Just last week Meta Publishing launched The Uncertain: Light At The End. The post apocalyptic tale of robotic uprisings and simple survival is a well-worn one, but we found the path through this new world was still pretty unsteady.
Available now on PC, via Steam, The Uncertain: Light At The End is a near future sci-fi apocalypse. Where Aloy’s robot uprising changed the very nature of the world around it, publisher Meta Publishing’s new narrative tale finds us stepping into a society where domesticated servants and robot police officers turned on humanity, driving the citizens of high tech cities to scavenge, steal, and stay hidden in order to survive. Mixing tow very well established tropes of a machine uprising and zombie apocalypse sims, The Uncertain: Light At The End should be on a sure footing but when we walked into this tale, it was hard to hold out much hope.
Bow Before Our Robot Overlords
Despite my rather downbeat sounding impressions, The Uncertain: Light At The End opens with plenty of potential. Throwing players into the shoes of a human survivor, Emily, this adventure staggers straight into a supply run on the mean streets of the future. The deserted asphalt and crumbling buildings of the old world are solidly put together, with decent animation and character design. Robotic patrols that thump through the empty streets do seem a little out of place compared to the remaining human scavengers and while The Uncertain: Light At The End isn’t going to match The Medium’s own high def apocalypse, the aesthetic is convincing enough.
The opening gambit, a supply run in an abandoned pharmacy, does quickly uncover some of the more uncertain footing of this game. The potential for a massive open world exploration is curtailed with a set of 3D instances, peppered by puzzles and fetch quests. Nothing here feels unreasonably difficult and the linear nature of the in game activities swiftly evolves into a click everything simulator during huge swathes of content.
In an effort to break up the monotony of entering a room and playing point and click, New Game Order introduces a series of mini game style puzzles in almost every major scenario. Whether it’s matching colors on a grid to fix a scavenged circuit, playing a VR shooting game, or doing the math to unlock a safe these challenges provide something of a break but are also sometimes frustrating lacking in any context or constructive point. One particular safe cracking experience, which involved controlling the rotation of colored rings and navigating the space between l could only be described as an utterly unintuitive mess, with no instructions.
These issues are, unfortunately not the end of the trouble when you’re running a mechanical gauntlet. Repeatedly during my adventures outside, I found animations bugging, duplicates of character models arriving to help, animation bugs and rough transactions that were off-putting and ended up ruining any atmosphere that the narrative ties to build.
The Uncertain: Light At The End’s narrative is probably the strongest part of this adventure with a raft of well voice acted and convincingly written characters that lean heavily on tropes we’ve already seen in other genre tales. Players do manage to dip into a good range of scenarios and there are enough diversions and different choices along the main path that things won’t always play out the way they do on TV. I was certainly surprised when I got the opportunity to leave a companion for dead and even the more unlikable individuals are convincingly unstable. Between the buggy ambience and odd localization bugs that popped up, I still managed to enjoy my time with the cast of The Uncertain: Light At The End.
As you dig into this tale of survival, I can’t help feel that it would have been better suited to a 2D point and click. The Uncertain: Light At The End does play on establish genre tropes but still manages it convincingly. Where it falls down is when it jams in odd immersion breaking puzzles and drops in yet another bug. Uncertain is an appropriate description for this tale of tin and while I’d give it a whirl once it’s had its chrome plated spit shine, I would hold off for some Walking Dead with better footing.