Somerville is one of the coolest video games I’ve played in years. It’s also one of the most frustrating.
Something of a spiritual successor to the 2D classics Limbo and Inside (both developed by Playdead, whose co-founder worked on them), Somerville sees you play as a man who, faced with a cataclysmic disaster, must rush to the first save his donkey, then be reunited with his wife and son.
Like those two games, there’s a haunting simplicity to Somerville. There isn’t a single word of dialogue in any of this, and while there are brief moments of action, most of your time with the game is spent roaming around, performing platforming tasks. basics and solving light puzzles.
Again, like those two games, there’s a reason for that: the slow pace and lack of distraction allows the world of Somerville to overwhelm you, its silence and restraint leaving plenty of room for each scene to tell a story. story and that each gesture has a meaning.
Unlike those two games, however, Somerville is painful to play, with bugs, a lack of polish, and a few curious design decisions combining to undermine much of the fun found in simply soaking up its wonderful art design.
Much of this is down to Somerville’s decision to leave 2D behind for a 3D adventure. It used to be that these kinds of games worked so well because perspective constantly guided you forward, their linear nature allowing you to control the pace of your adventure and the boundaries of the world made clear and obvious.
In Somerville, the world is rather 3D, almost isometric in places. I found that, given wider spaces to explore, I often explored them, sometimes intentionally and more often not, constantly hitting dead ends or heading down paths that seemed like they should be the way to go, but that were not. Which sounds like a minor complaint, but it’s a big deal in a game of this type (and lasting about 4-5 hours), because there’s absolutely nothing to do if you don’t. not going in the right direction. There are no NPCs to chat with and there is nothing to collect. Every second spent wandering around a screen, instead of following the path the designer intended, saps Somerville’s rhythm of its power.
Add in a number of frustrating instadeath storylines – where, again, every new attempt drains the short, tight story from its punch – and a number of glitches and bugs throughout, and at the end. from Somerville, I found myself wishing it had just been an animated film instead of a game.
Somerville Release Trailer
Which may seem damning, but it’s also a backhanded compliment, because despite all my issues with Somerville, I still spent a lot of time with it. The world and its history are the priorities here, not your minute-to-minute actions. Its sci-fi designs are fantastic, its world-building totally immersive, and its cinematography, while at times infuriating for gameplay reasons, is never more than breathtaking to behold.
Somerville’s intro is particularly memorable. I’ve seen many people compare it to Spielberg’s War of the Worlds opener, and with good reason; it’s real heart-to-mouth, generating an incredible amount of tension and suspense for what is essentially a ‘walk around all the time’ adventure game.
I’d even go so far as to recommend a second playthrough, because not only does your muscle memory help tighten the game’s pace by moving through its stages faster, but you can also piece together Somerville’s story a bit more, which of course goes places in the second half. You might even want to revisit some key decisions towards the end, as the game has three different endings depending on certain decisions you make.
Article source https://kotaku.com/somerville-jumpship-playdead-limbo-inside-review-1849783516