This sounded intriguing, and it’s discounted in the Steam summer sale, so I picked it up. It’s not quite what I expected (which was roughly, more like Bayonetta, which is from the same developer), but I’m digging it.

20170702095100_1

Operator 60 confesses her girl problems

I’m about 7 hours in, which might be a quarter of the way through the main story. Like Bayonetta, it’s intended to be played through multiple times. Unlike Bayonetta and just about everything else, the game is different on the second playthrough.

I did get a crash when I first started the game, but I upgraded my AMD drivers and it’s been fine ever since.

One warning: the beginning hour or so offers no autosave, a poor design decision that is not true of the rest of the game. And it ends with a massive boss fight, which sends you back to the beginning if you fail. This is pretty crappy while you are still learning how the game works.  Fortunately there’s a legit workaround: go through it on easy mode, and turn on the auto-targeting (with Q); then 2B will fight on her own and all you have to do is move her around.  You should only need to do this for the boss fights.  (It’s a nice mechanic, though.  You can enjoy the story without being fazed by twitchy bosses.)

Basic situation: you are an android named 2B, basically part of the android special forces. Aliens have taken over the earth, though they are unseen; instead you fight their emissaries, machines ranging from the size of a trash can to the size of a refinery. The androids fight on behalf of the humans, now exiled on the moon.

2B, because this is a Japanese game, is not a chunky space marine but a girl with twin samurai swords (plus a flying probe with a laser gun), dressed in Gothic Lolita style.  She has a partner, another android named 9S, also dressed in black but in boyish shorts. For some reason they both wear black cloth visors that cover their eyes. (Presumably not blindfolds as they seem perfectly able to see.)

You can either go up close and use your swords, or stay back and use the probe’s gun.  Or both at once.  It’s said to work best with a controller, but I don’t have one.  Many enemies shoot out big purple bullets in nice patterns– a genre known as bullet hell.

I recommend rebinding the keys, though.  The default keyboard setup is absurd– e.g. weapons assigned to left and right shift.  How you are supposed to use those and navigate using WASD, I have no idea.  I moved all the weaponry to the numpad so I can move with left hand, fight with right.  (You can’t assign the weapon keys to the mouse, though you perhaps wouldn’t want to, since there are four keys. The mouse can be used to control the camera, or to advance dialogs.)

What surprised me is the pacing. Past the initial section, Automata becomes almost tranquil. You find an android base in a ruined city. You can talk briefly to various androids and collect detritus to sell. The city has some peaceful machine residents, and only a few hostile ones. When you see running water, you’re prompted to go fishing.  You have missions to go to, but in between you can simply walk around the pretty post-apocalyptia.

It’s pretty much lampshaded that Things Are Not As They Seem.  The androids’ dedication to unseen humans (they salute each other with “Glory to mankind!”) is a bit creepy. 2B is all business, mostly shooting down 9S’s friendly overtures. We soon meet peaceful machines who don’t want to fight the androids. We don’t see either the aliens or the humans.

There are some unusual design choices… one is that you can encounter the corpses of other players.  There is no multiplayer, but when you find them, you can choose to revive them (they will fight by your side for a time), or retrieve their parts. In either case you also get a little meditation on mortality.

20170702094715_1

Ave atque vale, Eason. Though you must have been a noob to die in this spot.

But the real mind-blowers are supposed to come later.  E.g., there are 26 different endings.  You can sell various bits of your HUD if you like.  You can even remove your operating system… which will kill you, you fool.  Apparently one of the endings is a bullet hell version of the credits.

More later, but I like what I’ve seen so far.  (After the prologue.)

 

 

Advertisements