a stronger plot and more unique gameplay and enemies, this might have been a refreshing addition to the genre, but now it is just an average run-of-the-mill FPS that is easily forgotten.
“Roll up your sleeves, pop your collar and brew a pot of coffee, because today you’re going to breath the networks of a mysterious and powerful corporation?” Yeah, right. More like “brew a pot of coffee and make it a strong one because today sadly isn’t your day.”
Edward Summerton. I really like that the guys name is Edward Summerton
Uninspired gameplay, Boring plot, Overall it’s just a Meh experience