Gemini: Heroes Reborn on PlayStation 4
There are a lot of knee-jerk reactions that gamers have to phrases like “officially licensed” and “based on the TV series,” and unfortunately, most of them aren’t positive. Gemini: Heroes Reborn, a prequel tie-in to the NBC series, had me feeling pretty on the fence as I approached this review. My reservations weren’t exactly laid to rest by the game’s introductory level, but I pressed on and found some good amongst the low expectations.
Gemini: Heroes Reborn plays an interesting role in its relation to the series it ties in with. Players don’t take on the role of any of the series’ characters, instead stepping into the shoes of a young woman named Cassandra. Exploring a ruined laboratory of sorts with her friend, Alex, Cassie finds herself suddenly drawn into the world of “Evos” — humans gifted with strange and incredible superpowers.
From a design standpoint, Gemini: Heroes Reborn is somewhere between what you might expect from a small-team indie developer and a more well-known AAA studio. Built on the Unreal 4 Engine, the graphics are solid and the character design is pretty well-done. While the character movements and enemy AI could certainly stand to see improvement, I’ve played games with worse examples of each of these.
The story that builds through Gemini is largely predictable and unremarkable. The characters are relatively flat and one-dimensional, though the voice acting is passable and the writing is probably on par with your average prime-time TV show. Even without having followed the Heroes Reborn series that it ties in with, I was clearly able to recognize a number of heavy-handed references to both that show, and to the earlier and more successful original, Heroes.
Gemini: Heroes Reborn owes much of its gameplay inspiration to titles that used similar ideas in probably better ways. The most obvious comparisons to me are likely BioShock and Mirror’s Edge, both of which lend different parts of themselves to the game’s design. Cassandra’s natural time-manipulation abilities are somewhat unique in their function, outside of the “slow time” power which has certainly graced many games prior.
Beyond her ability to slow time around herself, Cassandra has a pretty cool power to shift between two different periods within time, and to peek in at the other period from where (and when) she’s standing. Early on, a found item imbues our heroine with telekinetic powers, as well, rounding out a pretty solid set of abilities that she’ll need to take on the gun-toting guards that populate both the present’s ruins and the past’s operational facility.
Highlighting the awkward and stiff characterization in Gemini: Heroes Reborn is Cassandra’s sudden transformation from a normal, everyday human to a time-travelling mind-wizard while hardly batting an eye. One minute, she’s a desperate and wounded girl who’s terrified of her friend’s fate, and the next, she’s tossing heavily-armed guards through the air with a thought as if she’d spent the last twenty years doing nothing else. There’s some ‘initial shock’ dialogue, but for the most part, she’s incredibly cavalier about the whole thing, and it’s a little off-putting.
While the characters are flat and the story offers little to no surprises, the actual play of Gemini: Heroes Reborn is pretty fun. It may not offer a whole lot that’s entirely new, but solving puzzles by shifting between the two time periods, pulling enemies across time, and tossing exploding objects at rocket-toting heavies has a certain charm. It’s only about a three to five hour investment, depending on your devotion to tracking down the hidden secrets that tie into the series, but it’s a pretty enjoyable slice of time.
Putting it all together, Gemini: Heroes reborn is a good game. It is not a great game, and there’s certainly some areas that could have used improvement, but it’s a far cry from as terrible as I’ve come to expect from TV spin-off titles or other licensed titles. Asking a fair $14.99 on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One also keeps it palatable. It may not rise to the standards of some of today’s more demanding crowds, but it’s also not asking for a $60 investment and then letting us down. If you’re a fan of the show, or have a bit of pocket money to throw at a brief, interesting diversion, it’s certainly worth taking a look at.