Warp puts you in the body of Zero, an alien that looks strangely similar to a Heartless from Kingdom Hearts dressed up in a peanut costume. During what seems to be a routine experiment, Zero breaks free from his confinement with the help of a mysterious guiding voice and sets off to escape from his sub-aquatic prison. As with most escape missions, there are the usual mandatory pit stops to acquire new abilities.
Like most games this generation, there are a number of extra collectables scattered around the world of Warp. Film canisters and grubs are found throughout the game’s numerous levels, sometimes requiring a bit of backtracking to collect. The former type doesn’t seem to provide much, other than a way for trophy hunters to prove their mettle, while the latter collectible set serves as currency to upgrade the protagonist’s abilities. Grubs serve as markers for most of the game’s difficult puzzles, but those that are worried about a full 100% completion rate can rest easy knowing there’s an upgrade that puts every collectable up on your map. For an added challenge, there are a number of extra challenge missions hidden throughout the levels. Available from the main menu after the game has been completed, each one showcases a particular power with the top times posted to an online leaderboard.
The first of Zero’s abilities, the titular warp, allows you phase through thin walls and doors. Most objects, living or not, are also subject to warping. Wiggle the analog stick enough to either mildly stun or crank it up to full and whatever you’re currently possessing explodes in the most volatile fashion possible. I’m relieved that the developers didn’t go for the alternative method of shaking the controller, as those tacked-on motion control gimmicks are thankfully behind the PS3 generation.
Beyond just being able to warp in and out of objects, Zero finds himself host to a slew of other abilities as the game progresses. Echo sends out a projection, or mirror-image, typically used for grabbing a soldier’s attention while you navigate around him. The other two abilities, swap and launch, don’t vary too much from their naming conventions, but their abilities are going to be mandatory for anyone wanting to see the little guy’s escape attempt through until its end.
At first I wondered why a game like Warp would have an M rating. Surely there couldn’t be anything wrong with such a cute little alien, even if the scientists seem to have plenty of hired grunts who wish to put some holes in him. Soon after, I discovered that Zero’s warp could be used to transfer into not only empty barrels but just about any enemy around. Once inside, it was only a few shakes before any object, animated or not, reached its breaking point and exploded. Before long, the walls were painted red with the blood of every enemy soldier or scientist I came across.
Beyond the ludicrous gibs and gallons of blood shed across the screen, there really isn’t anything amazing to note about the graphics. They’re functional and suitable for a secret underwater laboratory. Nothing about the layout or level design really seems to stand out with the exception of the occasional tube Zero must slide through to travel from one side of a level to another. While backtracking may be somewhat mandatory, getting lost never seems to be much of an issue. A handy map is only a button press away and the aforementioned map upgrades can help to pick out where any collectables or upcoming objectives may be hiding.
Being categorized as a stealth-puzzle game seems to put Warp in a league of its own. This individual experience is thankfully stronger on the puzzle side to compensate for the weaker stealth side. The stealth aspect feels limited with an AI that shoots just about anything that seems out of the ordinary before wandering over to the scene of carnage like an awe-struck fool. Thankfully, these enemies can be exploded for their incompetence. However, those going for a more peaceful route will be rewarded with a trophy for not killing a single enemy.
In addition to an eccentric military leader that wants nothing more than to see you put down, Warp‘s few key characters all seem to have their own ideas for what to do with you. Many of the run-of-the-mill enemies encountered carry on their own bit of banter whenever they’re not fearing for their lives. The immersion might be lost once you realize it’s one of only a couple of guys talking the entire time, but it’s rather amusing to hear the same fellow barking orders back and forth with himself. Most of the experience is narrated by a mysterious voice than wants to help you escape, giving simple justifications as to why you should go explore the other parts of the lab for one upgrade or another.
Not once did I feel a puzzle was too challenging or abstract. If I got stuck, it was due to my own poor execution and not placing my warp jumps properly. While checkpoints are abundant, there remain a few puzzles that can incite frustration from poor warping skills. Warp stands as a fine example of how trial and error can guide you through just about any puzzle thrown your way.
With its modestly long experience and optional challenge maps, Warp offers a good challenge for its $9.99 price tag. While there are some technical flaws, particularly with the enemy AI, these can be overlooked with the simple joys of exploding your frustrations away.
This review is based on the PlayStation Network version game, which we were provided for review purposes.
With its modestly long experience and optional challenge maps, Warp offers a good challenge for its $9.99 price tag.