It turns out that a field of grass isn't a very interesting place to hide.
Although Sir, You Are Being Hunted bills itself as a stealth game, in reality you will spend most of your time avoiding your robotic foes altogether as you trudge over empty hills in search of the macguffins you need to escape the islands.
This is no accident: interaction has been designed out of the game in several ways.
Foremost is the lack of any player motivation to approach the robots (save for those which guard each macguffin – more on that later). The best the game musters is its hunger system, which encourages scavenging the abandoned settlements where robots are more likely to patrol. Alas, early on in my game I shot and cooked two rabbits. This simple task, plus occasional visits to unguarded buildings, led to me finishing the game with enough rabbit in my trousers to feed a poorhouse.
The wide open terrain also works against interaction by giving the player too much information and too many choices. There is always
plenty of warning of approaching bots, and there is always
more than enough space to hide in until they pass. When the player is spotted, running and hiding in the open are both farces.
The game compounds all of this with a thinly-spread checkpoint save system, punishing experimentation and killing curiosity. Developers: please stop doing this.
With the player relegated to an observer it’s just as well that the bots are fun to watch. Pathfinding AI is robust, with sensible group dynamics, and the designs are imaginative and distinctive riffs on various aristocratic stereotypes.
Procedural island generation is also reliable. Yet despite each biome having one special feature (Castle and Industrial, added later in development, shine in this regard) they otherwise all merge into one brown lump. The slightly different items sprinkled on top aren’t enough to create anything memorable and it doesn’t help that they offer no apparent variation in robot behaviour, type or numbers.
Which brings me to the subject of pacing. Here it is in one sentence: the more macguffins you collect, the more robots there are. You will otherwise finish the game in the same way you started: avoiding bands of robots until you find a macguffin, then killing or distracting the two (always two!) low-level robots guarding it, then scurrying back to the nearest checkpoint while again avoiding all contact with anything.
The letters scattered about try to hang a wider narrative on these bones, but they are so rare that multiple play-throughs are required to join any dots together – and that is not a prospect I relish.
Julkaistu 4 toukokuu(ta) 2014.