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Game review 24 May 2020, 12:09

VirtuaVerse Review – Perfect Cyberpunk is Pixel Art Mixed With Synthwave

VirtuaVerse is a monument of pixel art and synthwave. An eye-catching and ear-pleasing journey to the 80's that revives the dusty point'n'click adventure genre.

The Curse of adventure games

That Valenberg guy has done an incredible job.

I mentioned that the adventure films from the 1990s had their own rights. VirtuaVerse really could have appeared in the epoch, as it recreates the design of those games without any compromises. Including the flaws.

All right – in the past, we might not even have considered them flaws. Today, the logic of adventure remains specific, if not illogical. That was the case in Gabriel Knights, that was the case in Broken Swords. The same is true of VirtuaVerse.

I was able to solve most of the causal chains in VirtuaVerse, but there's a few that you can probably only get right either with a solution, or after pulling all your hair out. Yes, VirtuaVerse is difficult, but it's not so much the puzzles (because they are, in fact, quite straightforward) as it is the logic of come events. While predicting that to freeze a faulty, automatic drawer, you need a certain kind of an item is within anyone's capabilities, it's hard to imagine anyone figuring out that you have to lock the mechanic in the workshop, raise the car on the platform to scare the cat, which will trigger a chain reaction that will eventually allow us to solve the quest.

And is that bad? No – it's just an inherent feature of the genre. But if you are less than 30 years old, and you would like to see what the phenomenon looked like exactly – be warned, there is a specific logic of the world in adventure games that needs to be discovered and figured out. Not everyone will like it, because doing thing in games because it's possible (as opposed to because you know the effect it will have) can be frustrating.

Interestingly, this logic even seems to amuse the creators themselves – I often got the impression that the main protagonist was aware of all the absurdity. He even breaks the fourth wall a few times. Nathan is also a sort of sociopath. He has almost no empathy (apart from having feelings for his girlfriend, he actually has no feelings for anyone else), and he's often malevolent. At some point, he even leads to someone's death. How does Nathan react? He doesn't. So, who are we in this game? One of the things cyberpunk is for is asking questions about our modern world.

Brave, new world

There's a surprising number of biomes to visit.

I finished VirtuaVerse with a feeling of satisfaction. Although I've been stuck a few times, and even bored for a while, the cyberpunk hacker vibe, the references to the world of retro technology and demoscenes were enough to keep me going. Great music and brilliant backgrounds only made the journey more pleasant. By the way – the default sound settings in the game are a bit oblivious to any sound other than music. One can even get the impression that the game is mute – and this is not true, as in addition to the sound of wind or rain, there are even footsteps. You will not hear these sounds, however, unless you curb the volume of the music.

During your twisted journey, there will also be some really fun and witty dialogues. You will laugh, and be surprised, because Nathan – as I mentioned – is not an obvious hero. The plot itself, while not changing the conventions of Cyberpunk or etching into science fiction history, is correct and fun as well. It is a typical story of saving the world from technology, behind which there's either government or something even more dangerous. Is VirtuaVerse a good way to reinvent the adventure genre? Well... It's certainly a way. But the game's ambition is not to revolutionize the genre. It's to perfectly recreate it.

Matthias Pawlikowski | Gamepressure.com

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