“Low resolution. High imagination ”is a very good mantra, and seeing it accompanying an Italian software house like Theta Division is sure to please us. Dealing on the pages of specialist video game reviews with good potential created in a country which, like ours, certainly cannot be defined as being at the forefront of the gaming industry, is increasingly becoming the norm and also the interesting VirtuaVerse seemed to have the powers to convince at all levels.
The search for a synthesis between the will to support local productions and the need to tackle, as far as possible, a semblance of objectivity, remains an important aspect that should not be underestimated in these situations. It’s good to be on the side of the works of Bel Paese, but not for that, you can come to idolize a bad product, right? But fortunately the problem does not even arise because the adventure of our Nathan is certainly not a bad product.
A sprawling metropolis constantly battered by rain, torn by a labyrinth of streets and alleys where the darkness is only torn by the cold neon light and the sounds of an infamous club. A universe dominated by AI, by the desire to escape reality and by a society that has now largely accepted to live a life almost constantly covered with a thin but persistent layer of holograms emblematic of fiction, of l ‘illusion. Not being “chipped” in this world is as much about wisdom as it is about marginalization.
Let’s get things straight before talking about the title in detail: we would have liked to find ourselves in front of a less mysterious and anonymous protagonist, and more charismatic. We could also have benefited from a more in-depth presentation of the universe that we explored as guests for ten hours. That said, Nathan’s adventure (Never? NdSS) is a concentrate of undoubtedly well-thought-out cyberpunk stylistic and narrative elements, which from very personal locations develop a larger plot that is certainly enjoyable even in the midst of an undeniable dose of clichés.
Nathan pursues a dignified existence by selling various types of hardware and software. These deals allow him to share a low-key apartment with his girlfriend Jay, a key figure who sets in motion the central events of VirtuaVerse storytelling.
Just as Jay suddenly disappears, leaving a cryptic message on a mirror and blocking the completely obscure Nathan in his apartment, we begin the dances and a journey through classic sci-fi environments and in some ways absolutely unexpected panoramas. The very first objective is to repair our AVR headphones (which will then become a central part of the gameplay) but soon our research will put us in front of events much more important than us and our fiancee.
Whether it’s to fix the accidentally broken visor or to try to ruin the tattoo of an innocent graffiti artist at all costs, the gameplay is always based on old school point and click adventure mechanics in which exploration, dialogue with the characters and the management of objects and stocks are the masters.
The formula is therefore resolutely classic but tries not to become fossilized on an exclusively linear progression by asking us to return to areas already visited to complete certain puzzles through objects or interactions hitherto inaccessible. In this way, an extra layer of complexity is added to a title which in itself is anything but very simple, also due to some design choices that perhaps could have been implemented in a different way.
Inventory, for example, quickly becomes quite overwhelming and scattered with an incredible ability to fill Nathan’s endless pockets with seeming odds and endings and absolutely useless tools for hours of play. Another item that we think could be reviewed with different choices is the ease of getting lost on certain objects or interaction points on the screen. An option to highlight the objects with which it is possible to interact would most likely have been very practical and would have avoided certain “pixel hunting” situations.
Almost unassailable, however, is the whole stylistic / artistic aspect. Obviously, if pixel art causes you a mixture of loathing and impatience, there is absolutely nothing you can do. For the rest, the work on the visual aspect carried out by Theta Division needs to be framed and manages to transmit the sci-fi imagery as well as possible even with sequences that can be considered as excellent cutscenes. Even better is our assessment of the soundtrack, extremely successful and convincing in all situations and for the duration of the adventure, capable of never turning out to be mundane, repetitive or excessively intrusive.
But given the many merits, why do we think VirtuaVerse can’t come close to excellence? Unfortunately, some puzzles turn out to be quite clever and devoid of any real logic. We find ourselves performing certain actions simply because we have the ability to do so and without a real plan. In some cases the developments of certain puzzles are achieved almost by accident and without that eureka or that mixture of exploration and deduction that would allow the puzzle component to stand out with even greater quality.
It is in some ways the same problem with VirtuaVerse’s ownership type: presenting diverse and interesting puzzles without going too far into the absurd and without touching the illogical, is probably the biggest challenge that every adventure points to. click should not so much try to win in all areas, but to fight to the best of its ability.
Either way, if you’re die-hard fans of sci-fi and point-and-click adventures of the retro soul, you will find yourself in front of an absolute must-see that you thought would probably deserve an extra point, especially in a period when the game is sold at a reduced price on Steam.
The line between wedge of tribute full of splendid quotes and concentrated of clichés, however, is very blurred and for this reason ours is a slightly more subdued enthusiasm. We don’t want to talk about originality though how many games can be considered truly original these days, but perhaps the inevitable sense of déjà vu in some sections could have been mitigated more effectively.
In any case, we are extremely happy to have in hand such a well thought out and neat Italian project, another little gem that bodes well for a local scene that is gradually populating the medium / small realities to keep an eye on very carefully.
Between dangerously crafted viewers, holograms around every corner, AI so advanced to be frightening, cybernetic circuits and hackers ready for anything, VirtuaVerse is an adventure that deserves your attention.
Source : Reddit