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Be Careful, Nikopol Demo Impressions

I'm being as careful as I can.

I’m as cynical as the next so-called “man”, but there comes a time when you have to stop, breathe out, and realise how good we have it. Games are great. Life is good! But the Nikopol demo is rubbish. Ah well, it was a positive time while it lasted.

The above em-pictured quote rather gloriously appears at the start of the demo, which means I’m in no position to comment on the potential of the game whatsoever. It might not be an incredibly dated fixed-point Myst-style adventure, with pixel hunting and endless instant deaths. It could be the greatest adventure of all time! Be careful.

It's a shame, because it makes such nice use of the splitscreen thing.

You’ll remember Kieron going off on one of his comicky rants about Nikopol, which is apparently some super-important comic or other. I’m coming to this from pure ignorance, just as any old game. I can only assume that those who care about the source material are only going to be more cross.

Despite all the warning signs, I got my hopes all pointy-uppy when I started playing this. These silly games where your feet are glued to the floor, letting you pivot around by not actually move, are all just poop. When you change locations, there’s no animation, but instead a faded smear of the two scenes. I know these things, I know it means it’ll suck. But it’s nicely painted, and the setting seemed quite fun, if obvious. It’s a future Orwellian Paris, with a fascist dictatorship controlling everything, and making announcements in floaty cars outside the windows. You’re a struggling artist, and you’ve joined a peculiar religious, anti-religious organisation (hey, I didn’t write it). To meet with them you must, um, paint a picture of your dad. That’s puzzle number one. Its logic is broken, of course, and figuring out what you need to do isn’t enough – you must clumsily get it “wrong” before you can do what you were obviously meant to do in the first place.

It's all from the cutscenes because the static in-game shots are a bit dull.

This leads to puzzle number two, which is a collection of insta-death nonsenses which involve randomly clicking until you stumble upon the thing it wants from you, and repeating about five times. This is while being attacked by a giant mutant monster that calls itself the police. It’s like a masterclass of how to not make an adventure game.

Which is a shame, because the voice acting is top-notch, the background painting very nice, and the story potentially interesting. The thought of playing through its clumsy and deranged puzzles to hear it though – you’d have to pay me. Which is how I make a living.

But of course, be careful people. The demo is not representative of the quality of the game in its full version, and so ignore everything I’ve said. It seems odd to release a demo that is categorically not representative of the game – you’d usually assume that would be the very point of releasing a demo. But this one is not. Not at all. Delete this post from your mind.

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John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founding robots of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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