11 October 2012

The Five Cores

Gaming Genres: Graphic Adventure
Story Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Graphical Styles: 3D, Realism, High Resolution
Platforms: Windows
Pricing Model: Pay $
Developer(s): Neebla Games
Publisher(s): Neebla Games
Initial Release Date: September 12, 2012
Website(s): Homepage, Soundtrack
This game is a puzzle game like Myst in realtime 3D. You'll discover five mysterious islands and you’ll try to resolve their strange mechanisms.

A 3D adventure game that is primarily a Myst-like; That, most of all, tries to copy the Myst aesthetic. The game seems to have started life in August of 2012 and was released September of that same year, only a little over a month latter. With the development of this game comes Neebla Games, who seems willing to continue development of adventure game titles. For awhile The Five Cores was one of the early games on Steam Greenlight, and was probably the most interesting looking games on that service; And even though it did not work out, this served as its only real advertising, and the way in which I found the game.

Like I previously mentioned the development of The Five Cores was extremely rapid, and even if much of the game was developed before this one month period I am surprised it was finished in such a short timeframe; The environmental graphics themselves look like they should take many multiplies of that development time. Regardless of exactly how long was taken to develop the game, its less than polished nature does show. It contains a few bugs, for example, it is possible to fall off the edges of the paths in certain locations, when you run around you tend to get stuck, and there is one major puzzle (to shunt power to an important device) that you do not even have to complete. Also, I am rather perplexed about the addition of physics in the form of barrels, they kept getting in my way and rolling around, it would of been a lot better to not include them.

Its main problem is that is does not only copy Myst's style but moreso it copies its specifics, sometimes even ones that do not make sense in the context. There is a letter at the beginning of the game that explains the general situation, exactly like in Myst; But here it makes no sense because it is addressed to you, and you are a complete stranger, who has just randomly arrived on this deserted island. Also, nothing else is ever revealed storywise; That letter is the complete sum total of what we learn about the history of this place. And while many of the places you see look heavily inspired by Myst, its story is so strange and never explained, which is quite the opposite to Myst.

What the game does get right is exploration and experimentation. The game, just like Myst, is all about exploring this world you have stumbled upon; And while it does not do as good a job as Myst in this regard, the landscape is still very exotic and beautiful. In particular, I am talking about its lack of story, the islands and locations do not have any reason to be there and seem to only exist to hold the puzzle of that particular place. One thing it does do well, perhaps even better than Myst in some situations, is the experimental type puzzle solutions. Like Myst, The Five Cores uses challenge through obfuscation; The puzzles and the devices are alien and unexplained, making much trial, error, and experimentation a necessity. These puzzles are completely logic based, with not a single inventory item to be found in the entire game.

The most important aspect of The Five Cores, and the reason to play it, is the alien and beautiful scenery. I would say that it does not quite live up to the still screenshots, but is still very nice in person. One thing done very well is the light bloom, and it really varies the views at all locations. It is nice, but lacks not quite as astounding as I was hoping for.

The Five Cores is a good 3D adventure, and a rather interesting first effort by Neebla Games. It has nice graphics, interesting puzzles, but a rather shallow story. But for its budget price (for an adventure game), it is definitely something worth looking into for anyone interested in.

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Indieness: Indie

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