Review: Traverser

As I have it mentioned some time ago, translating is not everything, therefore I decided to do something different today, i.e. a review of a computer game. I have chosen a particular puzzle game in post-apocalyptic/steampunkish setting. The game’s called Traverser. Did I enjoy it? Did I enjoy walking through underground city of Brimstone? You will find out from reading the review. 


The sun died unexpectedly, and with it so did the mankind. The very few who survived decided to hide underground where they founded a city of Brimstone, over which a Raven Coproration took control. I must stop here for a second. Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t it slightly inspired by cyberpunk novels? The ones with huge corporations taking control over the world? That’s exactly the same situation: the Raven Corporation is controlling people (for their sake of course), threatening them to cut their supply of fresh air, the most valuable resource in Brimstone. This obviously leads to uprising outbreaks leaded by the Resistance. The storyline seemed good enough, I must admit that. So, our main character is Valerie Bennet, a young girl living with her father, Linus, in the Upper City. Her lifelong dream is to become a Traverser, that is a peacekeeper traversing through the Upper and the Lower City. The game starts not so long before a special exam is to take place. As Valerie we’re going to the headquarters of Raven Corporation to pass the test with flying colours. Then we recieve the most important item in the game, i.e. the Gravity Glove, the symbol of a traverser. Our happy protagonist heads back home, only to discover her father missing. She decides to use the pair of new gloves to search for her apparently kidnapped dad. As you can see, the plot isn’t really innovative, fresh or anything in that way. Actually, that theme of a young girl looking for her father reminds me of a game I had translated in the past, mainly Whispering Willows. I presume that if one were to make books based on these games, we would have two young adult fiction novels. Even if from the very beginning I suspected how Traverser will end and who will be that evil guy, it didn’t ruin the fun. I believe that early adolescents (maybe even older kids as well?) would enjoy this type of game.

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The storyline isn’t everything, so now let me tell you about the gameplay. But beforehand I should mention that Traverser is a puzzle game with strong stealth and platformer elements. Each trait is important, so let’s discuss them one by one.
Firstly, the puzzles. So, our main character has got a special glove allowing her to lift or rotate different objects. With that gadget she can now reach normally unaccessable boxes, move rocks out of her way or turn special mirrors to redirect the beam of laser. Usually, it’s all about putting some objects in right places, although sometimes there are some reflex based puzzles, a fine example are boss fights (yes, there are few in this game). Overall, the puzzles are not really challenging, a mediocre player (not too casual and not too hardcore) would figure it out rather quickly. Our glove isn’t that great either, it could get more abilities, because just lifting objects isn’t enough. In my opinion, there should be an option to change difficulty level, so both casual and hardcore players would be content.
Alright, so there are some puzzles there but what about stealth? Normally, it is Raven Corp security who we’re hiding from. They’re not the smartest guys on the Earth, so sneaking isn’t really difficult. We can always use our glove to make some distraction or wear a special barrel (if we find one) to trick the security system, the guards and the lasers. Unfortunately, you cannot move or rotate your camera, so sometimes it’s difficult to see what’s behind the corner. In most of cases it’s fine and you can see perfectly the guards but yeah, there were few exceptions, like sneaking through a mansion. Oh, and speaking of camera (it is also related to controls as well), one of the boss fights was incredibly frustrating. Basically, you’re supposed to lift some sticks of dynamite up to the ceiling where a source of light is located. I had to jump and move my mouse in all directions to lit it, what was difficult, as the boss could one-hit me, restarting the entire fight. So yeah, I was rather pissed of after about 30 minutes of such fight.

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Now, onto the platform elements. There isn’t too much to talk about, really. Yeah, we are often supposed to find some crates and put one on the another to reach high areas. Sometimes we might need to swing suspended boxes only to quickly jump on them when they’re in the right position to proceed. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t say that Traverser requires agility or a reflex.
There are also some other mechanics, as fighting (if I can call it that way) or collectables. I believe that on each level you may find some notes to pick up or special flying robots with recorded messages to catch. Moreover, there are some achievements as well. I believe it might prolong your adventure, which is unfortunately rather short. I completed the game (not in 100%, as I don’t feel like collecting each tiny item) in about 4-5 hours. So if you like long-lasting games with huge replayability value, then I’ve got some bad news for you.
Very well then, that was all about the gameplay. So, how about the artstyle and the graphics? Let me put it that way, if you expected some hyper-realistic graphics I have some bad news. To me Traverser looks fine and just fine. You can clearly see and feel that steampunk atmosphere, that poverty of citizens of Brimstone. I enjoyed playing Traverser, despite it being short. Checking each room, each possible corner was really fun. Yeah, the locations were rather empty but I understand that, it’s not like an underground city built after a natural disaster would prosper and have as many people as, let’s say, NYC. So yeah, I really like the locations, especially the interiors of Raven Corporation. Everything seemed rather fine and in its place. The city divided into the two districts, one for the rich (the Upper City) and one for the poor (the Lower City) seems realistic, although I still wish there were more things to do. Yeah, I know, perhaps I whine and criticise too much but I really wish the game was longer and more diverse. Perhaps they will improve these aspects in another game? The ending suggests that it’s not over, so we might get a sequel, or even better, a prequel. That would be fun, the beginning of the end, foundation of Brimstone, taking control by Raven Corporation… Please, make it happen!
The last thing to describe is audio. The sound effects are rather fine, the soundtrack wasn’t memorable (if there were any?) and the voices of characters are fine but just fine, nothing special (sometimes they lacked emotions, but that’s my opinion). So yeah, job done properly but that’s all.

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So how’s the Traverser overall? In my opinion, it’s a perfect game to be played on dreary, rainy, autumn evenings. Besides, I believe this title is just for younger players, as more ‚demanding’ ones may get a little disappointed. Nevertheless, it’s worth giving it a shot. If I were to give this game a grade, it would be probably… 6,5/10. It’s not a bad game, not too average but at the same time it’s not fantastic. Traverser is a pleasant production to be played for 3-4 hours. Wait for a good deal and get it, that’s my advice.

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