Halfway is a pretty looking sci-fi turn-based strategy RPG, otherwise known as an instant purchase for me. The game looks, runs, and sounds great, with its pixel style retro look and low key, mood setting sci-fi soundtrack. Without even playing, I could tell this would be something I would enjoy on principle alone, but then I played it.
The game flow is par the course for the genre. You move, they move until one side is dead. However, in Halfway, the mechanics are the first stumble. People who've played in the genre can guess the nuances: there's cover bonuses for you and the enemy, certain weapon types perform better up close or far away, and each squad member even has unique statistics and abilities. Some can cover more ground, others can take more hits. Very quickly, however, I realized that while all the pieces and formulas for a great game are there, Halfway seems to have skewed the numbers diastrously. Spot an enemy out of cover down a hall, well within your weapon's given effective range? Expect a base 25-30% chance to hit: that's all. You can, fortunately, give up your squaddie's move for that turn in exchange for increased accuracy, but wait, it merely climbs to 50-55%, if that. Expect several turns where neither side will land a hit. Then you need to spend AP to reload, which makes firing without that accuracy bonus pointless. Oh, and now the enemy's shields are back up. Whoops, now you're out of ammo. Yes, in a game where you're at the mercy of 10-50% chances to hit, you are stuck with limited ammunition. In one mission, I spent fifteen minutes chasing two enemy units around a circular room. They couldn't hit me, but I had run out of ammo from missing my own attacks as well, so I had to resort to punching them to death.
Well, perhaps my two scrubs would grow up to be gunslinging badasses. I was wrong. I pushed on, and soon my squad jumped up to five. While they all had various, interesting specializations, the game was still taking far longer than it needed too, and not just for the mechanical failings stated above. Halfway is also lacking in several minor mechanics that, when paired with its skewed mechanics, it all build up to an annoyance I can't deal with. No auto-ending turns, no auto-switching after a squaddie uses up his turn, no access to options unless you're at the title screen, very little explanation for the statistics.
Halfway would be a spectacular addition to the genre. It almost seems silly to not recommend it solely because hit chances are too low, but while playing, this creates such a maddening environment that I cannot stomach playing for more than a mission at a time. Guns are useless, and cover and tactics doesn't matter when you're chasing mutants up and down hallways to beat them to death. Playing like that shatters the mood of the game and the point of the genre, and as far as I'm concerned, that is inexcuseable.