When Vin Diesel announced he was starting Tigon games during the era of the original Xbox, I scoffed and promptly forgot about it until the Chronicles of Riddick game arrived. It was actually an impressive game, but unfortunately that was about the last we heard from Vin’s foray into gaming. Until now. Tigon is back with another Riddick game, subtitled the Merc Files. It’s an iOS-only game centered entirely on stealthy game play.
At its core, Merc Files is an interesting concept. Riddick must stick to the dark areas of the small levels, while taking out guards, finding objects, and escaping. Each level can be played with one of three objectives. The most basic is just escaping. Another mode tasks Riddick with finding a box-shaped item and escaping with it, while the third is an assassination mode where he must take out a designated target.
We generally expect reasonably simple set ups for mobile games, but this game just doesn’t do a lot with its overall concept and characters. The enemy AI is incredibly spotty, at times having near superhuman perception and other times just running around in circles. Being spotted for more than a second or so is an instant fail as well, which is a bit annoying.
Riddick can pick up enemy guns and use them to score one-time kills, which usually causes nearby enemies to come running. So long as Riddick manages to stay out of their sight range, he’s still being stealthy apparently. Riddick can move bodies, but the sensitivity of the touch controls is spotty, leading to some frustration over whether he picks up the body, a fallen weapon, or nothing at all.
The camera is a huge issue as well. Rotating is simple enough, but pinching to zoom moves to an overarching view of the whole level. This view is handy, because you can see your objectives, most enemies, and the overall map, but it’s incredibly unwieldy. It just doesn’t work intuitively and there’s no option to adjust the zoom level.
Riddick’s AI is also spotty at best. Tapping on locations, such as hidden alcoves, can lead to him trying to go around walls if you aren’t careful. So, the game feels like you aren’t so much controlling Riddick as vaguely directing him. Finally, for a game based on a very violent R-rated movie, the violence in the game is incredibly tame.
The game’s idea of a stealthy takedown is usually Riddick sneaking up behind a guard, tapping them on the shoulder and punching them. Not exactly a hardcore fatality for the notorious anti-hero. For all the flaws, I didn’t hate my time with Riddick, but the game quickly bogs down into repetition and has too many mechanical flaws. It suffers from a limited design and just doesn’t do enough with its license.