In Volume Rob Locksley takes on the lead role in a retelling of Robin Hood. Instead of physically stealing from the rich, Locksley uses a simulation to present himself as a symbol of hope. Using his expert skills to show the population that they too can stand up and take back their country from Gisborne. The story and writing are fine on their own, but it’s the voice work provided by Andy Serkis, Danny Wallace, and Charlie McDonnell that really sell it. Unfortunately the story often feels like it’s intruding on the game. Most of the story is presented as you’re going through a stage. I often found myself stopping and just listening to the characters before moving on. (Doing certain things like picking up data logs to read will cause the voice over to repeat itself.) I’m not sure what the best option would be, but it felt like there should be a better way to present the story. It’s too distracting in its current form.
Throughout Volume’s story you’ll find yourself in 100 different stealth simulations. As Rob you’ll need to avoid detection while collecting every gem in each stage. Through progression you’ll gain access to a number of different gadgets that’ll cause distractions, turn you invisible, stun enemies, etc. I love both the aesthetic and purity to Volume. There’s no fighting or killing in Volume. Everything is reliant on skillfully taking on each level in complete stealth and as fast as possible. Each gadget is fun to use and allows for interesting strategies later in the game. Different enemy types have their own field of vision and will react differently to spotting you. So much of Volume is learning enemy patterns and exploiting them to your advantage.
There’s a steady difficulty increase throughout the game, but Volume never really gets as challenging as I had hoped. Part of this is likely due to how common and lenient the checkpoints are in each level. It’s easy to get into a habit of making suicide runs at a checkpoint since it’ll save your progress, even when caught, as long as you touch the checkpoint. The last few levels also felt weirdly easy and anticlimactic when you consider the stakes. (There appears to be a patch coming soon that’ll add a harder difficulty.)
There’s a level editor in Volume that gives access to every tool used to create levels in the game. After a few minutes of toying around with things I felt like I had a pretty decent understanding of how everything worked. (Even path-finding for enemies is pretty easy to understand.) It’s an easy level editor to get into and there’s already some interesting user levels available.
What I like most about Volume is how confident the game design is. It’s fully aware that it’s a game and doesn’t try to be anything else. Short text bubbles give tutorial-like hints without talking down to you. Everything is there for a reason and experimenting with gadgets can be a lot of fun. The story, characters, level editor, and overall aesthetic are just really cool bonuses to an excellent stealth game.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Great stealth gameplay
- Lots of cool and interesting gadgets
- Great level design
- Really cool virtual artistic style
- Great voice acting
What I Dislike:
- Story segments overlapping with gameplay can be distracting
- Anticlimactic final level