: Electronic Arts Developer
: Trapdoor Inc. Genre
: Puzzle Players
: One Price
: 800MSP Launch Date
: 15th February 2012 Most XBLA releases have games which they are similar to, such as most tower defence titles, or online FPS titles. So when Warp came along, it brought with it a fresh idea which is rarely seen, especially in XBLA titles. As the name suggests, the premise of this game is to warp through different rooms, which serve as the puzzles. But is fresh ideas what the XBLA marketplace called for, or does it need more titles staying true to classic formulas? Game-Play - 8
The game begins with a cut-scene. It shows some scientists capture you, and is set up so that it shows you have been knocked out, as the next cut-scene flickers, as if your eyes were opening and closing. During your time knocked out, you hear the voice of another alien, wanting to also break free of the under water facility you find yourself in. Upon waking up, you discover you have been put inside a room which is being monitored, and that your warp device is missing. With no other choice, you have to follow the puzzles that the humans set up. This is your tutorial area, which teaches you the basics of moving around. Eventually, you reach the maze room, which half way around; you see your warp device. Being close to it causes it to break free and return to your body. This is where the fun really begins, as now you can warp past obstacles. The warp function doesn't let you warp too far, however it is handy to get through different rooms. With the device in hand, the escape begins. When you initially begin, you have limited abilities, but naturally, as you progress you unlock more and can upgrade them. A good example of this is the core function of warping. With no upgrades, when you warp you can still be heard due to footsteps as you reappear. With upgrades, these short jumps across the landscape become silent. Also warping lets you go through walls, into objects such as barrels and even let you warp into people, letting you kill them, decreasing the threat in each room. As you progress through the game, you find out that water is a weakness, turning your orange alien into a white one, unable to warp. This effect wears off after a few seconds of being on dry land; however the humans see this on the cameras and begin using it to their advantage.
Finding your first grub, wondering why the best collectables are edible
Along the way you learn about the games collectables. The first collectable you find is in the tutorial area, is a grub. Grubs serve two purposes, collectables and also currency to buy upgrades, which we shall cover later on. The other type of collectable is the film canisters, which you must warp into and then blow up. As previously mentioned, as you progress, your skills upgrade and you obtain other skills. One of the skills you get is called Echo, which sends an echo of yourself out. You can control this echo, which is basically a decoy, and send it in a radius of you. This becomes a handy feature as it can cause enemies to shoot each other, or more importantly, generators which you can't get to, which unlocks the way forward. Other skills that you can unlock include Swap, which lets you swap places with objects, which is handy when trying to bypass thicker doors and walls. Also featured is the ability to upgrade those core skills. Littered around the various maps are upgrade shops. You warp into them and it produces a window, featuring different upgrades. These include silent movement, collectable finders, making your warp silent and more. These help get around the area more stealthily. The game is ultimately a top down stealth puzzle game, and that is not a bad thing. The perspective that the game provides helps you see upcoming obstacles, enemies and this in turn lets you plot out how you will tackle the next room. You could take the dangerous route and try and go head to head with the enemies guns, resulting in death, or you could warp into a nearby barrel and get around by hopping barrel to barrel, or even person. The game has a friendly checkpoint system, which can be found a lot over the maps. They are in positions just before a more challenging puzzle and just after as well, this means that you won't have to do too much in one go without a checkpoint, which is good as even if you fail, you don't need to repeat so much. This is also handy because some parts of this game can be quite challenging and require multiple attempts before finally getting past where you are. Despite the toughness at times, Warp has a way of making you think okay, I'll try that one more time after each failed attempt. Warp also features challenges, which can be found as you play the game. This can then be played right there and then, or accessed via the main menu. There are two types of challenges. Race is where you must get from one side of the room to the other in the quickest time possible. Elimination requires you to clear all enemies from the room by killing them. These definitely live up to the title of challenges, as the gold times can be extremely hard to beat, and it would take numerous attempts and getting used to the maps to beat them. For example, to get a silver time on one of the maps, you must eliminate all targets within 27 seconds. Like in the main game itself, timing and skill are major factors to the challenge mode. Overall, with the collectables and the challenges, you will be looking at a game which will last 5-7 hours, or 1 hour 15 if you go for the achievement In a Rush.
So begins the escape. Graphics - 8
Given that Warp is set in an underwater facility, some factors required a lot of attention to make this stand out. Firstly, the facility itself is designed to look clean and expensive. That is until you begin to explode people, which leave big splatters of blood where the body of an enemy just was. As for the underwater aspect though, while you run around the facility you will notice that you can see outside. You can see the sea floor at times, it looks a little distorted but that is due to the water effect which works perfectly. At times you will see fish swimming around, and at one point you see a shark too. This feature, while simple in thought is just proof of the attention to detail that has been put in. As for the characters, your alien is a simple black stick like man, with an orange blob surrounding it. While simple looking, this also works extremely well as it fits into the environment they have created. Most of the humans use the same design, such as all the scientists having the same build, and the same for the enemies with guns. This is becoming the normal case in XBLA titles, but at the same time that doesn't make it a bad game. Sound - 7
Most of the sound is based around the humans talking, be it saying things such as where are you? to scared screams, these voices are common. There is a background noise however throughout the game, which can be described as an echo-like emptiness. Every now and then, the alien you control will make sounds, which do sound alien, making sense. At times you will set off alarms, which come up loud as to be expected. Another noise which you will find often is the little pop each time you warp. This is a fun noise although after a while that would become a minor annoyance if you find those types of things annoying. Explosions are also a common sound, be it from exploding an enemy to exploding a barrel, there's always something satisfying about explosions in any game. While more attention could've been given to provide further sounds, such as some backing track in the lab or something, what is there serves the game well. The challenge mode does offer some difference to the background noise, as it has a soft tempo beat while you race against time to earn gold.
Finding upgrades means going through puzzles, and staring at things in a confused fashion Achievements - 8
Warp features the standard 12 achievements worth 200G which most arcade titles have. Some of these will come by just completing objectives in the game, such as frag your first enemy, completing the game in different ways to get different endings. Completing the game within 1 hour 15 minutes, this will require a speed run after knowing the layout and where to go. Some however will require quite a bit of work, such as beating the challenges. One of the more annoying sounding achievements however, is to beat a friend's score in challenge mode, but they must already have a gold time. This would be tough as gold is hard to get without adding the extra challenge of beating a friend's score on it. On the other hand, it's also the definition of an achievement. Conclusion
All in all, Warp features the fresh idea that it promises, and that idea is implemented well. It's a step away from what the XBLA marketplace usually is graced by, and the team did a great job of making the game enjoyable. Its game-play can be addictive and tough at the same time, and even though the challenges feature tough times to beat, it also provides you that desire to keep pushing yourself to beat it.