Review: 'Technobabylon' (iOS)

Review: 'Technobabylon' (iOS) STEAM

Cyberpunk is a pretty fun genre. It's the future that probably won't be, but looks great and downtrots a lot of people in the process. Putting together a game based on it can be a bit of a challenge – it's hard to find anything that isn't influenced by things like Blade Runner. Technobabylon does that (and more), but to my surprise, made it it's own little thing (and more). After borrowing an iPad and downloading, I got to it.

In a future that suspiciously looks like the Los Angeles in Blade Runner, the Internet has taken over. Called 'Trance', it makes mundane life into a Matrix /Blade Runner mix. One character, Latha, loves it to death. Another, Regis (a cop) doesn't like it so much. Other characters have differing opinions. With a murderer on the loose, it's up for you to find the killer, untangle the conspiracy and make the best of the world while doing it. I'm conflicted here. Police work is surprisingly fun and the atmosphere is great, but there's a lot of ripping off about. There's not much that isn't directly lifted from a cyberpunk book or movie. Fun stories inside, but it feels like you're playing a tacked on bit of a game off an existing property.

Controls were fine. I had to borrow an iPad to play the game, and even though I wasn't exactly familiar with everything, the touch screen helped a lot. It's point and click, but the with police/mystery vibe, it's all you needed. I'm making too big a deal about touch screen difficulties. It's easy to pick up and start playing, and the controls are flawless.

Gameplay was really absorbent. I like police procedural games, or generally games with a lot of searching that takes critical thinking, and I was surprised when there was a little actual police work or thinking involved here. But since it's cyberpunk and it carries that weight already, maybe not. While it is a ripoff, it's atmosphere is unique, and making you try different combinations with objects or finding clues is really fun. The world does help with that. Point and click, but with meaning.

Graphically it keeps that 8-bit style that many indie games love now a days, but with the cyberpunk setting, it meshes well. The anime game trend of having perfectly drawn body graphics popping up with text with a not as well rendered playing field shows up, and it was a bit off kilter to me. But it does set the mood. The neon lit skyscrapers mixed with grungy living places and the very strangely animated Internet combine many futures depicted together at once. It's fun to see. And play in.

Sound and music are split. The music is fantastic – eerie, futuristic, haunting, foreboding and hopeful. That late 70's, to mid 80's style of music plays perfectly in the background, and sets a scene very well. Top marks there. The voice acting was very stilted. You could tell they were reading off a script. If it was the plan to sound as much like Harrison Ford's lazy narration of Blade Runner, then they nailed it. Anger is muted to a slightly raised voice. Annoyance always has the same inflection. Other little sounds in the game, especially that wacky Internet/trance, fit not too badly. But voice acting could have used some work. It took away from the game for me.

For an iOS game, the frame rate looked great. I did have to touch more forcefully or in a hyper specific area sometimes it felt like, but it was only a minor annoyance. I didn't see any glitches besides those few touchpad issues. All around, it worked together just fine.

Technobabylon is a ripoff, but melded together, it becomes a loving ripoff. It's genuinely exciting to be a police officer here and to experience the trance. Visuals can be beautiful sometimes in all their blockly goodness. The music makes you wish this was a Netflix original series. There are some issues, but I had a lot of fun with this. Fans of cyberpunk will want to play this, as will anyone looking for a unique mystery/cop game. And watch out for those slang words – oh yeah. You can tell the developers had fun with it and loved the genre and made a solid game out of it. That alone is usually worth a purchase.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.

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