Warp Review

This generation of puzzler fans have been saturated with sugar, with many a game featuring cute graphics and smiling happy times. Well if you’re looking something different, why not try Warp? This new top-down adventure puzzler offered by Trapdoor sees a deceptively adorable alien named Zero attempt to escape a secret laboratory. As the name suggests, the key game mechanic is the ability to warp short distances – through walls, into objects and well… people.

It’s worth noting that this game is certainly not for children as Zero avoids lasers and armed guards, comes across captured creature carcasses and blows things and people up – from the inside. The juxtaposition of the jovially gelatinous Zero blasting out of a person in a rain of blood is a jarring and warped component of the game. A word of the wise to my scientists friends, if you buy this game for your children not only will they be traumatized, but they will never, ever let you go to work again.

Developer: Trapdoor
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: XBLA (Reviewed)
Players: Single-Player
Genre: Action & Adventure, Platformer, Puzzle & Trivia
Release: February 15th, 2012

Warp begins through the eyes of Zero as he slips in and out of consciousness; dragged into a secret underwater facility he is experimented upon by nefarious scientists. The view changes and the puzzles begin, as you work your way through a series of scientific tests before regaining your stolen alien powers, then it is time to enact revenge, rescue your fellow aliens and escape!

The game’s puzzles focus (unsurprisingly) upon your various warp abilities; progressing to the next section may involve warping to move through walls, into items, to avoid lasers, explode enemies, swap yourself with far-away items and more. Your short-distance warping and short-legged waddling are not the only means of travel however, as the the laboratory in which you are imprisoned provides a maze of corridors, conveyor belts, cranes, water-shoots and shafts through which you can wander.

While wandering the world of Warp you will find yourself traversing treacherous test rooms, warping through maintenance areas complete with conveyor belts and compactors, and even zipping down water-shoots between floors while jellyfish stream past. The maps themselves are quite linear however, with only one way to progress and corners for collectibles. It would have been interesting to see the game’s stealth aspect expanded upon to allow for options of how to access an area, however it does not destroy the gameplay offered. Overall Trapdoor have managed to keep the game’s environments interesting while creating the sense of an immense but hidden prison.

  

On a side note, I feel the combination of waterslides running between floors
while massive whales swim around them is a serious health and safety risk,
but I do suppose the scientist have more urgent matters at hand.

In addition to finding your fellow martians, one must also search for collectable ‘grubs’; these delicious critters are irresistible to aliens but also act as your ticket to upgrades. Zero uses these odd little snacks to better his warping abilities, plus there are skills earned from assisting imprisoned aliens. Not only can grubs be found floating throughout the facility, they are also the prize for successfully completing challenge nodes – your skills, speed and finesse are rewarded with a grub for each skill level (bronze, silver or golden).

Once a challenge node is found in the game’s story, it is then available anytime from the main menu. Throughout the game they offer a pleasant change of pace and can be both demanding and addictive. Both the challenges and story mode incorporate leaderboards that allow you to revel in your successes or alternatively strive to surpass scores set by friends or superior players. In challenges the leaderboard displays your best time compared to your friends or the best of the best, while the story mode compares interesting aspects such as total number of warps, distance travelled and humans exploded.

 

The plight of alien Zero is both compelling and disturbing as you warp, sneak and explode your way to freedom. It is worth mentioning the game can at times be marred by camera and control issues, but overall the gameplay is entertaining and the style engaging. It’s a shame there is not more freedom to explore or customise your attack plan, but one can hope for an expanded world if a sequel crashes to earth. If you want to test your brain but tire of smily, saccharine worlds then this game is for you.

Warp is available now on Xbox Live Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points. It’s also a part of the House Party promotion – buy all four games in the pack and get 800 points back. Keep an eye out for the other House Party games coming up; I Am Alive, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare and Nexuiz.

7.0 – Good. Entertaining but is held back by a couple of flaws. It will certainly capture its intended audience but it won’t appeal to everyone.

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