Insert Joke about the iCloud Stealing your Soul
Review written by
July 31st, 2014
I'm beginning to notice a pattern among indie games as of late, that is, they always have a stellar, original, and memorable concept with less-than-stellar execution of said idea. Don't get me wrong, I play more indie games these days than I do in-store releases; I'd play Need For Weed 3D any day over Dead Space 3, as I would Bromancy Saga 2 over MW3. And yet, it still saddens me to see so many independents fall flat of fully developing their idea when it comes time to put their noses to the grindstone and actually create their latest opus. Master Reboot, I'm sorry to say, is a picture-perfect example of this phenomenon, point for point.
First of all, we have a stand-out, creative concept: in the future, we have developed a system known as the 'Soul Cloud', which people's souls can, upon death, be uploaded into, and said people can then relive all of their most treasured memories and chat with their living and dead relatives at any time. More than a bit far-fetched, to say the least, but it does open some interesting possibilities to explore human nature; our fear of death, the meaning of our existence, the psychological effects that might occur within the mind of someone living the same events of their life over and over again - truly, it could have been something intelligent and, dare I say, of incredible artistic merit.
BUT SCREW THAT NOISE! LET'S MAKE THE MEMORIES CORRUPTED AND SCARY AND PUT LITTLE FATAL FRAME GIRLS EVERYWHERE! JUMP-SCARES! UNNECESSARILY DARK LIGHTING! GLOWING EYES! #2SCARY4ME!
This game may be startling at certain times, yet at no point did I feel actually like I was inside a cloud where I was free to experience my character's most impactful memories. Hell, sometimes I forgot I was even playing a horror game. What's worse is that, however fresh and original it may appear on the exterior, Master Reboot is basically a technology-themed rip-off of Silent Hill.
You start off knowing little about your character, though you soon begin to learn he/she has had a rough life and serious issues she needs to work through. You end up where you started out of ill circumstance, particularly from a vehicular crash. The game takes you through areas that require the character to face a twisted version of their past, where the enemies fit the theme of the location and vaguely-defined puzzles stand in the way of your freedom. The monsters are not meant to be fought, for the most part, and the boss battles require more than simple hack-and-slash strategy, resembling Zelda combat more than the traditional meat-grinder fare. Oh, and the evil force after you occasionally likes to take the form of a little girl. Given this description, I honestly wouldn't be able to tell which game was being discussed.
I like Silent Hill-style psychological horror, and I'm not judging this game for being similar to Konami's franchise. However, everything it 'borrows' from Silent Hill, like the memories of our less-than-one-dimensional protagonist, is contorted into something worse than the original product. Whereas Silent Hill was all one town, which added layers to the atmosphere and gave the sensation that the player could never truly escape the horrors he/she was faced with, Master Reboot has a non-threatening hub world and locked-off stages that can be exited at any time, as well as consequence-free respawns directly afterwards (minus the myriad loading screens, which are thankfully not longer than about five seconds on the whole).
Whereas the clunky controls in Silent Hill added to the panic and inability of the player to retaliate against what they were facing, the controls in Master Reboot are frustrating when trying to accomplish basic tasks but generally smooth in dangerous situations. Where Silent Hill's monsters were varied, disturbing and frightening in their own right, Master Reboot only has slight variations on the Dark-Elf-looking little girl from the title screen, and has to compensate with numerous (and obvious) jump scares.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, where S.H. had three-dimensional characters, relatable motivations, and realistic reactions, Master Reboot substitutes in a confusing background, a lackluster protagonist, and somehow fails to even deliver the cliches it so often utilizes in its jumbled mess of a mythos.
Graphics-wise, there's little to speak of. The art style fits with the visual limitations, for the most part, but this can get a bit childish at times, which is the LAST thing anyone should want in a horror game. For example, how can I feel scared when the enemy chasing me is a giant glowing teddy bear waddling around like a penguin after a hard kick to Johnson and the juice crew?
It's not the worst indie game I've ever played by a long shot, yet I can't help but feel just a tad melancholy to see what could quite truthfully have been the next Amnesia: The Dark Descent turn out to be a generic, forgettable experience, half-heartedly copying other successful titles rather than tapping into its own enormous potential.
And so, Master Reboot will likely join other titles like Stalked and the millions of Slender clones on the Internet. Until next time.
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