Vincent, I need your badge and your gun.
I’ve always been interested in point-and-click adventures, and of the few that I’ve played, I’ve loved my time with them, especially those that have a deep story and characters to love. Warp Frontier is a self-proclaimed science fiction cop-drama set in the distant future and revolving around Cetus, the new home of humanity outside of our current solar system. In this nearly 8-hour game, you play Vincent Cassini, a police captain who is drawn into a conspiracy that aims to erase war crimes from history that have affected him and his loved ones. As Vincent, you will be joined by MAC, your Android pending buddy, and your job is to solve puzzles, manage relationships and ultimately prevent the above crimes from being erased forever.
War Frontier was developed by independent Australian developers Brawsome, who specialize in “accessible non-action games” and point-and-click adventure games. This is their first game that will appear on a home console and not just on PC / mobile.
In terms of gameplay, Warp Frontier follows the same formula as all other point-and-click adventure genres. However, there are a few tweaks this game has made to make certain aspects faster or easier. Two notable features that I liked were that instead of moving the cursor down to the dialog options, you could simply use the D-pad on your controller and choose the direction that appears next to the option you choose want. This is especially useful if you accidentally start a conversation that you either have already had or have already received the required answer. You can just press the right direction on the D-pad to cancel the chat with an “Okay then” or something similar. Another helpful feature is that instead of maneuvering all the way to the bottom of the screen to access Vincent’s inventory tray, you can simply press the L and R keys to select an item to use to save time. Both of these functions are particularly useful as I found the cursor speed to be a bit slow and since there is no option to increase it in the settings, stick to that set speed.
One option that’s in Settings that I didn’t think would be that convenient is the Developer Comments section. When you enable this, a certain number of dialog boxes will appear in the corner of the screen where Brawsome founder Andrew Goulding begins to talk about the area of the game you are in. Here you can get a glimpse of the inspiration area of the game or its creative process at this point. After the main dialog or the action. Had occurred on one scene, I selected that one and listened a little as Warp Frontier was done. Unfortunately, I can only praise the game for that.
While the gameplay itself is fine with no real issues, the game itself isn’t. The story is interesting enough, but it’s incredibly hard to invest in the narrative, or even take care of Vincent, due to the stop / start nature of Warp Frontier. And unfortunately the stops are way too long. For example, there are too many unnecessarily complicated or tedious puzzles that prevent the story from continuing. Some of these felt impossible and were only solvable by randomly selecting items in my inventory or just by sheer luck, and when I got past a few I had to remember what was happening in the first place. While they do have a hint box available, I found this was of no help at all. Nine times out of ten it just repeated something you already knew without a “hint” of where or how to do it, which is very frustrating for a gamer.
In some settings there are also a lot of interactive elements that you actually cannot do anything with. These elements can be distracting and add to the time it takes to solve puzzles when there is a chance that one of those non-interactable interactive elements could help or trigger something useful. As an example of this, there are at least 15 “Points of Interest” in the opening setting like a pile of clothes in the corner, Vincent’s bed, a closet, etc. and of all of these, only about 3 do a little more than offer a single line that says, what it is or what Vincent does with it. However, it is important to point out that all of the dialogues are voice controlled and very well done.
It’s worth quickly highlighting the art style used for the backgrounds and settings throughout the game. I found these to be very well designed and look good in high definition. However, the same doesn’t apply to the character models, who looked bad and moved even worse (just excruciatingly slow). While there is an option to speed up movements, it was inconsistent and further underscored the sub-par design of these character models.
While I can’t entirely fault the story in Warp Frontier or the voice acting performances, the frustrating puzzles and inferior feel the game offers made it hard to get into the narrative at all. Solving puzzles almost at random to move forward has really resulted in a negative experience that I don’t want to return to for many.