Ahead you will find a review of a scary game by a guy who jumps at scary games.
Master Reboot is a wonderful example of why indie games should never be overlooked, especially since this one has one of the freshest and most interesting ideas I’ve seen in a long time. This “psychological horror” title is one game that is bound to keep your attention for hours.
The main reason why Master Reboot stands out from its other gaming peers is the endlessly interesting world it creates. Throughout the game, you play as some lost individual in the Soul Cloud, essentially a repository where people can upload their memories, and in essence, their lives. What this does is make the social effects of death moot, as friends and family can link up to the Soul Cloud and interact with their loved ones whenever they want, even from beyond the grave.
This world provides the impetus for the plot, as you maneuver your way through people’s memories, but eventually end up sought after as a virus. In fact, this Soul Cloud provides a fantastic medium through which Master Reboot makes a seamless integration between narrative and gameplay. Indeed, you literally solve puzzles inside people’s memories. This sort of integration between gameplay and narrative is always something I love to see in video games, as it really helps me get into games that much faster, avoiding the anomie that comes with mindless action.
Master Reboot is described by its developer, Wales Interactive, as a “psychological horror” game, which may be a little bit of an overstatement. The game isn’t quite so horrifying as it is eerie. Nevertheless, there are horror-inducing points, just don’t expect them at every twist and turn. Without a doubt however, the Soul Cloud is one eerie world. Given its purpose of keeping relationships alive despite death, the world is quite desolate and you’re always aware of this. While the environments do look nice, there’s a certain dreariness to it all: it’s quite clear how drained of life this world is. Even in the midst of cold, lifeless environments, you’re likely to come across some rubber ducks (yup) that contain happy and cheery memoirs of the lives they recount. It’s a great little bit of choice to include on the part of the developers, as these happy memories contrast so well with their cold environments that you can’t help but feel like there’s something incredibly wrong with this world you’re exploring. These feelings of being unsetted that the Soul Cloud invokes are certainly engaging and will keep you moving forward.
The puzzles were quite enjoyable and often varied. Few, if any puzzle elements were repeated over the course of the game, so every puzzle felt fresh and new. As you move along solving puzzles, you have to avoid being taken out by Seren, the Soul Cloud’s anti-virus system who is intent on eliminating the virus it perceives you to be. Avoiding her is often what spices up the puzzle system, as instead of you just solving puzzles, you’re solving puzzles while trying to simultaneously survive. Nevertheless, Seren doesn’t take away from the puzzles, as they are, in and of themselves, quite fun. Not even the “easy” ones are so easy as to not make you put a little bit of mental elbow grease to work.
The biggest problem with Master Reboot is it can sometimes be a bit confusing and have an odd difficulty spike. The game is one that really makes players figure things out on their own. While most puzzles can be solved with a bit of effort, there were a few that were just absolutely mind-boggling. So much so that, when I finally figured out what needed to have been done, I just sat there saying to myself “you have got to be kidding me.” And while most of the time, you have at least something of an idea of what needs to be done, there were a couple where I had to meander about the memory aimlessly just hoping an action icon would appear because it was just that difficult to see what needed to be done. Even from as early as the tutorial, there was little instruction on how to do anything, I simply had to prod along and hit random keys until the desired action actually happened. Nothing a little trial-and-error couldn’t solve, but still, as a tutorial, this is the point when the game ought to feel accessible to players. Thankfully, these spots of confusion were few and far between, but existent nevertheless.
All in all, Master Reboot is a wonderful display of the creativity and ingenuity that exists in the indie world. It even runs perfectly well on a mid-ranged PC, so don’t think you need a strong PC to run it. Fun gameplay, interesting puzzles, and a refreshing new concept lasting approximately 8 hours make Master Reboot undoubtedly worth the $15 it costs on Steam.
[+Refreshing concept] [+Eerie atmosphere] [+Integration between gameplay and narrative] [+Innovative puzzles] [-Confusion and difficulty spike]