There’s a lot to be said about Warp Frontier – a sci-fi point and click adventure from Brawsome, that I’m not sure where to begin. Ooh – I’m having an episode! MAC, status report. [Just bloody get on with it].
Never one to have my finger on the pulse, this indie fell into my lap via the developer. Where Renée Zellweger was on her knees at “hello”, my keywords were “point and click”. According to the internet, the game came out last year on multiple platforms – this review being the Switch version.
Before we go into the story, let’s start with the interface. Warp Frontier is my idea of the perfect controls for a point and click on a console. I recently mentioned another title where I struggled with the controls on the Switch, and the system here would have been perfect.
Hotspots (and hints) can be toggled from the menu, and while they were initially overwhelming, there aren’t that many to interact with, more to do with description. Though you can skim over these, I found myself reading them all as they helped with the world-building. Not that that was needed, as the visuals are also excellent.
Still swooning over the controls, scrolling through the inventory with the shoulder buttons will indicate if an item works or not. This means you don’t have to click everything when stuck (there’s a hint system for that – one of the best I’ve ever experienced in a game). For once, inventory combinations are logical, and it doesn’t take much to work out a solution.
However, some aspects of Warp Frontier are meticulous and pose minor frustrations. Hypothetically speaking, you need to locate a key to unlock a door. After spending a reasonable amount of time going back and forth, you find the key, put it in the hole, and it unlocks. However, now something is blocking the door from opening. Hypothetical, of course. This doesn’t happen in the game, but a few scenes felt like that.
Sometimes I found myself a little lost, so tried the hint system – something I rarely do – not because I’m that good, but hint systems are precisely that and often tell you what you already know. The hint system in Warp Frontier is an answer system if you aren’t too careful and will give you the solution to a puzzle. On the upside, you’re never stuck. On the downside, temptation sucks when you have a pile of games to get through. Yes, I used the feature a handful of times and take ownership.
It’s all very well talking about the mechanics, but what about the story? This has me on the fence. On one side is, I really liked it; on the other side of the fence, I didn’t completely get it. Not a negative then? No, not really. The story is clear: sci-fi wars and corruption. We’ll leave it hanging as I don’t want to spoil it. You play Vince ‘Tin Man’ Cassini, whom I thought was a salvage guy at first, but is a police captain.
After a shaky start with tech and consciousness and some so-so dialogue with an artist, the mystery of the game was intriguing. My only ‘complaint’ was there didn’t feel much urgency in the game or an overpowering main thread to the narrative. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but because there’s a bit of freedom to do your own thing in areas, that may have been why some of the narrative was hazy. Besides, there are multiple endings.
That said, I was utterly engrossed when playing. It’s worth noting that Warp Frontier is a very nice looking game and, in many ways, reminded me of a Wadjet Eye Games production. There’s even a director’s commentary here, and if it weren’t for time, I’d have devoured this already but genuinely looking forward to this as much as Strangeland or Primordia.
The relationship between Vince and his droid reminded me a little of the latter, as well as Beyond a Steel Sky, but without the humour. It’s not that Warp Frontier is rigid and takes itself too seriously, it’s just not like the common point and click of in-jokes, quips and slapstick, and that works in its favour.
So, thoughts? I enjoyed this game, and as mentioned, it’s the benchmark for user interfaces on consoles – especially the Switch. Warp Frontier feels very polished, has decent voice acting, and a story opens up the more you dive. Once Steam Next Fest finishes, I’ll experiment with some of the paths to unlock other endings and already have an inkling on where to start on the next playthrough.
For once, I won’t default to the PC version of a point and click: Warp Frontier on the Switch is excellent.