February 21, 2012

Review – Warp

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 9:08 am

Review Warp
Science becomes a lot more interesting when people explode.

While the academic world has yet to reach that same conclusion, developer Trapdoor has embraced the idea with their Xbox LIVE Arcade release, Warp, employing a play mechanic that isn’t long for grabbing attention as the screen fills with meaty chunks and flailing limbs.

Featuring an abduction story that sympathizes with the alien’s point of view, an adorable extraterrestrial crashes on Earth and is quickly taken to an underwater government facility for painful probing and testing. The player’s first steps involve a series of tests conducted by curious scientists, but it isn’t long before contact with a strange glowing orb grants the plucky alien teleporting powers, offering the opportunity to study anatomy off walls freshly covered with human organs while making an escape.

Review Warp
Warp’s primary play mechanic places a dot of light ahead of whichever direction players happen to point the nameless alien, and the press of a button teleports it to the spot marked. Players can also teleport inside of certain objects, which mostly consists of various canisters but also includes the scientists and soldiers occupying the facility.

Once inside an object or person, rotating the left thumbstick will cause an expansion that quickly creates a delightful explosion. Leaping out of a person before the explosion occurs will often cause people to simply pass out and spare players the gushy aftermath, but such sympathies would rob players of the guilty fun the game encourages them to revel in.

Exploding people does get repetitive, and eventually I began sparing those that didn’t present direct opposition. But the game seeks to encourage bloodlust by showing stats from friends on Xbox LIVE, which might tempt some into trying to claim the record.

The teleporting problem solving certainly reminds me of Portal’s Aperture Science Lab, but Warp manages to employ a retro science-fiction aesthetic, and that cartoonish bent helps make it safe to laugh like a lunatic while exploding the first dozen people that happen to cross your path. After this subsides, the stealthy puzzle challenges find continually clever means to put that warping ability to more productive use in the escape attempt.

Review Warp
The road to freedom is filled with rooms of working scientists and armed guards searching for the escapee. Our hero can warp into most rooms with a top down perspective lending insight into what may be waiting, aiding players in hiding from scientists who will summon guards and deadly turrets. Whether passing through rooms unnoticed, or taking out all opposition, it’s advisable to look before you leap. Many rooms are connected by a central point of interest, such as a generator supplying power to a locked door that must be destroyed – though the game will turn this on its ear later by requiring players to supply power to certain areas as well.

You’ll initially find areas beyond the reach of your warping abilities, but gain extra powers while progressing through the facility in a largely linear fashion. You’ll be able to create an echo of yourself, which can be used to cause soldiers to shoot targets and each other while trying to hit you. Eventually that echo will be able to swap your location with another person or object, perfect for leaving a soldier beyond a locked door as you move forward. And you’ll also gain the ability to propel objects the alien can teleport inside of, which helps in striking distant targets and shielded guards.

Gaining all these powers opens the way for multiple solutions to opposition, lending a sense that one can break the rules by being free to explore alternatives to most scenarios. Security will heighten as players progress, requiring creativity as soldiers begin using energy shields that protect them from teleport attacks, as well as energy screens that create obstacle courses and traps. Puddles of water also pose a hazard, temporally suppressing the alien’s abilities – though that doesn’t become a majorly recurring problem. Being unable to explode shielded enemies makes it necessary to hurl projectiles at them or avoid them altogether, creating tighter spaces while leaping back and forth between rooms.

Review Warp
The facility offers repetitive scenery, with laboratories only occasionally broken up by industrial areas where cranes and lasers offer new challenges. The gleaming white walls of scientific research will quickly become covered in blood of course, and the game directs players rather well – I only needed to check the map twice for guidance.

Eventually gaining all the powers will give you run of the joint, but also paint a clear target toward the exit, which makes it easy enough to finish the game over the course of a day. There’s not a lot of reason to explore, but players will want to hunt down delicious grubs, which can be used to augment alien abilities – players can use these to silence their movements for greater stealth, cause their echo to make a small explosion, or speed up their movement, among other options. The only other target of interest is film canisters, which can be destroyed to setback government research.

A few boss encounters pop up along the way, managing to work with the established mechanics rather well considering the one-hit-one-kill policy of this stealth title. A constant checkpoint system will save you from ever falling too far back should you die, but the boss encounters will want you to watch the cinematic that sets them up each time you replay – holding down the B button to skip them saves sanity.

Review Warp
Warp mixes the array of guards and security traps with evolving abilities well enough to stave off exhaustion, though the relatively short length of the title helps too. Finding the trick to proceed is never overly difficult, though there were a few turret puzzles where I simply crossed my fingers and warped like hell across the screen to spare myself some occasional frustration.

When the primary ride is over, Warp also offers a handful of challenge rooms to test your ability to speedily warp across an area as well as dispatch armed guards. Despite the short length, the game gets as much mileage as it can out of its warping mechanic. While Warp is sometimes rough around the edges, the curious grunts and squeals of its protagonist offers quite a bit of charm, and the play mechanics inspire a fair amount of experimentation with a stealth title that manages to encourage fun rather than exhausting patience.


EA Partners

Xbox 360 (Xbox LIVE Arcade)


Release Date
February 15, 2012 (PlayStation 3 & PC March 13th, 2012)

800 Microsoft Points

*A copy of this title was purchased by Gamesugar for review

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