Ah, aliens. When you consider the number of lovable martian protagonists that have been featured in movies and games over the years - such as ET, Superman, and Cryptosporidium 137 (Destroy All Humans) - it's rather surprising that we don't get to assume the role more often. Enter Warp - an action/puzzle title starring an alien named Zero.

Being an alien, Zero has an arsenal of abilities that would make Solid Snake explode in a jealous rage. His first, and most useful ability, is that he can warp (or teleport) short distances - into barrels (no hiding in cramped boxes for him), people, and through walls. Once inside an object or person, he can either make them explode or warp out - leaving them temporarily stunned.

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Zero learns new abilities as you progress; in turn, levels are designed to take advantage of every new trick so you're constantly being challenged. Boss battles in particular incorporate new moves effectively. There's one boss that moves too fast to attack. However, a line marking the creature's next route through the room using one of zero's abilities you can plant explosive barrels along the route to stun the boss and kill it.

Fortunately, not all of the aliens here are boss creatures trying to rip your face off - some are friendly. One such species is the grub. These are spread throughout levels and act as the games currency used to purchase ability enhancements - such as silent movement or warping.

Said upgrades are quite costly and, because only a few grubs are accessible the first time you pass through the level, you will need to backtrack to collect every grub. As a result it prevents players from fully upgrading Zero early on - which would have made the game too easy - while rewarding players who take the time to backtrack.

When it comes to tackling a room with two or three enemies, there's little room for error as one hit, or a slight misstep, can kill Zero. As a result levels often take some trial-and-error. The frustration, however, is dampened by an abundance of save points. In most cases you don't have to kill anyone - although it's good to eliminate threats if you decide to backtrack. The camera comes in useful when you need to avoid unpleasant surprises as you can pan it around in all directions to get a better look at your surroundings.

Visually, Warp is a mixed bag. The high point is the way it depicts Zero's kills - you can see the target gradually expand before it explodes. Unfortunately, it cuts a number of corners with enemies. For a start, there are just a few types of soldier - only differentiated by their armour. In addition, the scientists are all old men and their reaction to seeing you is the same: run and cower in the corner. The human monotony is somewhat alleviated by the turrets and other species of alien.

Warp's biggest drawback is a lack of multiplayer mode online or offline. It's a missed opportunity given Zero's unique abilities - warping into a friend, or laying explosive barrels in a Bomber-Man style mini-game could have been a blast.

Although it's lacking in several areas, Warp is an interesting mix of genres with clever puzzles. It consistently challenges you to make use of your latest ability and ‘Metroidvania’ nuts can take great pleasure in the rewards of backtracking, while it doesn't penalize players who don't.

"Why kill the alien, when you can be the alien?"
- Warp
Follow Own it? Rating: M   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 5 Min


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Comments Comments (1)

Posted by danielbaard
On Friday 11 May 2012 11:09 PM
I'll probably give the demo a try. Looks good.