Had a chance to play 3 first person adventure titles, all with different “adventuring” approach. Two of which dealt with questions of AI and morality and I wanted to end there, but then I also played Valley and couldn’t bring myself to play more of The Solus Project, due to all the “survival” elements in it, which I tend to not like. So, 3 is a pretty good number.
The Turing Test is a decent first person puzzle game in a world with many first person puzzle games better than it. And I can only commend the team for pushing forward and making the game despite most likely constantly knowing that they will never match Portal, The Talos Principle, Antichamber or even original Q.U.B.E. and Quantum Conundrum with their rather simple approach to first person puzzling – there are orbs, they turn things on, there are few kinds of it, everything is based around that. Where even very mediocre first person puzzle games like Magrunner have at least some creativity to its puzzles, The Turing Test might surprise you only a few times. Good news is that it never fails and makes an outright bad puzzle either. Although, it is strange how optional puzzles sometimes get very creative with ideas that never ever appear in the main puzzles.
The strongest point of the game, however, is the story and concepts it’s centered around. It’s pretty hard to make a first person puzzle game with a story that fits and isn’t bad (Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut is a good example of ruining the original no-story game with bad storytelling) and I was impressed with what The Turing Test had to say on the topic of AI and moral dilemmas, without ever giving you any clear opinion of its own and leaving you to answer the questions for yourself. As such, it’s a solid title, with good story and voice acting and just a very “good” gameplay. It’s a bit of a shame that there are many games that might scratch your itch for first person puzzling much better.
Event is a rather peculiar attempt at making a first person adventure game in modern age rooted in the text adventures of old in its key mechanic. It’s a, somewhat, of a sci-fi detective story where you find yourself on-board a spaceship thought long lost, with no crew around and only the ship’s AI around, with whom you can chat via terminals to try and figure out what happened. It’s also all set in an alternate reality where the space race ended not in the slow loss of financing of space exploration, how it happened in real life, but instead in unification of Earth, dedicated to explore space even more, which is why there’s a lot of intentional retro-futuristic elements to things. And that’s also probably how the developers tried to hide the not particularly good chatting with AI experience.
While I loved the idea and it’s impressive how many little things were actually thought of for these constant little chats you and the AI have, a lot of them feel less like conversations (they clearly intended to be, since this is supposed to be a proper AI, not a bot storywise), and more like the oldschool text adventure “figure out the correct verbs and nouns” experiences. Game does try to make AI outright ignoring what you type or just telling you something unrelated to what you were writing about seem like it’s intended for a corrupted and stubborn AI, but more often than no it just doesn’t work. Which isn’t exactly helped by the fact, that the entire adventure is quite short and story is far simpler and more predictable than one would wish it was. Not to say it wasn’t worth the experience, but this is more of a “early attempt at an idea that can become amazing in the future” game, than something that is already amazing.
Valley is a first person fast paced platforming adventure that gets some things very right and a lot wrong. On one hand, it’s a game that has a lot of fast and incredibly fun movement. It also has quite large areas which can be explored using this movement. As such, a lot of the time you’re keeping the momentum going from one interesting place to another, getting some gradual upgrades to your movement option and able to always return to the completed levels. And it also has some very basic action moments, based around the concept of life/death manipulation mechanics that never really go anywhere and might as well just be considered “ammo/life”.
And the big problem, that not only this, but nothing ever really goes anywhere. The story is of bland, with a very primitive environmentalist motive that tries to be written into mechanics, but it never feels right. Movement itself, while fun, can be a pain due to character suddenly loosing momentum inexplicably or easily ploishing through the walls. A lot of the levels are boring to look at. And levels are big just for the sake of it, never really feeling thought out. It’s a fun ride if you just run through the game, giving you a few hours of really exciting high-speed running and jumping not a lot of games can give (it was reminding me of Tribes at times, in the best ways). But if you ever stop to think you see just how primitive everything is and start doubting you want to continue.