Jump Around: Plain Sight Reviewed

By Quintin Smith on April 13th, 2010 at 12:16 pm.

It is literally like making love to a laser.

Jump! Jump! Hot on the robo-heels of RPS’s interview with Plain Sight developer Robin Lacey, my Eurogamer review has just gone live. For those of you squatting in the mossy swamp of ignorance, here’s an excerpt:

Understand that Plain Sight is a multiplayer indie game for PC, available on Steam, about murderous, explosive, acrobatic robots battling one another with katanas in a web of gravitational fields. It’s part flight sim, part Jedi Knight, part vertigo-inducing spectacle, part experiment and all risk-reward. What kind of a monster would go and break apart a game like that to say whether it’s worth buying? You might as well dissect a woman to determine that yes, she has healthy kidneys and firm, spongy lungs is therefore probably worth going out with.

Kieron informs me this is the “Patented Gillen Dating Method”, but you’re probably best off not thinking about that and just reading the rest of the review instead. I get quite excited.

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43 Comments »

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  1. Alexander Norris says:

    It’s looking quite good.

    I’m more worried about its longevity than about the actual quality of the content, however. I don’t really want to buy this if it’ll be something I play for a couple of hours then never go back to because it simply cannot capture my imagination, no matter how good the game actually is. I had this problem with Shattered Horizon and I’m afraid it’s going to be a problem with all of these multiplayer-only indie games. :(

    • Premium User Badge

      Thermal Ions says:

      It does definitely sound interesting (and would love to try it out), but I’m with you Alex, longevity is a concern.

      Does anyone know how it manages the matches – master server that connects client hosted games or what?

    • Premium User Badge

      Sagan says:

      You’ve got to be kidding me. The game is less than 10€. So what if the game is only going to entertain you for a couple of hours?
       
      No matter how little time you spend with this, you can’t complain for that kind of money.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      That’s interesting, Sagan, because I’m pretty sure you have no idea how much $12.20 is worth to me. ;)

      It’s not like Plain Sight is a 50€ game being sold for 9€, either. It’s an indie title at indie price, so we’re perfectly entitled to complain about the the perceived lack of value compared to the average indie game. We’re also entitled to complain about the perceived lack of point in spending any money on something we won’t make much use of.

    • Anthony says:

      I had to stop mid-article and comment on your musical taste, Go is an absolutely amazing album. It was one of my most highly anticipated albums and certainly lived up to that. And I guess that game looks alright too.

    • Anthony says:

      Oops, didn’t mean to make that a reply to Alexander. On a related note though, I’m sick of the indie game price arguments. :)

  2. nine says:

    Correct link: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/plain-sight-review

    Apparently that trailing slash makes eurogamer go NOOOOO 404

  3. Mr Labbes says:

    Great review, I am still hoping for a demo somewhere down the line.
    Although I’m not sure how to spend my time until then without Kamikaze Robot Ninjas.

  4. Wilson says:

    Yeah, a demo would be essential for me, since the trailer didn’t look very impressive (though from the review, I get the impression that the trailer doesn’t do a great job of selling the game). It doesn’t really sound like something I think I’d like, but it’s interesting enough to warrant trying a demo, if they produce one.

  5. Ian says:

    I’d really like a demo… it looks awesome but I think I’d need a demo.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Schaulustiger says:

    A proper candidate for a Free Wekend on Steam.

  7. Mario Figueiredo says:

    There are games that I feel I should pay for them simply because I MUST reward the obvious love, dedication and creativity put into them. And Quintin puts it better than I ever could:

    I still want to give it 12 because I can’t shake this dim belief that Plain Sight is what more multiplayer games should be. Why restrict ourselves to earthly, familiar scenes when we can control extraordinary robots and duel in a gravity playground? Why keep death as such a one-dimensional, sad event? We have a medium where we can do anything, and be anything. Plain Sight is made by people who understand that, I think.

    After all, if I’m ready to shell out 5 euros as a contribution to a dedicated love-making game developer, why not put 2 euros on top of that and get the game in return. It is even selling at all major outfits: Steam, Impulse, D2D, Gametap, Metaboli, Gamers Gate. There’s really no excuse.

    But then I remember something… lovely as it is, it’s not for me. I just do not have anymore the skills to play deathmatch games. I get owned by my own 10 year old daughter more times than I will ever publicly admit.

    It then becomes hard to contribute in any way to an indie title that obviously doesn’t rock my boat in the very least. I’m however registering here my respect for game developers like this.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      There’s bot support, you know! I actually found some of the most enjoyable moments I had with Plain Sight were offline matches with Easy bots. I could deliberately slow down the pace of play and just watch the fight unfurl.

    • Sobric says:

      @ Mario

      What dedicated love-making game is that then? :P

    • Wulf says:

      Bot support. Hmm…

      Might just have to give this a buy.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sagan says:

      Yes Mario, tell us who that dedicated love-making game developer is. If someone out there is making games with naked women in them, that you would describe as having “love, dedication and creativity put into them” then I demand to know of that.
      (Sorry if I’m misquoting here, and you only meant to reference to Plain Sight with that description)

    • Wulf says:

      I honestly believe Mario meant “loving” as opposed to “love-making”.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Actually it was a honest mistake from a rather literal translation from my own language. Need to be more careful about trying to bring in new terms on a language that isn’t mine.

