Monday, December 19, 2011

Colonies: NeoCiv (XBLIG): "A Beautifully Rendered 3D Science Fiction Indie"

I had the opportunity earlier this year to review one of 'Guy Galer/Twist-ed Games' XBLIG titles "Bureau Agent Kendall". If I remember correctly Guy Galer was one of the first indie developers I contacted for review purposes. He was a pleasant guy who was willing to give me a shot at reviewing his visually, and mechanically impressive game. At that time I had found the trailer to "Bureau Agent Kendall" on Youtube, and was truly impressed at how amazing the graphics appeared. I knew at that time that Guy Galer was a very experienced developer who knew how to deliver quality games even if they were just indie titles. Recently during my search for new XBLIG titles to review I stumbled upon Guy Galer's latest creation, "Colonies: NeoCiv". I immediately went to Youtube in search for some gameplay footage, and after watching some I knew I had to get this game for review.

Colonies: NeoCiv is a science fiction tale that is told by beautifully rendered 3D cutscenes, and interactive gameplay. The intro to the game's story comes in the form of a lengthy cutscene that would put a lot of games to shame. The plot involves the change of lifestyle for Earth's colony though scientific means. With technology they go from a self-enslaved state to a more relaxed form of living. When Nessa, and Niles find out the truth behind a cover-up that's going on things begin to unravel rather quickly. Nessa, the main (female) character in the story along with Niles are summoned for a secret meeting that ends up in disaster, and puts Nessa in a fight for self preservation. She encounters a shady character, armed military guards, and a robot as she tries to piece together the puzzling situation that she finds herself in. She must use investigative skills as well as her combat training to outmaneuver, and kill the guards that are placed throughout the military complex she has ended up at.

Gameplay in "Colonies: NeoCiv" has a fairly steep learning curve. It is definitely wise to pay attention to the messages, items and information that you receive as you make your way through the military complex. The game is basically made up of 'point & click' game mechanics, and 'hide & shoot' combat. As the gamer you take on the role of Nessa who seems to be some sort of undercover agent for the creator behind NEOCIV. You can control Nessa's movement, and aiming during combat with the (R.Thumbstick & L.Thumbstick). During the clue/information searching sequences in the game you only control a cursor/crosshair as Nessa stands stationary, or absent from view. Your weapon in the game is a blaster. The blaster runs on Adam batteries that deplete with use, but also refill when not in use. Combat sequences in the game requires you to hide Nessa behind objects such as glass walls, or crates and the use her blaster when you have your crosshairs lined up with the target. Learning when to take cover, or when to shoot is necessary for making it past the combat situations.

The puzzle solving in "Colonies: NeoCiv" requires 'point & click' interactions with characters, and objects located throughout the military facility. You can find objects lying around by searching them, or even by searching the dead bodies of guards. Info/Data that you collect can be used to unlock secret files via a mini-game sequence when you collect enough of a specific file type. Sometimes gathering the information, or items required to progress to the next save point must be done in a specific order. If you die from a guard attack in the process of trying to make it to the next save point you will be given the choice to restart from the latest save point you have made it to. Certain items will need to be gathered again if this happens. The start menu in the game can be used to access messages that you have received from other characters as well as data, and videos you have collected during your playthrough. The gameplay is very involved, but information on how to do everything within the game is explained well as you make progress. In the end I found that this game is the first part of what seems to be a possible ongoing series, and it ends with a "To Be Continued ..." message.

In conclusion I found this game to be highly impressive. The visual rendering in "Colonies: NeoCiv" is some of the best I have seen in an indie game, and they run without lag or glitches. The cutscenes are truly a sight to behold, and even the scene transitions feature mini-cutscenes that accent the overall game very nicely. Gameplay is presented in a fluid manner, and  in a very user friendly way. The combination of exploration, info/item gathering, and combat mechanics fit together in a seamless way that allows the gamer to enjoy the experience without being overloaded with too much that they need to know. I found that the game has a very mature tone to it that is played out through Nessa's sexy outfit, her interactions, a semi-nude shower scene, and blood details. It is a good idea to keep this in mind if you plan on getting this game for a younger kid. The only thing I didn't like (but understood) was the fact that the game had an open ending. I seriously hope that the developer continues the game series, because I found the story to be very interesting. I would definitely love to see a sequel to it. This is one of the more higher priced XBLIG titles, but I think it's worth it. If you haven't already got it, you should.

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