Clive Barker's Jericho was on sale on Steam for just a couple dollars... And I thoroughly enjoyed Clive Barker's Undying... And it's been a little while since I played a shooter... So I figured I'd pick it up.
Wow. Even though I only paid a couple dollars for it, I'm regretting my purchase.
The game was obviously built with an Xbox controller in mind. There are controls for a mouse and keyboard, but they seem like an afterthought. The GUI is more like something I'd expect to see on a console game. Playing with the main menu is vaguely awkward with a mouse. It's actually easier to navigate using only the keyboard.
The graphics look decent... And the plot sounds interesting... So I start up a new game...
I watch the opening cinematic-type stuff... Get to control my character a bit as we approach the city... There's a loading screen... Then we're inside... And there's some kind of mini-earthquake... I fall down a chasm. I have to press directional keys to climb out. But they don't work right.
A quick look on-line reveals that there's a very well known bug with re-mapping your controls.
I normally use ESDF for my movement keys in an FPS. It lets me rest my hand naturally on the home row, and I've got plenty of keys around those movement keys.
Jericho defaults to WASD, and doesn't want to use anything else during those interactive sudden-death moments. So, if I want to climb out of the chasm, I need to switch to WASD. Not impressed.
Then the game starts in earnest... Some monsters show up for me to shoot. The mechanics seem fairly solid... And I've got a whole squad to back me up. Kind of a frenetic firefight. Kind of fun. Maybe I can get into this.
The game continues. A few people get killed or knocked-out or whatever. And you can actually heal them back up, which is cool. And if you get knocked down, you can get healed back up as well. Very cool. Nice and forgiving. Which is good, because I'm doing a lot of dying.
So, the game progresses... There's some nice occult stuff going on... Like a big ol' doorway that's sealed up with blood magick... And there's some weird sci-fi stuff going on... Some kind of temporal data recovery or something...
But the gameplay itself is getting kind of repetitive.
We'll walk along some corridor - and they're all corridors. Even outside, it might as well be a corridor. It's all very linear. Not just in storyline progress, but in the actual path you take. There's pretty much just one way to go.
So we'll walk along come corridor... And some monsters will pop out... And we'll shoot them... And they'll all die eventually... And then we'll walk up to the next shootout...
It kind of reminds me of some kind of rail shooter. You know, like Time Crisis or House of the Dead. You go from one scene to the next, shooting guys who pop out at you. And when you're out of guys to shoot, you move on to the next scene. That's how this feels. I'm just moving from one entrenched shootout to the next.
There's no health kits to pick up... You're just basically healthy enough to keep going, until you get yourself killed, and then somebody will heal you back up.
There's no ammo to pick up... One of the team members periodically rewinds time in your gun so that you get all your bullets back.
There's no different weapons to pick up either... You've just got the weapon you start out with, maybe with a couple different firing modes, and a melee attack.
I've only been playing for about half an hour, and I'm bored. It's very repetitive.
Walk a little way... Take cover and shoot it out with the enemy... Walk a bit more... Shoot it out some more.
Every shootout so far is entrenched. There's no real mobility. You're stuck in a narrow little corridor with the enemy coming at you head-on. There's really no point in running, ducking, weaving, etc. You just stand there and shoot at them.
And you've got a whole team backing you up. Which is good, because there's a lot of monsters coming... And a lot of them take a lot of shooting to kill... But it feels like I'm kind of un-necessary. It's not just a lack of "one man vs. the entire enemy army"... But I could probably just sit down and have a coffee and let my squad do all the work for me.
And did I mention that some of these monsters take a lot of shooting to kill? They do. Multiple clips worth of bullets, while multiple team members shoot at them. Round after round after round. It feels like I'm trying to chop down a tree with a butter knife.
The end result just is not compelling.
It may get much, much better from here. There may be all sorts of interesting stuff to look forward to. But I'll probably never see it. The game just isn't compelling enough for me to be forced to use WASD... To repeatedly sit through these entrenched shootouts... To put up with the weird sudden-death events...
I don't feel the need to keep playing. I don't feel the need to find out what happens next. I'm not that interested in the storyline, or the characters, or whatever. And the gameplay certainly isn't solid enough to keep me coming back for more.