Puzzle games are an interesting breed of video game. They by their very nature challenge players to think outside the preverbal box, forcing us to look at the world around us in a different light. In many cases, this can be a rewarding experience, when after minutes and in some cases hours you finally solve that puzzle that unlocks the door and lets you into the next room. Over the years we have seen many genres make use of the puzzle based mechanics with some titles such as Legend of Zelda including some basic but satisfying moments where other games, such as the Portal series, rely whole heartily on the concept of escape the room as the backbone for the game.
Illogika Studios recently released Subaeria; a top-down, roguelite puzzler for PS4, Xbox One and PC that falls closer the latter in regards to the use of puzzles. Build from the ground up as a series of escape the room scenarios, As the player, you will be forced to think fast and react even faster as killer robots seek your demise. This whole premise is wrapped in an interesting and dark story full of questions to be answered. After spending the last few days with the title I am here to present to you our review. So grab that coffee kick back and enjoy our Gamespace Review of Subaeria.
Set in a dystopian future where humanity is forced to underwater cities as a result of mass global warming, Players take on the role of Styx, a teenage hacker who is on a mission for revenge after her family is murdered by the cities overlord. Bent on seeing every robot between her and her goal destroyed Styx sets out on a one-woman mission to find and destroy the overlord.
The story is immersive and interesting, using a series of NPC’s and messages to keep the player engaged during the playthrough. As you progress through the city you will come across social areas where you can interact with NPC’s and purchase goods. These areas work to help progress the story but also as a reprieve from the non-stop action of the puzzle rooms. Overall the story of Subaeria is fresh, intriguing and one of the best parts about this action puzzler.
The game offers some great top-down visuals and does provide an interesting perspective to play from but it does quite frequently cause issues with navigating and surviving the world. As a player, you are working with a locked top-down camera. As a result, there are times where you cannot clearly see potential obstacles in a room or accurately judge heights of objects scattered around a room. This led me to several moments of frustration over hitting objects couldn’t clearly identify or die because I thought I could jump over what seemed to be a low-level obstacle. It wasn’t a game breaking thing but did cause a lot of unnecessary frustration and when dealing with a roguelike game, is not something you need more of.
Speaking of the roguelite mechanics in Subaeria I have to confess that I find them quite frustrating and not in a good “roguelite” way. Very little carries over after a death by way of progression and as deaths happen on the regular (especially early on as you are learning the mechanics) the game becomes repetitive quickly. With little to look forward to on restart, it’s hard to keep slogging along. Even with its fresh story, Subaeria struggles to find the balance in its roguelite mechanics and more times than not lands on the wrong side of the line.
Roguelite mechanics aside the game does offer some great puzzle mechanics and with the added element of something always trying to kill you, it forces you to think quickly. I enjoyed this element of the game a lot. The controls were consistently tight and offered an interesting take to combat. Instead of an active combat system, Subaeria forces you to instead use your hacking skills and power ups to force enemies to kill each other or simply destroy themselves. It’s a great approach to combat forcing your to use your brain for every encounter instead of simply blasting your way out of each situation.
As much as I loved the puzzles and combat they weren’t without their issues, or to be more precise, glitches. I ran into a few situations where AI would get stuck on corners or abilities wouldn’t work as advertised. An example of this would be in using a hack designed to force enemies to fire at your marked target. More than once I would mark a target, kite enemies to it and then die as they completely ignored it and instead continued their murder, death, kill of my poor avatar. I also ran into a frame rate issue a few times on my PS4 Pro, specifically while dealing with boss fights that cause a death or two along the way. Overall the glitches and bugs added to some already frustrating situations