Quick – teleport around the corner and disrupt the turret, and then teleport inside the guard and blow him up. Oh wait; you’re just a human. I’ll guess I’ll just call upon Zero, the protagonist of Warp, and have him do it instead. Warp is the new game from Trapdoor, and it’s one that falls into multiple categories, but does so in a way that it is a seamless blend of pretty much what I’d call awesome.
Warp is a combination of a puzzle, stealth, and action game (you’ve got to run around some!) that has players in the role of Zero — an alien, but beyond that, your guess is as good as mine as to what kind of alien. He is very unique as he has a mouth on top of his head, no real “hands” to speak of, and oh yea, he can teleport. The game starts out with Zero being captured by armed guards and dragged into some type of tunnel, which is shown to you through a first person cinematic. He wakes up every so often to see scientists operating on him, eventually watching them pull a cog-type item from Zero’s body. That cog happens to be very important to Zero – it’s the key to his powers and the tutorial is spent getting it back. From there though, the game is simply, “get the hell out of Dodge.”
Gameplay for this title features a near top-down isometric view, where players will be looking down onto Zero from above and navigating him throughout the various rooms and puzzles while dodging humans trying to kill him. This view is very useful though: Zero’s teleportation abilities are kind of like Nightcrawler’s in a way – players need to be able to see the next room over for Zero to warp cleanly into it. The same goes with objects and other things. The game’s focus of “escape the facility” requires players to use Zero’s teleporting ability (and other powers) to sneak around behind guards’ and turrets’ backs, attack them, or even break through into the next section of the facility. In a way its picture classic Metal Gear action, but if you get shot once you die, therefore stealth is a bit more important.
Zero’s titular warping ability is useful for a variety of reasons that fall into both defensive and offensive. He can warp himself into objects to hide or disrupt them for a short period of time – its very useful and important to do this is in order to hide from turrets or even disable them. Zero can also warp into humans and human bodies, which by itself does nothing but cause them disorientation for a short period as well. Here’s where it gets a bit more fun though – Zero can also cause objects he teleports inside of to explode.
Simply wiggling the thumb sticks causes Zero to move around within an object. This causes pressure to build higher and higher until it explodes. On canisters and other non-organic items, it’s no big deal except to open a new passage or cause a distraction. With human targets however – there is a SHOWER of blood, guts, and body parts around the map. It’s understandable where the M rating for the game comes from based on this, but it’s still fun to watch.
Zero has other abilities and powers that can be gained later on with upgrades and other story driven events as well. The facility Zero is attempting to escape from houses other aliens, all of which are special in their own ways; Zero simply just takes their special attributes and adds them to his own. These abilities include a hologram, nicknamed Echo, that will draw guard’s attention, launching objects violently, and swap, which lets Zero swap objects places with himself or others. There are other powers that can be upgraded with grubs that are collected throughout levels, though these upgrades are minor in comparison to the others. They can still play a pivotal role however…
Playing through the game will also unlock challenge rooms for the challenge mode. Every so often players will find bizarre, orb-like objects that can be warped into that will bring them into an alternate universe of sorts. These “rooms” are disconnected from the storyline, but by completing the challenge within will grant bonuses to grub collection. The challenges offer some actual challenge – players are guaranteed a bronze just for completing the challenge, but getting the silver/gold ratings requires some thought, patience, and retrying. They’re worth it though – the bonuses you get for grub collection speed up unlocking some useful upgrades.
Graphically the game is pretty well done if I do say so myself. Which I am, so deal with it. It’s a cartoonish approach and while every human looks the same, the game is colorful and the effects are fun to watch – especially blowing humans up. Zero might not be the most detailed alien we’ve seen this century, but he’s still well animated. Also the background of the deep depths of the ocean surrounding the facility are teeming with life – a very nice addition that often drew my eye during gameplay.
I wasn’t expecting this game to have the kind of draw it did for me. I do love Metal Gear and while there are some similar gameplay elements, this game was a definite surprise and is most certainly one of the better downloadable titles of the year so far. I highly recommend people give it a shot – the puzzles are fun and the gameplay is just hilarious at times. And c’mon – who doesn’t want to just cause people to explode?Note: Warp was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.