Subject 13 ain't thrilling nor very adventurous adventure


 Back in the day Paul Cuisset became famous after designing a little game called Flashback, which was a side scrolling action adventure platformer. He also did adventure games like Cruise for a Corpse and Future Wars as well as relatively well received racing game Moto Racer.

Like many other old game designers he used Kickstarter in order to return to his roots and the fruit of this particular labour was a little title called Subject 13. It would be nice to say that it was a triumphant return, but it wasn't. If anything Subject 13 is tired and uninspired attempt, which fells flat in both puzzle design as well as it does technically, considering how buggy the game is even a couple of years after its release.

The strongest aspect of Subject 13 is its premises: Franklin Fargo is about to drown, when suddenly he vanishes in a flash of light only to end up inside of a little chamber. A voice tells him, that he needs to use his brains in order to escape the abandoned facility he's in. So off he goes, examining environments in both 3rd person and 1st person views. Sadly enough what could have been a foundation to a solid little adventure, what we get in the end is a collection of logic puzzles, some environmental manipulation puzzles where you need to tinker with on screen objects as well as couple of puzzles which are nothing but brute force exercises. The worst offender in this is the final puzzle of the game, which is nothing else than a tedious variation of mine sweeper.

I must give this to Subject 13, it has an interesting opening.
If the puzzle design is more than a bit uninspiring, the technical execution is lacking as well. The worst thing is that some elements of the UI lock from time to time. This happened to me a couple of times with the back button, which prevented me pull back from an object I was examining, forcing me to quit the game, which remedied the issue. But as it did happen to me multiple times in a row it was annoying to say the least. The UI also has clearly been designed touch screens in mind, as at times you need to turn keys or handles by clicking them and doing a rotation movement with the mouse. This is all fine if you actually are playing on a touch screen device, as functions like that is more natural there, but with a mouse it's just awkward design. There's also some instances where the graphics start to flicker as well as they're drawn on screen surrounded with large black boxes.

Subject 13 also has an inbuilt hint system, if you need it. Funnily enough this hint system is pretty useless, as it very often just throws in things that are obvious, like "You should slide those tiles" or hints on things you've already done. Just like everything else in the game, even the hint system feels like no one really paid that much attention on it while it was designed just to check out a box from the to do-list.

The very first room and the place where the mandatory tutorial takes place.
And that's pretty much all I have to say about Subject 13. It's below average puzzle adventure, so if you are a fan of the genre, there's far better titles out there to try. As a game it doesn't do anything particularly well, nor does it really offer anything really unique to make it stand out despite its clunkiness. I can't really recommend it, but if you can get it cheap enough, it's on GOG and Steam. It should also be around for Android and iOS devices as well.

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