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June 2021


Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: RPG/Action
Developer: Anshar Studios
Release Date: Sept. 16, 2021


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PC Preview - 'Gamedec'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on March 26, 2021 @ 10:00 a.m. PDT

Gamedec is an adaptive, cyberpunk RPG game where you play a private detective who solves crimes committed in virtual game worlds.

Based on the novels of the same name by Polish sci-fi author Marcin Sergiusz Przybylek, Gamedec is set in a future cyberpunk dystopia where people escape from the drudgery of the real world by venturing into virtual reality worlds. I haven't read the novels, but they're set in an interesting world. Players take control of a gamedec or "game detective," and the job is to solve mysteries in and out of those virtual worlds. In Gamedec, you are a genuine detective who puzzles out and solves mysteries, not a hard-boiled noir protagonist who shoots bad guys in the face.

Gamedec most resembles the excellent title, Disco Elysium, and it follows a similar concept. In our preview build, there's no combat. Instead, you explore an isometric world and discover different people, paths, and methods of exploration. The demo takes place entirely in the "Realium" or the "real world." Your character arrives at Low City to meet an informant but discovers that the police have set up an active crime scene because your informant, Ezra, is dead. It appears to be a tragic accident involving a rogue drone that shot him. Of course, nothing is quite what it seems, and your goal is to figure out what happened.

Right away, Gamedec offers a huge variety of choices in what to do. The initial area features a handful of NPCs, but you can interact with each one in different ways. You quickly discover that there is bad blood between the man in charge of the investigation and a local doctor. By talking to both men and exploring the environment, you can find out what led to the animosity. You can side with one or the other, and in doing so, you'll discover more secrets. I don't want to spoil the outcomes for players who are interested in downloading the demo, but both characters have their own bundle of secrets that can drastically alter how they interact and what favors you can get from them.

Those two are only one part of the puzzle. There's a combat soldier who's being harassed by two would-be documentary makers, and she also has a partitioned brain and a holographic cat to help her process the trauma. The player needs to find a way to get the filmmakers to let her see the allegedly murderous drone. You can do everything from help the filmmakers get their info to bombarding the soldier with data from a nearby drone.

After some dramatic events, I ended up inside a massive dance club populated by Sleeves (criminals, from what I could gather) and Trolls (of the internet variety). My goal was to find someone who ran into the club, but to get my foot in the proverbial door, I had to curry favor with groups. There were multiple people in the area who were associated with one faction or another. One woman wanted me to prank her coworker. Another was a hologram who needed a way to wake up his elderly friend. A third was a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Each had quests that would eventually associate me more with the Sleeves or Trolls — or neither. Just talking to people let me gather information and put everything together.

This is where deduction comes into play. As you gather clues, they are associated with various hypotheses. For Ezra's death, you investigate the drone, his death, the motive behind his death, and more. Each potential hypothesis has multiple possible answers, and you need to choose the correct one, with certain solutions only becoming available if you've found the specific clues. It seems that the goal of the area is to correctly solve the mystery of your current location. You can make wrong choices without realizing it, though. If you choose the wrong person, people can die because of your actions. Even if you know who committed the crime, running in without enough information can leave you unable to talk your way out of a bad situation.

In my multiple playthroughs, I found different paths that allowed for different outcomes. It's possible to get the info you need without ever talking to anyone, but talking to people unlocks new conversation options and paths to explore. More importantly, what I saw was only a small portion of what was available. A number of dialogue options were locked, either by skills that my pre-generated character didn't have or were unavailable in the preview build. It's easy to see even more potential paths that I couldn't take. This was just a bite-sized snippet of the game, but it reflected earlier choices made by the pre-generated character, and it clearly set up things that would have consequences later. If this level of reactivity is present throughout the game, it'll be mighty impressive.

The preview build limited us to a female hacker with medical skills and blocked off a lot of dialogue trees. We could see hints of what lies ahead. In Disco Elysium fashion, certain actions seem to fill bars connected to specific sets of ideas, such as logic or emotion. While we couldn't mess around much with them, these bars seem to be connected to professions/skills, such as charisma, hacking, lockpicking, medical, and even violence. The game doesn't appear to have a traditional combat system, so I imagine it'll treat combat differently, like Disco Elysium did.

Overall, the bite-sized preview build of Gamedec is impressive. It feels detailed, reactive, and interesting, and it seems to offer some genuinely cool detective-focused gameplay. Gamedec has the potential to be an awesome addition to the adventure game genre; just think of it as a cyberpunk Disco Elysium. Gamedec is due out Sept. 16, 2021, for PC, and a Nintendo Switch port is planned.

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