The game begins with a first-person cinematic. Your eyes open and close, you see scientists hauling you somewhere. Turns out they’re bringing you to an underwater science facility to administer tests. Shortly after showing up, you’re contacted by a mysterious being. It’s of your species but lets you know that you’re the only one he can communicate with. You’re special. Practically speaking, the voice exists as a tutorial tool, familiarizing you with your powers. The thing is, Warp is so easy to play that you don’t really need anything to hold your hand.
You play as Zero, a pudgy yellow alien with a few nifty abilities. The big hitch in Warp is, fittingly, the ability to warp. There’s a small reticle in front of you that shows where you will teleport when you press X. Naturally, all of the doors in the science facility are locked shut, so your main means of getting around is warping from room to room. You can also warp into objects and humans. Doing so gives you a chance to hide from scientists and military personel. It also gives you the opportunity to frag. When you’re inside of an object, wiggling the left analogue stick enough will cause Zero to burst through with a flair reminiscent of Viewtiful Joe. Truth be told, I’m a fan of tactical espionage action. A part of me wanted to play through Warp without fragging anyone. However, the exploding animation is so great that I couldn’t help but blow up every other guard I warped into. Add to that the fact that the game tracks a ton of your stats and through pop-up boxes intermittently updates you on them. If you’re signed into the PSN, the stat tracking gets even friendlier, showing your friends’ scores next to yours. Think Marvel Pinball, but with stats such as ‘Frags,’ ‘Distance Travelled,’ ‘Friendly Fire Kills,’ etc. You get a sense of how you’re playing the game differently than your buddies and how close you are to playing it better than them; beating them at their own game, so to speak.
I like the graphical style of Warp. The cartoonish graphics are combined with intense violence to create a dark atmosphere that’s humorous, fun, yet slightly disturbing. I’m reminded of A Clockwork Orange, when the droogs break into a couple’s house and torture them while singing “Singin’ in the Rain”. The playable portions of the game are from a top-down perspective. The cinematics boast some nifty camera shots, but everything is run on the same graphical engine. There were a couple of moments where the engine couldn’t quite perform: slight screen tearing, underwhelming explosions, noticeable slowdown, and the like. The point of the game is to escape from the underwater lab, attempting to contact and/or free fellow aliens. There are two collectible aspects: Grubs, and film canisters. Naturally, these take a bit more effort to collect. The grubs act as currency to upgrade Zero’s abilities and the blowing up film canisters unlocks concept art. In my playthrough, a casual four and a half hours, I upgraded all but two abilities and unlocked most of the concept art. I enjoyed checking out what Zero originally looked like, learning that there were supposed to be scantily dressed women in the game, and seeing other prototypical work. Along with the grubs and film canisters, there are eight challenge rooms scattered throughout the facility.
Challenge rooms come in a few varieties. They exist to help acclimate you to new powers as you gain them. In all, there are four powers in the game. Warp, Echo (create an image of yourself that can walk a certain distance away from you), Swap (send an echo to an object and switch places with it), and Launch (…launch items). Most challenges task you with killing all of the humans, but some test how quickly you can travel or figure out tricky situations. I spent a good 20-30 minutes scratching my head during the Advanced Swap challenge, and when I got it done I had a weird feeling. I realized that the game had such massive puzzle potential. Instead of the relatively linear, forced situations you’re constantly put in, I had just solved a problem without any assistance. This is my main problem with Warp: It doesn’t live up to its potential. I got the feeling that in making the game more user-friendly, Trapdoor lost a little something that would’ve made the game special. Warp isn’t strictly easy; it takes one shot from a guard or the quickfire turrets to kill Zero, and some of the platforming gets tricky. However, you’re almost constantly being fed directions and hints by the alien voice in your head or the loading screens. My other gripe with Warp is how often it loads. The challenge rooms are great. They remind me of VR missions in Metal Gear Solid. I wanted to play them over and over to improve my performance, cut my time, climb the leaderboards, etc., but the game loads every time you restart a challenge. I might be being a bit harsh seeing as how the loading times last anywhere from 5-7 seconds, but I stopped playing them because of how tedious the waiting was.
I mentioned Warp’s warped style earlier. The game sets you in the shoes of a dangerous alien trying to escape quarantine and, presumably, reek havoc to the outside world. The Commander, a recurring mini-boss, is trying to keep you from hurting his people… us. Putting off a mature vibe and crafting a decent story are what Warp does best, in my opinion. When you enter a room, some scientists may cower in a corner or start beating on a locked door. I heard lines like, “I don’t deserve this!” and “I have a wife and kids at home!” that caused me to spare a few of them. They’re just doing their jobs, right? At the same time, I was a bit put off by some flippant f-bombs like, “I said make a death trap, not a fucking obstacle course” and, simply, “Motherfucker!” I’m no stranger to cursing, but the language seemed excessive at times; like it didn’t really fit. There are three mini-bosses to fight throughout the game. The first and third are frustrating, but the second boss, a mutated Siamese alien, was fun.
All in all, I enjoyed Warp. My favorite part of the game was the final hour, when I had all four abilities and were using them interchangeably to solve difficult puzzles or reach well-hidden grubs. The typical build up of unlocking a new power, using it, unlocking another, using it, and so on made for a numbing first half. The game does award you for killing guards in clever ways (or not!) and speedrunning, so there is some replayability. If I revisit the game, I’m definitely sparing every enemy I can. They have wives and kids at home, you know?
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Twisted style
- Stat tracking/friend comparison
- Using all of the powers in creative ways
What I Dislike:
- Slow buildup
- Boss fights 1 and 3