      In any case, “love-making game developers”, in the sense they show the love they put in making their games.

  8. Captain says:

    Looks awesome, but longevity boosting unlockables (costumes, effects, different style swords – all aesthetic of course) would be a necessity for my RPG-moulded, micro-target-obsessed, maybe-wanted-to-play-with-dress-up-dolls-as-a-kid-but-couldnt…brain.

    • Wulf says:

      No.

      That was annoying enough with Team Fortress 2.

      Grind is bad, kids.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Captain

      Agreed, but then again individual progress and unlocks are the only way I find MP-only games even remotely compelling, which may simple mean that MP-only shooters of this sort simply aren’t my genre.

  9. ArtyFishal says:

    This is a good review that helps illustrate the somewhat esoteric appeal of Plain Sight( a game I have been relishing). Smith’s comments concerning the inappropriateness of the music came as a surprise to me; not in the sense that I disagree, but rather that it perfectly crystallized an as yet unformed feeling that has been gnawing at my mind since I first launched this game- the developers have under sold themselves. The exhilaration one feels from lassoing around gravity wells and soaring through parabolic arcs is a beautiful thing. Plain Sight captures two disparate parts of the mind and creates a harmony: It encapsulates both the oft-cited fantasy of flying and the awe one has for Newton and the beauty of geometry. Plain Sight finds the happy median there as seems to be its unstated theme: Balance. It somehow sits between the frantic and the sublime.

    If the developers saw this, they never made it explicit and that is the tragedy. They should have scored it as Kubrick scored 2001, to capture and make clear grace. Instead of consistently comparing it to a flight simulator, something that is chunky and discrete they should have said that it was like a ballet on the rings of Saturn, or tag on the Gateway Arch, or like Newton’s Method- you’re always sliding down the tangent line.

  10. Lilliput King says:

    I like it a lot. Would recommend to anyone etc as there’s room for a lot of skill, but also for casual play. The maps are genuinely beautiful and inventive, and have a significant impact on the way the game is played.

    The one problem is it can be difficult to actually get somewhere in particular as most of your movement revolves around other players. As I said in the other thread, I reckon a ‘dash to alternative gravity well’ function would improve all the modes, but particularly modes like CTF.

  11. Sobric says:

    Nice review! Consider me sold, I think I’ll give this a go.

  12. ironanno says:

    Thanks for lifting me out of that icky swamp. I’ll take a tour of the rings of Saturn once my boots dry out.

  13. WiPa says:

    It’s good for a few hours but then it gets really stale.

    • Wulf says:

      That’s how I feel about pretty much every mainstream competitive multiplayer FPS (with perhaps the sole exception of Team Fortress 2), and yet look at the popularity of Counterstrike, I never did understand that. So perhaps this is my Counterstrike.

  14. Wulf says:

    There are a few posts here that sum things up for me; Quinns’ own review, Mario’s post, and Norris’s post coming mostly to mind.

    Quinns has put before this mischievous idea before in much the same way I have, the idea is this: “We can choose to be creative and fantastic or we can choose to be boring and staid, it’s baffling that most of humanity seems to opt for the latter choice.” It’s true, it is baffling, and I just don’t understand it either. It’s also true that most of humanity does opt for the boring choice, and at the end of the day the more brilliantly unique something is the smaller the eventual playerbase is going to be.

    Therefore it’s a crying shame that–all though I’m totally into this game–it won’t last long, and soon the servers will be ghost towns, because the dullspods will have returned to their Counterstrike, their Modern Warfare 2, and they’ll be fragging each other in the same, familiar maps there, running around like lab mice and following some apparently basic programming rather than engaging in something truly brilliant. This is why World of Warcraft was always more popular than a number of far more creative and inventive MMOs out there. It’s true to humanity, the vast majority clings to boredom, very few seem to have the spark that makes them want something more.

    I may just buy this anyway, because I want to play it, even if only for a little while. And I may be able to drag a friend or two into it for a couple of fun matches. But I do find myself wishing that it hand a single-player mode, and I wish the developers would realise what I’ve realised: There are going to be plenty of people who want to support you, but your servers are still going to be largely dead because only very few people are going to want to play something new and interesting. With The Ship, the only thing that saved it was the bots they released for it later, since that way I can play on my own, or just with one or two friends and bots can make up the rest of the game.

    As a multiplayer game though, its life is going to be the same as a particularly unique mod (which is why I don’t do multiplayer mods any more, since I hate watching them die) and I give it about a month at most. Next time guys, make a single-player game, or one that can work with just two or three human players.

    • Premium User Badge

      Schaulustiger says:

      I totally agree with you.

