Warp, put simply, is a lot of fun. Which in this industry is an ingredient often lost in the hundreds of titles released every year. These days, games have become something of a grander affair; now developers strive for multi-layered storylines and deep character customisation.
Games are bigger now, more bombastic, filling disk space with countless, life-consuming hours of gameplay. Of course, these developments are a good thing, a natural evolution in the ever expanding videogame market. But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s nice to sit down and play something you know doesn’t demand fifty hours of your life to complete. Warp, the newest release from newly-EA-acquired developer Trapdoor fits that void like a dream.
Taking some of its cues from the style and tone of Valve’s ground-breaking Portal series, Warp is a 3D top-down puzzle-cum-platformer that uses its own special ‘gimmick’. And as much as the comparison with something as fiercely popular as Portal can be something of a poison chalice, Trapdoor’s arcade platformer does pretty well to set itself apart.
You play the unfortunate Zero, a pint-sized extra-terrestrial whose woken up trapped in a laboratory with some not-so-nice scientists. When your human captors get a little too cocky with their tests, you regain your main ability: the power to – you guessed it – warp. Essentially, this means you can teleport over short distances, pass through walls and inhabit certain objects and people as you try and make your bid for freedom.
Zero just so happens to be a being of pure energy, so when you warp inside a barrel or person you can spin the thumb stick to create a satisfying mini-supernova that paints the floor and walls with shrapnel and/or bodily remains. It’s this addition of gore that feels strangely at home in the otherwise cartoon-style presentation. The bright, sterile corridors and vibrant use of light and shadow seem to complement the comedic paint-splats of ultra-violence. With an achievement for bursting a corpse, this game is more than comfortable with its dark sense of humour.
Not all the NPCs in Warp are cowering scientists, so the introduction of gun-toting soldiers and turrets forces you to adapt your play style. The warp power isn’t as godlike as it sounds, and until you upgrade your powers (with the scarce ‘grubs’ that act as currency littered around each section of the facility) you will only be able to teleport through thin walls and doors. Going mano-a-mano with a soldier is suicide, so Warp uses the top down view to show you the many interconnecting rooms and corridors you can use to teleport your way around a threat or tactically hunt your way to a satisfying man-boom. The upgrades range from projecting a controllable holographic copy of Zero to using that copy to hot-swap between hard to each locations, and all help add to the mayhem your unleashing.
Warp isn’t a particularly difficult game, you can beat the main campaign in around 5-6 hours. However, it is far from a walkthrough. One of the key elements that energises Warp are the many scenarios in each level that have a handful of ways to be solved. If you stray into view of an enemy or into the burning eye of a security beam, death will come a-calling and you’ll be thrown back to the last checkpoint. This reviewer found the checkpoints were always a little too far back for comfort, but the variety of problems to solve in future levels should be enough to bait most players into pushing forwards.
But it’s the challenges littered across the facility that really up the ante. Like a homage to the VR missions of Metal Gear of old, the Challenge mode simply gives you an objective and a time limit. From eliminating humans to getting from point to point, higher scores unlock more grubs to use at upgrade stations in the main story.
For under £8, Warp is a bargain. The challenge rooms alone will keep you coming back for hours to try and beat the merciless times. But if you’re looking for something with a genuine charm and character from a developer that is set for big things, pick it up on PSN , XBLA and Origin for PC now.
AK Score: 8/10