By Nathan Grayson on October 11th, 2013 at 11:00 am.
Many games let you hack things. Too many, I might argue, especially when the result is some half-baked mainframe-smoking minigame. Interference, however, is taking a far more interesting approach, allowing you to hack reality in order to stealthily maneuver around dead-eyed killbots in a cyberpunk noir sidescrolling world. Basically, think Mark of the Ninja, but levels are both playgrounds for the fleet-footed and Rubik’s Cubes for the gargantuan-brained. It’s a neat setup, but based on a newly released free demo, it still needs a fair amount of work.
I do wonder why no one carries umbrellas in these cyberpunk noir worlds, seeing as global warming or some other nefarious force has ensured that gloomy rains pitter-patter perpetually. Maybe future augments keep skin desert-dry at all times or something – although that sounds… equally unpleasant.
At any rate, Interference’s mechanical foundations are solid, but the demo left me wanting. For one, I found stealth to be more or less unforgiving, which forced a number of frustrating trial-and-error-heavy situations. Areas offered multiple paths (well, one or two, anyway) but not multiple approaches. Regardless of which path I chose, I had to quickly react to barrages of robots, lasers, and other obstacles directly.
Mark of the Ninja’s influence was clear in these sections, but that game’s brilliance lied in its openness to cold, calculated pre-planning, feet-pajama-soaking improv, and everything in between. Now, maybe Interference’s goal is to specialize in tough-as-nails trial-and-error. If so, more power to it, but that’s not really something I personally enjoy. And maybe later levels are more interesting, but I can only judge what I played.
Hacking, similarly, seemed to revolve around singular “correct” solutions. The demo’s levels basically were Rubik’s Cubes. They started out as jumbled, impassable series of obstacles, and I had to solve them. That’s fine (and even fairly interesting, in some cases), but I couldn’t help but feel like there was a rich vein of untapped potential pulsing just beneath the surface. What if Interference not only offered multiple paths of actual consequence, but I could also create them myself? Sure, it’d probably leave the game ripe for the breaking, but as is, out-of-order levels just felt like an artificial extra step. Fix level, then proceed as you normally would in any other game, etc. Again, this element of the game didn’t strike me as bad, per se. Just lacking. Flavorless.
Interference’s ideas are intriguing and its world is striking, but I really, really hope it opts to push further. It has all the tools to become something really special. It just, you know, should maybe think about rearranging them first.