The Void review
Two parts to this review. I'll let you figure out which is which.
62 hours to finish this game via the most difficult route, although I didn't chose the most difficult route because it was the most difficult route. Nevertheless, I am one stubborn son of a ♥♥♥♥♥ even though I really, really wanted to quit the game as it felt terribly hopeless.
Sixty two hours of terror, wonder, and painfully frustrating gameplay. I couldn't even believe I made it. Yet, it's not 62 hours of game content, but 62 hours of scraping to get through and repeating the same sections over and over and readjusting for the thousandth time your strategy and inventory and if you make a mistake down the line, you might have to restart from HOURS back.
I saved my game 302 times. I must have reloaded my game AT LEAST triple that many times. In this game there is zero margin of error. Literally, very, very literally every second counts.
You literally have no time to breathe when you are not inside a chamber. The time management system is extremely flawed and frustrating. From the very second you load your game, you cannot waste a single solitary second doing anything except proceeding in exactly in the most efficient direction and having the most efficient inventory setup while spending any second in the void unpaused.
The pause system is incredibly frustrating as well. You're not just fighting the game. You're fighting the game design. I could think of many ways the system could be improved. Such as letting you see the contents of chambers without having to unpause. Allowing you to pause without having to hold down the color palette. Auto pausing on every move between chambers. Letting you view your Lympha, Heart, and Nerva levels, or give some indication of the situation without having to go to the body screen as time only moves in the void map screen. Seeing as so much of the game happens in real time, letting you view the levels you need to keep an eye constantly should be a given. Also, considering how devastating any bad move or decision can be it is absolutely madness that don't give you better ways to keep track of the situations.
The description of this game doesn't do it justice. The depth, thought, and calculation required by the player is on the level with some very demanding and serious puzzle and strategy games, even if the design is not. The most demanding aspect of this game is the logistics and that's where most of the problems occur.
Also, this game won't let you save in chambers and it seems it would be tremendously time saving and advantageous and less frustrating, repetitive and terrible to just have the game auto-save when entering a chamber and auto-save when starting a boss battle. Just why they thought that having to readjust all of your inventory any time you need to restart something would be a fun way to play the game.
It's almost impossible to make any informed decisions without wasting valuable resources and time, hence the numerous reloads as the only way to know what you have to do is to actually visit the chambers and see what's available in each one before devising your plan and then reloading to implement it from an earlier time as any wasted second is likely to mean failure.
The inventory system is extremely badly designed and time-consuming. Instead of just choosing which color your using and filling various hearts from it. You have to constantly go back to the same color and wait for it each time it fills up. After reloading and repeating this hundreds of times it has become the most hated part of this game for the simple fact that it could have been done so much easier and less time consuming.
The ideas for this game are brilliant and interesting and original, but the way they are implemented is horrible. I don't know what kind of testing they did before releasing this but seriously? A game where saving and reloading is 99% of what you do is a good idea?
Save after every move and hope that you won't have to reload again. I used guides for lots of help as there was very little information about what to do in the game and how to proceed. This game is nigh impossible without help from guides. That, to me is also a major game flaw. How can you release a game that simply requires an entirely seperate guide from other players before you have any hope of making any progress?
The story is incredibly interesting. It's dark and alien at the same time. By far one of the most immersive experiences I've ever had. I had a sense that the game was full of metaphors (or perhaps it's just my own associations) and yet the void felt like a place of it's own. The void is it's own reality. Metaphors aside, the place feels real. I don't mean each individual chamber, but the characters, the dialogue, the lore; the literature.
The Void had me mystefied as I analyzed or just wondered about the nature of it's world, it's many creatures and characters and the protaganist. It is truly strange, yet it doesn't trade the bizarre for real feeling, even if bizarre is the feeling you get from the place and situation. There is something horrible and terrifying and even beautiful about this dark place. I hardly feel like I can do it justice in that regard. Just how deep and immersive, strange and beautiful the story is.
There are elements to the story and game which remind me of ideas from the books of Carlos Castaneda. If you haven't read many of those books, then you have no idea what I'm talking about, but there's no way I'm getting into that in this review.
The Void has you making choices and also makes you feel the weight of those choices and their consequences. Once you've started on one path there is really no turning back.
The Void tells you, through various dialogue and/or narratives or just shows you, the hopelessness of the void. It's sets you to do the impossible, which is mirrored in the gameplay. I'm not sure what kind of experience I would have gotten had the gameplay been easier. The desperation for resources is a central theme and to coax that feeling in the player it is implemented in a desperate and nigh impossible journey.
Even if I liked the game, I wasn't ready for a 62 hour grind. The story and experience were definitely real in their own way. I thought it would be more explorative and less super hard work. I have to be more careful. Starting a game like this that the gameplay sucks but the core is something I can appreciate ends with me grinding away because I can't give up on the experience, story, challenge... something. Something always piques my interest or someting obsesses me and I have to see the damn thing through.