If anyone asked me to suggest a game that captured the essence of 60’s era schlock sci-fi I’d have to say Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space is the perfect embodiment of the period. Albedo is a first person adventure game that combines elements of traditional FPS, point and click adventures, and puzzle games to create a title that is a wholly unique experience. I guarantee you won’t find anything like it. What it sets out to do in terms of looks and presentation is praiseworthy in and of itself, especially considering it was all designed by one man, but the game’s clunky UI is more frustrating than it is fun.
Albedo’s story is ripped straight from the annals of b-movie 60’s sci-fi. As the player you control John T. Longy, a night watchman at a shady research facility. The game begins with the player settling in for a night of dull routine, but quickly elevates into adventure when an explosion erupts. Of course, the explosion isn’t all John has to tangle with. Creatively designed aliens with giant eyes are the game’s main antagonists, but you’ll soon find that in order to escape players will have to use their wits, and an ample amount of physics.
"I guarantee you won’t find anything like it. What it sets out to do in terms of looks and presentation is praiseworthy in and of itself, especially considering it was all designed by one man."
Early in the game John gains access to a tool that, when used, shows the future, giving players hints about how to successfully solve some of Albedo’s genuinely difficult puzzles. This is an awesome feature that creatively offers a hint system without breaking immersion and I have to praise its design choice, and the fact that it doesn’t make things too much easier. You will definitely get stumped as you go through each of Albedo’s 20 rooms. The puzzles only get harder as you progress, and I will admit there were quite a few times when I had to get online search for the answers in order to continue on. It didn’t feel like that was necessarily due to poorly designed puzzles, though. It was more of a user interface issue.
You see, whenever you enter a room John has an ability to highlight everything in it for brief periods of time. When you highlight the room, the game displays all the necessary parts to complete a puzzle, but sometimes key pieces don’t show up right away, sometimes they don’t show up at all, leaving it entirely up to the player’s keen sense of deduction in order to find the missing pieces. Though the lack of hand-holding was refreshing initially as the game progressed I found myself getting increasingly more frustrated with the UI. Other, simple actions such as combining objects and interacting with necessary puzzle pieces become a chore in and of themselves due to the HUD layout. It seems that a lot of design choices were made purely from a presentation standpoint and not necessarily from a gameplay one, and this game could have really benefitted from some improved gameplay mechanics.
"I can only recommend Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space to select amount of people. Patience is required and exploration isn’t an option."
Graphically the title is quite beautiful. Lighting effects really enhance the game’s total look, and the fluidity of motion in the aliens is a sight to behold. The game certainly won’t cause many jaws to drop, but when you consider how much work a one-man team put into this it’s really quite impressive. Glowing green ooze, fluid water, and particle effects all contribute to the title’s overall 60’s b-movie atmosphere, and in that sense the game is very successful.
I can only recommend Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space to select amount of people. Patience is required and exploration isn’t an option. Each room must be scoured from top to bottom in order to find success, and that is something that will probably turn a lot of players off. But, those that stick with it will find a rewarding puzzle experience that manages to have more success than failure in spite of its incredibly clunky UI. It’s not perfect, but Albedo is more than enough for me to want to keep my eye on what Merge Games does in the future.
Review by: Palmer Sturman | Reviewed on: PC