Sunday, 1 May 2016

Asylum Reviews: Volume [PS4].

What can I say about Volume?
It's a marvelous game, with great atmosphere, frustrating puzzles and tremendous voice acting, and I thoroughly enjoyed every frustrating bit of it.

When I played the first level, I was instantly hooked. It's one of those games, where not only do you want to find out the story and what's going on, but you want to replay a level sixty times to improve. The levels start off fairly simple, and each time a new mechanic is introduced (for instance, the ability to temporarily render your enemies useless), you get a quick explanation, then set off on your way.

In Volume, you play as a character called Robert Locksley (Charlie McDonnell), who creates artifical renderings of locations with a VR device called Volume, using the archives of Guy Gisborne (Andy Serkis) - a super wealthy businessman, with less than stellar ethics - then robs from them, akin to Robin Hood, live-streaming the whole thing online. As the game progresses, Gisborne is locking in on you, trying to prevent you from causing any more trouble, with the levels getting trickier and more complex as you go on.

The puzzle factor is what really drew me in. I love a good brain teaser, and some of the levels really make you work out where you need to be to distract an enemy, hide from an enemy, and timing. It's all about the timing. From using the various gadgets at your disposal, to stealthily sliding around a wall, ducking down to avoid detection and quickly scooting past moving lasers, it's a magnificently crafted stealth game. One slightly confusing part was the shadows, as entering a shadow renders you completely invisible to all guards. I mean, they're AI robot guards, surely they should still be able to sense you, somehow - they don't even react when you touch them in the shadowed areas, but that's just a minor gripe.

I played Volume on the PS4, and I'd love to give it a go on Vita too, however that will have to wait as we still don't own one! So this review is specifically for the PS4 version, but I imagine there's very little difference between them.

What's great too, is that not only do you have the 100 levels to play through, and get all the trophies, and customise your character, you can also play other peoples' levels, and create your own, too. This is a fantastic way to keep your interest in the game, long after you've completed the main story. There are quite a lot of other games out there that have their own level editors, etc. but Volume's level editor really is great, and most of the time, playing other player's creations feels like just another level in the game.

There are plenty of collectible texts in Volume, too. With them spread out over the levels, these notes provide a little more insight and backstory into the game, with some being simple emails between workers at Gisborne's company (and these emails actually follow up on each other, providing multiple little background stories for you). One frustrating part about these texts is that there are trophies for collecting 25%, 50%, 75% and lastly 100% of all texts, but there is no tracker in the game for them. So you need to keep track yourself - Allan was raging when he completed the game and the 100% trophy didn't pop as he was so sure he'd clicked them all (he later got this after randomly entering a level and reading a random text, which he is sure he'd already done, so unsure if it just semi-glitched).

More of the story is given to you in the conversations between Locksley, and the AI built into the Volume, Alan (Danny Wallace). Alan explains a lot of what's going on, and pretty much eggs you on to continue on what you are doing, as he is bound to serve whoever is currently in possession of the Volume.

It didn't take me too long to Platinum Volume. Something which I was really happy about - my first Platinum, yay! The replayability is all in the level editor and the leaderboards. It's mighty satisfying to compare your own times against friends and strangers alike. Whilst I don't think I'll ever rank high up on the worldwide leaderboards, as some of the folk on there just clearly aren't human, it's nice to see that I can at least whip through a level faster than my friends.

Overall, Volume is a fantastic game, and especially great if your a fan of the puzzle-y elements. The art style is also a very cool, unique factor, and really works well in the context of the game. I'd definitely suggest buying it, plus at just £14.99 it's a bargain, considering that Cross-Buy enables you to get it for both PS4 and Vita for that one price.

Have you played Volume? What did you think about it?
Let me know in the comments below!

- V x

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