      Unfortunately, there are already only a few populated servers for Plain Sight with a maximum of maybe 20 or 30 players. Most indie multiplayer games just don’t achieve the critical player mass to sustain a healthy community.
      Which is a shame because from my first impressions I can only recommend Plain Sight. It’s hectic, much more against real opponents, but it has its own beauty. Gracefully jumping through space really is a blast and finishing that run with a nice kill makes it one of those rare unforgettable multiplayer experiences.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      Yes, it’s a sad fact that “unique,” “unusual,” and “sustainable multiplayer community” very seldom go together. I’d be a lot more interested in this if it had a single player component, as it certainly looks like it would be a lot of fun.

    • Wulf says:

      I plumped for it, anyway, even though it might not last long. At the very least it has competent bots, and that was surprising to me. Especially in the Godzilla vs Ninjas (yes, really) mode. So a couple of human players and bots make it worth the price I paid for it, but it would be nice if it continued to grow and I could count on people being into it a bit down the road.

      It does have bots though, but the thing is, eventually that’s all it might have unless your friends are interested in a match or two. I could see a fantastic single-player game being put together based on these concepts though, which would be kind of like Super Mario Galaxy+++ with robots, which would be amazing.

      As it is though, the situation is better than I thought it would be, thanks to the bots, but I really hope their next game is a single-player one, based on these concepts.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Schaulustiger: 20-30 maximum is a little off. There’s getting on for 100 players on as we speak.

      KG

    • Wulf says:

      @KG

      I admit, I’m addicted. And a bit later I’m going to hop into the online arena and probably suck badly, but have fun doing so!

      Please don’t let this die off.

  15. Warduke says:

    Is mouse and keyboard the best way to play this? gamepad?

    • Wulf says:

      I think you can use anything, really. But mouse & keyboard does help with accuracy.

  16. Wulf says:

    Visual Disability Accessibility Evaluation of Second Sight

    (It’s all official like!)

    There isn’t too much text, and what there is of it isn’t tiny, and that’s a great thing. The contrasts between the visible colours are really helpful, too, and even a person with visual disabilities can immediately tell where there’s a concentration of enemy robots. That’s awesome.

    Also, the targeting cursor is actually pretty large, and there’s a white line to one’s target, so it’s really easy to tell when one has a lock. The skill in this game doesn’t come from being able to shoot the hat off a pixel-sized soldier two miles away, but rather knowing when to attack, and when to explode.

    In other words, this game is friendly and inviting to people who don’t have the best sight, and for that reason I can praise it. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to play this due to poor sight then I’d say not to worry, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to dive right into this. Just give it a chance to make sure that you understand how it works, for Plain Sight (apt) doesn’t involve any blind shooting.

    Thumbs up!

    How to be accessible: Considering accessibility when putting a game together will get you more sales at the end of the day, it might even double the amount of purchases you rake in if you’re an indie developer, and it isn’t hard. You could even have it there as an option, so that people with disabilities can be as capable as everyday players. It’s not a big deal to add a scalable UI/fonts and easy to see cues to things, after all, and I say that as someone with experience, as I’ve added this myself to moddable games in the past.

  17. Erlec says:

    Great review, made me buy it and try it out.

    If I should compare it to something, I would compare it to the intro of Ninja gaiden (nes) You and the enemy jump around trying to not get hit by each other charge move and when you see a chance you take it! Often you hit each other with the charge at the same time and fly from each other again. This keeps up until someone makes a false move or charge into you and explode.

    Fun times, will be my relax game for some time. :)

    P.s. Check the controls, I didn’t know I could block! :O

  18. Hippo says:

    I am pretty much in the same boat as a lot of others here; the last indie multiplayer game I bought and loved was Threadspace: Hyperbol. And that was pretty much dead on arrival in terms of community (I hate you all for not buying it, by the way). So with indie games, I’m sticking to single player.

    But… bots. I like bots. They’re much less obnoxious than real human beings, and I might actually stand a chance against them too. And the game looks gorgeous and unique, and is just the kind of thing I want to support. So what the heck. I’ll have a go at it, and see what happens.

  19. Kieron Gillen says:

    It’s eight quid. I think even if the community dies in 3 months, you’ve got a good few months of bashing the shit out of people. I just had another couple of happy couple of hours with it – CTF works really well*, and visually is particularly brilliant.

    Thinking about it, an eight-quid indie single-player game that lasts 2-5 hours? I’ve played that much of this already. I think if it intrigues you and you plan to play it now, you won’t regret it.

    KG

    *Well – except the flag collision area being a bit small.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Yes, I have to agree Kieron. And after knowing about the bots, and after reading Wulf’s latest posts, you guys convinced and I should buy it.

      But I’m a churl. And so here’s my protest:
      “Stupid irritating multiplayer-only games. I can’t stand this trash and the people that play most of this crap. And I’m buying it! Christ, I must be stupid! Here I go… getting ready for the kiddies and their ‘lolz i pwnd you’, ‘u r so lame’ and ‘woot! woot!’

    • Wulf says:

      Play it against bots and you won’t have that problem!

      It’s worth the money, though, I have to say that. I wasn’t aware of the particularly excellent bots before I rambled, and now I am. I’d love to see this become popular though, with eventual modding tools, new maps, and all that good stuff. It really deserves to be that popular.

  20. JonFitt says:

    Jump up, jump up, and get down!