by Kiran Sury
reviewed on PS3
Aliens make the worst houseguests. You lock them up in a nice, cozy secret experimental facility. You feed them. You keep them safe. Maybe you torture them a little bit. But what thanks do you get? They break out, disregarding human life in their selfish quest for freedom.
Warp puts you in the squishy orange body of Zero, a crash-landed alien turned test subject. Gameplay is limited to one mechanic: Zero can teleport, and that’s about it. Developer Trapdoor, however, has managed to stretch this concept in a variety of ways, resulting in a puzzler that manages to stay innovative for most of its length.
Zero encounters many obstacles on his path to freedom. Automated turrets, lasers, trip mines and shielded guards all attempt to end his trip prematurely, and as every attack is an instant-kill, there is no room for error. Zero is not defenseless, though. His teleporting ability lets him Warp into objects and explode them from within. This includes humans; rooms often end up splattered with blood, limbs strewn about as helpless scientists huddle in fear. The M rating is deserved, but the violence seems out of place – the game is a cutesy puzzler until the bodies hit the floor.
As he makes his way through the underwater facility, Zero absorbs the remnants of other alien captives and gains new powers based off his original Warping ability. In the beginning he can only move short distances, but eventually he learns to astro project to lure guards to vulnerable positions and telekinesis to throw objects around with great force. The new moves complement his Warp function well; sections will often have multiple solutions, allowing you to use whatever you are comfortable with.
Despite this variety, the gameplay starts to wear thin towards the end of the roughly six-hour game. Puzzles are often iterations of each other; once you have teleported into a barrel, used it to cross a laser grid, then exploded a guard, you have pretty much seen what the game has to offer. That isn’t to say the game is monotonous, but the stealth-puzzle nature of the gameplay dictates certain repeated solutions. An unbalanced checkpoint system makes certain sections easier, but adds to the frustration when you have to repeat a tiresome sequence of teleportations.
The little orange alien that could
Though the game has cartoony (albeit mundane) graphics, it maintains a somber tone, rather than the humorous Portal-esque vibe it practically begs for. There is barely any plot to speak of, dialogue is limited, and the background music is similarly drab. Admittedly this lets you focus on the puzzling, but a more tongue-in-cheek approach would definitely have livened things up for a more entertaining experience.
Warp is by no means a bad game. Puzzle fans will definitely appreciate the possibilities Trapdoor has managed to present while sticking to such a basic idea. But there is little incentive to replay the game unless you are a completionist, and the trial-and-error nature of puzzle games may turn off the more action-oriented crowd. Zero’s adventure is by all means worth a play through, but when this ET phones home, he calls collect.
There are a lot more things you can do with teleportation than you would think.
The game lacks pizazz. It starts to feel repetitive towards the end.