Since the Unreal engine hit iOS, we’ve seen a lot of great-looking attempts at bringing more console and PC-style games to the platform. Subject 7 is a first-person puzzler that has a distinct Portal-like feel, even if there’s no portal gun. The game is due to be released episodically and shows off plenty of potential.
Subject 7 opens with the player– Subject 7– awakening in a strange room, with even stranger people suddenly babbling on about emergencies and things you must do. The game creates an excellent sense of atmosphere and mystery about what’s happening around you. The dialogue is well written, the voice acting is decent, and the ambient soundtrack is very effective.
Passes the white glove test.
The Unreal engine provides the perfect platform for the detailed visuals. The graphics are terrific, with a smooth and steady framerate. The most distinct aspect of Subject 7, however, is the way it thrusts players in with virtually no guidance for any of its puzzles. While some might not appreciate the complete lack of help, it creates a heightened sense of mystery and urgency that fits the plot perfectly.
That said, another reason for the lack of guidance might simply be to help lengthen the experience. The puzzles in episode one are generally clever, if stuck in the memorization and Simon-Says mold, but there aren’t many of them. While the first run through might take players an hour, once you understand the game’s solutions, the episode can be completed in less than ten minutes.
The other problem with the game is the control layout. There’s a butterfly in the upper left corner that switches between gyroscopic turning and a standard virtual stick, the former of which is virtually unplayable on an iPad. While there are tapping controls, the game is otherwise completely dependent on its twin-stick design, which feels noticeably sluggish– especially during the questionable shooting sequence.
It’s unfortunate that the developers didn’t strive to adapt to the touch screen instead of merely treating the game as a console-style game on a tablet. While the atmosphere and presentation are superb, the game’s length is a significant issue. It’s clear the developers want to create a dramatic and intriguing gaming universe and, for the most part, they’ve succeeded. Unfortunately, until more content is released we’re still hard pressed to whole-heartedly recommend Subject 7.