Tomorrow Corporation is bringing us yet again another weird game. I might have gone into this with wrong expectations after their previous games, which were World of Goo and Little Inferno, but I found this highly underwhelming for various reasons.
If you want to learn Assembler and didn’t find a fun way to learn the basics, go ahead with this game, but even then you should read this rather short review before paying 9,99 for this. Why is this review short?, because there is not much else to say about this “game”.
The art design for this game is, like in previous games, really fitting to the atmosphere and has a timeless feel to it. The programming with Assembler works good as well but everything aside of that…
The game starts with you, a new employee, who is working under supervision from people with no clue of what you do in this factory. This whole game takes place in one single room, in a top-down view. You piece together your lines of commands on the right side and write your program. When you press the play button, your character moves by himself and starts moving boxes with numbers or letters on them from left to right, while doing some extra stuff like adding numbers, subtracting two boxes etc.. Up right is your supervisor, this guy represents the humor of this game and the jokes work, for the most part. Also, you can speed up your character movement.
Besides that, there isn’t anything else in this game. I just described the whole basic experience this game has to offer. I forgot to mention that there are cut scenes and a bit of plot but all of these are seriously disappointing in comparison to World of Goo and Little Inferno, in which there were very few “cut scenes” as well, but these were much more amusing and more of a reward. It’s really sad though, because the idea of machines slowly taking over the world and you having to work in order not to get replaced sounds good on paper, but the story here just runs nowhere, it has no conclusion, no satisfying ending or even a consistent plot.
There is barely any music in this game. The few tracks are barely worth mentioning. The humor is existent and genuinely amusing, but falls flat in comparison to the flaws of this game.
You are supposed to use and learn Assembler step by step, that is my guess at least since this whole game is a basic programming tutorial. It doesn’t do a good job though. People, who never had anything to do with programming or didn’t write any programs with Assembler in a long time, will have an easy time at first, but they will be stopped in their progress after a certain amount of missions. When, will be up to the individual. I’m not even ruling out the possibility that there will be people new to programming, who will have little to no problems with this game. Those, who do have problems, will have to look the solution up or try out every possibility they can think of without a guarantee of success.
The issue here is that the game tells you that your program doesn’t work, only works with this specific task but not in general or it works. It will not mention anything about a possible solution nor does it attempt to explain the issue. So players who get stuck are screwed. On the other hand, this game is way too easy for people with experience in programming and it won’t be a challenge for them.
Either way, “writing comments” to sort your thoughts is just outright horrible. You can “draw” notes to keep track of what you’re doing because there is no keyboard support. Have you ever tried drawing letters with a mouse in a very limited space?
On top of that, the playtime of this game can range from underwhelming, easy and quick 2-3 hours for people with experience to frustrating 3-6 hours for people without previous knowledge. Either way, 9,99 for this is way too much to ask. This game, in no way, justifies a price like that. It’s not even a memorable game.
I am really confused, whom were you trying to appeal to Tomorrow Corporation? For a tutorial, your game doesn’t offer any clues on what’s wrong with your programming. As a puzzle challenge, players with programming knowledge have it way too easy and are only going to enjoy the humor for a brief moment, but that’s it. I guess, we should really just count it as “a little experiment” like you advertised, but even in the programming puzzle department, your game is below average.
This game is, outside of visuals, not really that unique so that bonus is gone too.
I can’t give this game a recommendation. I see some people enjoying this, but this game falls flat on pleasing new customers and experienced players. It sticks out from the usual crowd, but that’s about it. I’m sure it is a really fun and short little exercise for experienced programmers but even then, it doesn’t justify 9,99 for the lack of content.
This game is a neatly visualized, overpriced Assembler DLC. It’s not worth your money, but you may consider it for 1-3$ since the humor is good.