The Uncertain: Last Quiet Day
I picked up The Uncertain: Last Quiet Day because it looked like a great mix of cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic. You start out as a robot just trying to go about life, creating tools for the workshops of other people. It is the only robot, that you know of, that is very intrigued by what happened to the human race. After completing an odd job or two a strange thing occurs and you are quickly thrust into being on the run from the authorities and in the thick of a state hidden secret.
What I really enjoyed was the intro and the little bit of exposition you get. It details what the robots are told happened to humans by the government. The problem that the robot you play sees is that everyone around it is beginning to become more human. That is not only troublesome because it makes little sense but it leads to a path of death and extinction. The story had me hooked.
Then the game finally gets into the swing of things and you are able to move around a little more and your choices begin to open up. This is where things get into the mediocre. I do not expect an indie title to have AAA quality controls, graphics, etc. However, I do expect some sort of QA on them. The Uncertain: Last Quiet Day was like stepping back into the mid-1990’s. The camera angles and controls are similar to Resident Evil or the early 3D Sonic games. When the camera angle changes, and they will in some strange spots, you will start walking whatever the new direction is. So, if you are walking straight down a hallway and the camera switches from one end of the hall to the other you are now walking back down the hall the way you came. It’s incredibly frustrating. Plus, I felt like an idiot half of the time with my character just running into a couch, wall, or whatever. The controls are stiff and you can kind of walk at an angle but most of the time if feels more like you can only walk in the four directions otherwise crazy camera problems show up.
The controls really ate into the fun but the worst, for me, was the constant narration. You could be hearing the phone ring and your character will say, “the phone is ringing, I should answer it.” Or it shows a door opening after throwing a switch and your character has to say, “I think the door is now open.” Why!? You literally just showed a cut scene of the door opening. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It is incessant and inescapable. The story points are good and it did make me want to continue to see where it was going but the dialogue is just as bad as the narration. About thirty minutes into the game you end up being brought to a hospital due to damage you sustained during your rescue. But you do not know that as you can’t really remember what happened and no one really says anything to you. Then a doctor comes in and tells that you cannot leave because you know to much. No, I don’t, I lost part of my memory to being zapped and you have yet to tell me what the hell is going on. After that the doctor then explains to you what the place is and what is going on. All that had to be done was swap the dialogue, then at least I could say it made logical sense.
I enjoyed the graphics; they are colorful and yet dingy because aesthetics isn’t logical to robots. There are a few sections where the screen had v-sync problems and a fuzziness to the screen. I am honestly not sure if it was my PC or if this was a design choice. I changed around the graphical settings to see if it fixed the issue and it didn’t. I am assuming it is a style choice when moving between a scene and cutscene. I really enjoyed the neon lighting through out the city streets and all of the hover vehicles have bright pops of color on them. It seems weird because it isn’t a gaudy amount of neon, just enough to be logical. It felt both pretty and robotic. Otherwise it is your standard point and click world. Similar to the 90’s Sierra puzzle games but just cleaned up and modernized.
The puzzle and exploration aspects of the game are good. Unlike a lot of these types of games the puzzles at least made sense. There wasn’t any obscure thing like having to tape an apple to a stick that you hurl into a tree because some bird wants it. Last Quiet Day saves you from that and you just throw the apple to the creature that wants it. There is no searching for tape, stick, and the apple and just randomly trying to combine things until that happens. Early on you have to calibrate a torch you just finished and you have to select shapes that will add up to a square. That makes 100% sense and you almost intuitively figure it out. I did fail because I was distracted by something and missed the explanation of what I was doing. I thought I was trying to match the symbols and no two are the same. The puzzles of course get harder and in some cases the game even lets you figure it out without narrating everything every second. While the exploration is nice, most of the time you cannot pick an item up that you may need later just so the game can send you back to an area to find the piece you already saw. This was a problem throughout the entire game too. I hate having to back track only for the sake of it. It makes sense in certain games where you have to attain a new ability or item. In The Uncertain you can't even pick up loose batteries without the quest line first.
On the whole I would rate the game as middling. There is nothing special here and while I was playing it was wishing that Sierra was back or that Daedalic had a new game out. The atmosphere is great, I really love the cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic mixture. Humanity being wiped out due to our own idiocy makes sense and machines taking over the ruins of our civilization makes rational sense. Robots are efficient so why fix something if it isn’t broken. The story beats are good but almost everything between is mediocre to nonsensical. Puzzles are well done and fun, I was really happy that they made sense. The constant narration is enough to drive a person mad. It is free on Steam, for the moment, so while I won’t exactly recommend it, I would say give it a go for free. Who knows you may find all of my gripes endearing…