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This Volatile Dystopia: Contract Work

I covered Contract Work's close-run Kickstarter finish in back in April and now the game is ready for release. Well, it's ready for early release, which means you can play it right now and pay $2.99 to unlock the current version should you so desire. The plot and setting led me to expect a side-scrolling Deus Ex but Contract Work is much more like a side-scrolling Syndicate. Despite upgrade elements that allow for stealthier or more violent approaches, it's a game about being a gun for hire and the gun is the central tool. Well, guns, to be precise. You are guns for hire. The action is fast, as waves of enemies spawn at the map's edge and head for their objectives. Sometimes you are the infiltrator, sometimes the defender, but either way there is a great deal of robot-smashing to be done.

The game controls well with mouse (aiming, shooting) and keyboard (movement, double jumping), and once I learned to read the minimap quickly and accurately, I found the pace less unforgiving than I'd anticipated. With a few upgrades in place, it's even possible to sneak and melee through some assignments.

It does seem a shame that the game's theme doesn't come across particularly strongly though. Hacking terminals involves holding down a button to open a lock or receive a prize. It could be lockpicking, with chests in place of terminals, and there'd be no real difference.

The graphics, taken as a whole, lack character, even if some of the robot designs are attractive in isolation. It's all too busy, which added to my initial sense of disorientation and difficulty. The screen presents too much information, the camera is a little too close, and the character feels beset from all sides, even before the real action begins. But given time to adjust, I made sense of my personal space and realised I had more control than had been immediately apparent.

Worth a look though. The trial is short but gives a good idea of how this odd little shooter plays.

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Adam Smith


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