fri 03/04/2020

Technobabylon | reviews, news & interviews

Technobabylon

Technobabylon

More cyber-punk noir from the best in the business

'Technobabylon': a playground of grimy city streets and the digital wonderland of the Trance

Welcome to Newton, 2087. In this dystopic cityscape of neon lights, seedy underbellies and scientific industry, the overwhelming influences of genetic engineering, CCTV, AI and techno-terrorists are running rampant over the lives of its troubled inhabitants. The only means of escape is in the Trance, a digital world of obsolete physics, where any computer programme can be made manifest and interacted with on a human level.

Welcome to Newton, 2087. In this dystopic cityscape of neon lights, seedy underbellies and scientific industry, the overwhelming influences of genetic engineering, CCTV, AI and techno-terrorists are running rampant over the lives of its troubled inhabitants. The only means of escape is in the Trance, a digital world of obsolete physics, where any computer programme can be made manifest and interacted with on a human level. It’s now the norm to have wetware implanted in your brain so that you can phase in and out of Trance whenever you like.

And it’s within this matrix that the first of our three point-and-click adventure game protagonists, Latha Sesame, is happiest. An unemployed "thraller" of unknown origins, "Mandala" is a ward of the state, happy in her digital Narnia and hiding from the outside world. Until, that is, the outside world comes to get her. Her only hope of survival rests in the equally troubled hands of doctors Lao and Regis, two top agents of the city’s CEL police force.tongue in cheek humour

Under the ever watchful eye of the CENTRAL computer AI, techno wiz-kid Lao and her surly old school partner Regis are on the case of a murderous "mind-jacker" who's been hacking (literally) into people’s wetware and leaving a trail of corpses across the globe. Now he’s in Newton, and as our investigation progresses we begin to realise that the lives of these characters are heading for a dramatic collision. That’s if their sordid pasts don’t catch up with them first.

Again and again Wadget Eye games impress me, and they’ve really knocked it out of the ballpark with this one. Technobabylon is one of the largest, longest, most detailed games they have ever produced, and massive kudos to developers Technocrat for finally getting the episodes together and polished up into a point/click that’s well worth the price-tag.

I can’t decide if I’m glad or disappointed that the puzzles are slightly less frustrating than usual. I certainly didn’t get to the point where I wanted to tear my hair out looking for some minuscule item hidden amidst the plethora of pixels, which is something I’ve come to expect from all point/clicks.

I also couldn’t decide if I minded the fact that this game is more like interactive cinema than game, with extensive and detailed dialogue sequences which make the puzzles feel like more of an afterthought than a priority. But damn it the story is good, and the characterisation is masterful thanks to the high-quality writing and voice-acting. These characters are wholly rounded personalities not just empty pixel pac-men to move around the game like chess pieces.

the digital wonderland of the TranceThe ability to flit in and out of Trance is also a stroke of genius, as you’re able to mash up various computer programmes to hilarious effect. Combine an overzealous chef programme with a kinky French maid and a malware virus, and watch the chaos unfold.

This is also a game which recognises the limitations of its chosen building materials, and uses them to create moments of great tongue-in-cheek humour – the gun fights are plain hilarious. One nit-pick I have is with the right-click look, left-click interact mechanism. I just felt like I was dilly-dallying a lot when a simple one click-look, second click-interact would have sped things up a fraction.

The ambient synth music of Nathan Allen Pinard is a perfect complement to the future-noir atmosphere of the world, and the art design is gloriously cyberpunk. Moments of cinematic finesse spin this impressive 2D world into an epic 3D, and if all that wasn’t enough for you, there’s a moment with a rocket-pack which is possibly the best thing I’ve ever seen ever. Play the game. You’ll know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t clap your hands with joy then you’re a robot. Technocrat, I salute you.

Helen K Parker on Twitter

There’s a moment with a rocket-pack which is possibly the best thing I've ever seen ever

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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