You might have seen the review posted on our social media or on our site and you might ask “Hey Dimi, why do you review Technobabylon, a point and click adventure developed by Technocrat and published by Wadjet Eye Games now, when it came out way back in 2015?”. And the answer my friends is that we at Hyper Light Up do not really care if a game is a recent release or if it is hyped. If we feel that a game offers a really full experience and it should get some more attention, like Technobabylon in this case, we will cover it, even if it was made for an Atari 2600 emulator.
Technobabylon is an old school point and click adventure and as such, the driving forces of it are the story, the characters and the puzzles. I will try not to spoil any of them because I believe that you should experience them for yourselves. I will give you the basic premise and hopefully you will be intrigued enough to try it.
The story takes place in the near future, in a city controlled by an advanced AI called Central. There, we find Latha, an unemployed girl living in a government provided apartment. She feels that she doesn’t belong to the world around her, referring to it as” meatspace”, so her only escape is to connect into Trance, an advanced version of our internet, more closely resembling virtual reality. There she can be whoever she wants, be her real self.
In that same city lives Charlie Regis, a CEL agent with a troubled past, working for Central. He is a technophobic and prefers doing things his own, old school way. Together with his assistant Max they investigate the killings connected to a notorious Mindjacker, a person who can connect to the minds of his victims, download information and kill them while doing so.
You will get to control all three characters as the game progresses and guide them through a story of conspiracy and unexpected discovery. At the beginning of the game you might feel that those characters don’t have anything in common. It might feel like you need to remember a lot of information for each one of them separately, but as the plot unfolds, everything will become clear and there are a few twists that might surprise you.
The gameplay of Technobabylon is exactly what you would expect from an adventure game. You can do everything with your mouse; left click to perform an action, right click to get a description for stuff in the world. At the bottom part of the screen you have access to your inventory and at the top left you have access to options where you can save your game. Make sure to right click every item you pick up and put in your inventory because some times it might not be clear what their actual use is, just a heads up.
As far as visual style goes, here we have a very detailed, intentionally low in amount of pixels, pixel art, to resemble the golden era of adventure games. To a younger audience the visual style might be off putting but don’t let that fool you, the developers paid much attention to the detail. I believe the artwork strikes a pretty good balance between making clear what the player sees (i.e.character animation) and leaving some things to the imagination. Their portraits are also very well made and offer another dimension to the faces and the personality.
I really liked the music because it does exactly what a soundtrack should do in a game like this; its ambient cyberpunk feel boosts the sci-fi atmosphere of Technobabylon and enhances the world without getting the player’s attention from what is happening on screen. It helps that the musical tracks are very good too, and you can have the soundtrack playing in the background while doing other stuff, like I did while writing this review. Special mention should go to the voice over which is very well done. The actors deliver their lines as they should and truly add to the personality, that in turn helps with the immersion. Finally, the various sound effects are pretty generic and not worthy to talk about.
Technobabylon starts a bit slow and to tell you the truth it didn’t really hook me from the first minutes. At the beginning of the game the player controls Latha and she is locked in her apartment, trying to find a way out of there. Maybe it was the enclosed space that didn’t really give me anything about the main plot, maybe it was too much information about seemingly unrelated stuff of the world, but I can say I wasn’t too thrilled. All this changed when I finally got out and the world, and the main plot started picking up.
I can definitely say that, this slow start really adds to the world building up from there. I find it refreshing when a game manages to pull me into its world, makes me learn about it by putting me in situations where everything has a reason being there. Technobabylon lets the player discover the world slowly and in the process makes them a part of it. And the puzzles that you will be called to solve are inherent to that world. You should read every description of the items you pick up because some of them have uses that work in that sci fi universe and not necessarily in our reality.
They aren’t that difficult but you should sometimes think outside the box or else you might find yourself stuck in a puzzle just because you didn’t right click on the item in your inventory. The puzzles are integrated well in every situation and will mostly require of you a normal amount of thinking in order to solve them. Some of them took me some time to solve but in no way was I frustrated or wanted to quit playing.
At the beginning of my review I mentioned three things that are important to an adventure; story, characters and puzzles. I personally pay more attention to the first two. They are the ones that really stay with me after I finish a game. Thankfully, Technobabylon excels in both of them. It has a story that unravels slowly, always interesting and with a few twists that are unexpected. The characters are very like-able, you care about them and with the work that has been done with voice overs and visual style, they become three dimensional. It is funny because I imagine the characters in my mind like actual people, and I don’t really like Regis! I mean, I don’t like his character, if I met him I probably wouldn’t hang out with him. It is a great thing when a game manages to accomplish that.
You can buy Technobabylon on Steam for the price of 14,99€.
With a very compelling sci-fi mystery story, a slow world building that draws the player in, a few unexpected twists and very like-able characters, Technobabylon manages to be another great addition to the old school point and click adventure genre. Its puzzles are well integrated and the visual style is very detailed. Its pixel art style might be off putting for some younger players but one should move past that because if you actually play it, you are in for a treat.
+ Compelling sci-fi mystery story
+ Like-able characters
+ Great cyberpunk ambient music
+ Voice over
+ The world building
+ Detailed visual style…
–…with an intentionally low quality that might be off puting for some
– Generic sound effects
~Score : 8/10
Dimitris “Dimi Kaye” Kalyvas