Review: 'Safe House' (PC)

Review: 'Safe House' (PC) LABS GAMES

What can I say about Safe House?  It's a quirky little game about managing a safe house for spies.  You check pass codes and phrases, interrogate people, treat field agents, and send mercenaries out on missions, with each successful job earning you cash to upgrade your building.  And... that's kind of it.

The game has an old school spy theme, something like '70s James Bond, but you're not Bond.  You play the nameless manager of the Safe House and are instructed every day by your CIA overlord on what to do.  If you earn enough cash, you can add new rooms which add complexity and confusion to the nightly routine and occasionally press the plot forward.  Or what passes for a plot.  It involves working for the CIA to infiltrate a foreign government, but the story telling is so detached from the game that it's easy to forget where you are and why you're there.  The characters are dull and the twists lack any surprise.

You start out with two basic rooms: the store front and the loading dock.  Spies will enter your "book store" and utter a pass phrase.  Your job is to open your little folder and look at all the words in that sentence.  If one of them matches a password on your sheet, you type in the counter password.  They'll end with a final pass phrase and, if it matches the code on the second page, you accept them.  Lather, rinse, repeat. Other rooms run the gamut from quick and easy, like checking a single code for the loading dock, or complex, like building a fake passport in the forgery room.

You can add new rooms like black ops or an infirmary, but my personal bane is the cryptography room.  You're given a cypher and a code word, and must type in the deciphered word. Being that this game is on a timer, every time the cryptography room highlights, I cringe.  It's not difficult, just tedious, and I have something against games that make me pull out a real pad and pencil.

The game is a lot of busy work.  You slide from side to side of your safe house, looking for which room will be highlighted.  With the timer running and mistakes giving your enemy cash, stress levels can get high.  Loading docks?  Great!  That takes only a couple seconds.  Infirmary?  Gah!  That'll eat up a least an hour in-game.  Bomb making?  Well, there goes half the night.

While the music is okay and even catchy at times, the graphics are atrocious.  I was forgiving of them at first, but every time they zoom in for a psuedo-cutscene, I get to see how terribly ugly the 3D models are.  I'd like to believe it's on purpose, but at the same time, the game could've utilized 2D sprites and been all the better off for it.  Furthermore, there are a lot spelling errors and little bugs, like being unable to click upgrades or mini-game features having misaligned hit boxes.

Over all, there's nothing really bad about the game play, but nothing really stands out.  In fact, it might actually be a decent game if it were designed for mobile.  If you can remove the tedious elements, like cryptography, it's perfectly set up for casual play.  Every night is its own section, meaning a player on the go could knock out a night or two while waiting for their food or sitting at the DMV.

For the price, the game isn't bad.  I, personally, found it boring.  But if you're okay with repetitive tasks and don't care about story, it has its fun moments.  For this reviewer, though, those moments are too few and far between to give it a recommend.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

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

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