The City Noir feel of this game hit me as soon as I loaded up this game and was greeted by the title screen, it is a cyberpunk world and you see this world from a zoomed out top down perspective. It looks very much like the original Grand Theft Auto games that were released on the original Playstation back in the 90s, in fact so similar it feels that on first glance you would think it plays the same way, it doesn’t though it is a completely different experience and I have to say much harder to get to grips with. You play as either a male or female private investigator who carries out contract killings on targets whilst avoiding the police, gang members or even other members of the public who may well be armed or all to keen to call in the police if they spot you walking round with your gun. The police also have drones that fly around the city, making it even harder to avoid them
Flat Earth Games are an Australian developer and whilst it appears on first glance like a familiar game that you may have played many years ago it does have a few things that make it different, it is far more stealth based, you cant just run around killing people to complete missions you do have to plan you actions quite carefully, my first time playing I repeated the same tactic of just finding and shooting the first target, I didn’t realise that you really had to take your time, tail the target waiting until he was alone and then even disposing of the body so that you didn’t alert anyone, only then can you complete the mission and get your contract paid. Doing this really is not easy, every weapon is a one shot kill, both for you and against you, you really do need to be patient as each time you die you start the mission over again from the start with anything you may have collected on the way wiped away.
It sounds difficult and there is no denying it, it is hard and at times very frustrating , it may look simple in premise but it is a complicated game that has every pixillated person on screen has a purpose, somewhere to go, to be or someone to defend. Take your time just watching and they do follow a set pattern, but as soon as you interact with that they will change and it usually ends up with you starting the mission over again. Progress through some missions and then you will other objectives added, sometimes your target will be carrying a briefcase that you need or worse they have a bodyguard. Killing one target discretely is hard, so you can only imagine how hard it is to knock off two targets without rousing suspicion from gangs or the police.
The money you earn from the contracts is spent on two areas, firstly your aim is to buy some forged travel papers so that you can progress to the next level, but you also need to spend cash on new equipment so that you can complete harder contracts, it is a balancing act that gets harder as the longer you spend in each level the more the police presence becomes, everything in this game is geared against your character and getting to the next level is a relief.
Sadly the story doesn’t really exist in depth, you never get to learn why the targets are on your hit list, I would have liked a little profile on each target to learn why I am killing them apart form just to earn more money to get to the next level, a nice option would have been to add multiple targets with different crimes and values and then let you decide which ones you would take based on your moral thinking. After all the missions do get repetitive as they are effectively the same, they just get harder the longer you play.
I did encounter a few bugs on this build of the game, nothing too major but there were a couple of times when I was booted back to the desktop and as some levels can be lengthy requiring many contracts to get the required funds, it is frustrating when you get within a few hundred credits to then have to start again through no fault of your own, luckily this was only a couple of times and I am sure they will be fixed in time.
Metrocide has a lot of good ideas, the city noir setting is great, the sound in the game also fits perfectly and with this you can get drawn in easily, balancing upgrading your equipment and getting out of the level. Sadly though it was all let down for me by being just too hard and frustrating, I understand some people love difficult games but for me this just seem too difficult and lacked enough variety to keep me going through those hard patches.
Reviewed on PC