It’s always the way; a new species of life arrives on earth and what happens? Yep, it’s taken to a laboratory and experimented upon in the name of science. This is the jump off point for Trapdoor Inc’s new title, Warp.
Played from a top down perspective, Warp is best described as a mixture of stealth and action with a dash of puzzle solving, where the player has to guide the main character, Zero, around the various test labs he/she/it has been trapped in.
Zero will have to negotiate increasingly complex areas by warping into nearby objects, providing their within a certain distance but irrespective of whether it’s an inanimate or living object. Usually with explosive results. Warp likes nothing better than offering the player every opportunity to splatter scientists, soldiers (and everything in-between) up the walls and across the floors in gory, body part-strewn detail.
The puzzles here are well thought out, striking a nice balance between frustration and that “Eureka!” moment where it all falls into place. Crucially there’s flexibility in how they can be approached, which is commendable as it doesn’t force the player into one style of play. There is the need to negotiate not only a conundrum of the level itself, but also increasingly difficult guards and chicken-hearted scientists who will flee to trip alarms, making life more difficult.
Where things trip up slightly are Zero’s controls. The simplicity of movement with the analogue stick, and a press of a button to warp, means anyone can pick up and grasp the basics in next to no time. There is a slight cool down in terms of the ability to warp in and out of an object or person and this can leave Zero horribly exposed, especially if in the midst of a particularly difficult section or scripted event. Thankfully checkpoints are in generous supply to limit frustration, but some will find the set up annoying.
To help mitigate some of this frustration, the player can upgrade Zero’s core powers at various points throughout the game by collecting small glowing grubs. Improving the basic movement speed, amongst other abilities, is highly recommended as it makes Zero feel less sluggish than the default speed. The next most important upgrade is no doubt the echo mechanic, which provides a doppelganger to confuse enemies while Zero slips by. Althought the temptation to cause mischief can often be hard to ignore. Making guards shoot each other by quickly popping in and out of them is a deliciously evil treat if the mood takes the player, or the quiet satisfaction of organising a certain room with possessed barrels so it creates a chained explosion, wiping out everything.
While the core of the campaign can be blown through fairly quickly, there are some fun diversions to be found in the form of Challenge Rooms. Unlocked through natural progression in the campaign, these dovetail nicely with new skills learned throughout, as they ask the player to meet different requirements depending on their demands. Tasks like killing all enemies, sits beside the need to complete a maze in the fastest time possible, with medals on offer for those who master both the controls and the demands. For many these won’t prove anything more than a passing diversion, depending on the player and their level of compulsion to complete everything.
While a short experience, Warp is none the less a fun title that slightly loses steam towards the end. The Challenge rooms will consume those looking to climb the online leaderboards and those with a tendency for completion will no doubt go through the main campaign again attempting perfect, non-kill runs. For everyone else it might not live so long in the memory.