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Platform(s): PC
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PC Preview - 'Gain'

by Brian Dumlao on March 31, 2016 @ 3:00 a.m. PDT

Gain is a first-person stealth game where you must freeze enemies, slow down time, and collect the documents in eight levels without dying. There are no saves, so once you die, it's back to the very beginning.

There are countless titles that rely on stealth as a main gameplay mechanic. Splinter Cell and Volume deal in it almost exclusively. Some of the games also use stealth from a first-person perspective, like Dishonored and Thief. Gain wants to do the same, but it is being developed by a very small team instead of a large cast of programmers and artists.

Throughout eight different levels, you're tasked with grabbing the highlighted document folder and getting out of the area without getting killed. A bunch of guards stand between you and your goals, and you have a limited amount of weaponry, including silenced pistols, a knife, and a bow and arrow that can freeze enemies on the spot. You also have the actual power to slow down enemies. While there is a semblance of a story here thanks to your chatty off-screen radio partner, there isn't much to go on at this time.

The hook is that everything is designed to make the experience near-impossible for those who prefer to rush into a situation. Guards are around every possible corner, so there isn't a single pathway that you can pass through without being spotted. You have no melee abilities, so you have to rely on your weapons, all of which have very limited ammunition. In the case of the knife and arrows, you can't pick them up from corpses or walls if you hit or miss, respectively.

The game sends you all the way back to the beginning when you die. No matter how far you are, one shot is all it takes to have you restart the game from the very beginning. The first few times this occurs, you're met with sarcastic quips from your radio partner, which doesn't make this mechanic any more endearing.  The feature would be more interesting if the game did something different every time you restarted. Instead, the layouts remain the same each and every time. Enemy and document folder locations are also static, so the repetition makes the experience feel like a slog. Since the game is still in development, perhaps this can be addressed by adding some procedurally generated elements to the levels.

There are also a number of issues that could be addressed during development but remain distracting for the time being. For some reason, only sight is a factor to being spotted by the guards, so you can make as much noise as you want and not be penalized for it. There is an apparent shimmer when you move the camera across the water in the sewer level, and things are certainly brighter there than in other levels. While there are a number of graphical options, there's none for V-Sync, and that's a problem due to the screen-tearing that's present in the title. There are also missing animations for things like the knife throw and the lack of a curve when using the bow and arrow is apparent when you fire it and see it go above the crosshairs.

Currently, Gain is still on Steam Greenlight. There is word that the developers are trying to add more to the title, including co-op and more levels. You might want to wait and see how things progress before picking up the title.

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