Much like the game itself, I’m not entirely sure where to begin with a proper review of the latest Steam-based PC port of a mobile game that may have best been left in the world of mobile, Cypress Inheritance: The Beginning. I’ll admit that my experience with the game is a bit shorter than I’d normally prefer for review purposes, but it’s not entirely for lack of trying. Touting itself as ‘realistic, non-tutorial action/RPG’, what Cypress Inheritance really seems to be trying to do is something like the old exploration games in the lineage of Myst and Riven, but what it ends up delivering is a morass of slow-loading, confusing, directionless play that never compels you to do anything in particular, and makes finding your way more of a chore than a journey.
The story of Cypress Inheritance: The Beginning kicks off with our protagonist, Lorna, explaining that, as an adoptee, she’s spent a lot of time seeking information about her birth family. From there, we’re “introduced” to an off-screen ‘stranger’, who apparently knows a great deal about Lorna, her family, and her grandfather who’s gone missing in particular. The voice-over explains some generic details roughly boiling down to the fact that this missing grandfather was a friend of his, and a weird recluse who lived on an AI-controlled island of his own design. For whatever reason, we learn that the military wishes to destroy the island but, due to the connections this mysterious inventor had within their organizations, they’ve ‘agreed’ to delay the obliteration of it all for three days, giving Lorna and her shadowy benefactor that time to attempt to extract some particularly valuable pieces from his (art?) collection on the island, to which only Lorna has access, courtesy of the blood running through her veins. Of course, it won’t be that simple, since the island is controlled by an artificial intelligence that’s gone rogue since the island’s human inhabitant went and got himself gone, and it’s pretty intent on making sure not even Lorna gets to do anything in or around the remote locale.
So, after the story is glossed over in a somewhat-lengthy and uneventful cut-scene style exposition, Lorna arrives at the island and the game kicks off. From the moment you begin, the lack of direction sets in; you’re given no real objective, no push in any direction, no HUD from which to glean even the most rudimentary of information. You’re given access to a health pack (but no indication of your health), a limited-use stun gun with no ammunition readout, and a couple of difficult-to-control ATVs that don’t serve much purpose beyond being able to move faster. The “no tutorial” kicks in to high gear, and I spent several minutes simply trying to figure out how I might pick up the scant resources I was provided.
Finally, armed and ready, I hopped into an ATV, which I managed to crash into a tree roughly half a mile down the road with no way to recover it. Struggling to find a way to get it righted, I encountered my first enemy: a robotic ‘knight’ of some sort that immediately began blasting me with it’s own stun gun that stopped me from reacting in any way as it marched toward me, firing repeatedly in case I got the idea that maybe I should do something. When it reached me, I was given a brief black screen followed by waking up (I think) in a small stone cell, the door to which was conveniently locked from the inside by one of the bio-feedback devices that opens because Lorna is a Cypress. I wandered out into a cave, searching for anywhere to go and eventually being recaptured by another robo-knight. Rinse and repeat this process several times.
The real downfall of Cypress Inheritance: The Beginning is hard to pin down. Long load times (despite dated graphics), dull gameplay, and complete lack of direction are fighting for the top spot, along with slow, unresponsive controls and a void of information in-game or on-screen. What could be a fun exploration of an island becomes a plodding trek in the dark wondering just when one of the island’s identical robots will put an end to whatever you’re doing and return you to your cave cell, and occasional “tips” that dominate the screen with no clear purpose and which can’t be closed except by continuing to wander aimlessly along take away from what could be an immersive environment.
The game’s dragging pace and total failure to give even the lightest push towards any kind of objective left me lost and bored rather than curious, and since any attempt to begin exploring simply ended as I was steamrolled by generic foes, it was impossible for me to conjure up any desire to keep trying as the failures piled up. I feel like the story could be intriguing if I could actually wind up finding out where it happens or how I’m supposed to be a part of it, but with such a hot mess of mind-numbing dross to cut through on the way, I wasn’t able to discover the motivation necessary to keep on trying. With a $29.99 price tag on Steam, I’d definitely shy away from recommending this title – especially since it’s available at a much lower price on mobile devices, where it may find a more suitable home.
[+Interesting sounding story] [-Bland graphics] [-Slow, boring gameplay] [-Confusing and uninteresting lack of direction] [-Terrible unresponsive controls] [-Unnecessarily long load times]