Receiver is a new game that has been released by Wolfire Games. You may know them from the sequel they are developing for Lugaru: The Rabbit’s Foot called Overgrowth. I don’t exactly want to do a review of this game, since there isn’t a lot to the game, but I still think there’s a lot of bits and pieces that many developers could learn from.
Receiver is a procedurally generated game that is based around the extremely detailed gun mechanics. You have the ability to interact with every single part of the gun you are in possession of when the game starts. This includes having to learn how to properly load a gun, which is not as simple as just jamming a new cartridge into the receiver. You have to eject the cartridge, either drop it and load a new one, or slide bullets in individually, load the cartridge, and put a bullet into the chamber. You also have to make sure that the safety is off, and the firing hammer is cocked as well. It all sounds pretty cumbersome and annoying, but surprisingly the mechanics are very polished and fluid, and like most things just takes some practice to get used to. I was very surprised to see how natural the loading procedure became as I spent more and more time with the game. So why is this game important enough to write about?
It took Wolfire all of seven days to create a game that has the absolute most realistic gun mechanics that are available in gaming today. That’s pretty sad. While a lot of people have said that this mechanic is gimicky and has no real place in games, I must say I have to disagree. I’ve seen ideas pitched around for using it in various genres that would work excellently. Survival horror games could really get a boost in the feeling of helplessness by implementing this kind of mechanic. Tactical FPS games could also get a boost of realism from the mechanic, applying it to all the different guns that they have. Sure, in Arena FPS and the like, there isn’t a place for having to stop and individually insert bullets into a cartridge before reloading, but there are other genres that exist. I really enjoyed the mechanic and have grown fond of it, and look forward to seeing it used in the future, if anyone bothers to pick it up.
Other Awesome Things
When you fire a bullet in this game, you actually fire a bullet. There is travel time and drop to take into account. Those two features by themselves are nothing really special, but the bullets can also ricochet if fired at the proper angle. The enemies are also well done, taking context sensitive damage. The two enemies present in the game are both equipped with cameras, and if you shoot the camera out it renders the enemy blind. There are turrets that turn in a 360 arch, and flying enemies with tasers that will chase you down and kill you. The flying enemies have a camera to be shot out, but they are also kept afloat by a propeller that, when shot, will knock the tasing robot out of the sky. This doesn’t render it useless, however, just unable to move. If you walk up to it it can still kill you.
Another interesting mechanic that the game uses is that to run you have to tap w repeatedly. This really helps to add a frantic-ness to the atmosphere of the game, which is already creepy and lonely. This mechanic is also present in other games, but has fallen to the way side as of late. I would like to see more games use this, because it shifts from statistical management to something that is dependent on the player, and adds a bit of analog to PC movement control, which is decidedly monotone. When you sprint in real life you don’t clench your body like your holding something, you move rapidly, and this movement type is more in the spirit of actual movement.
I’ve been pretty positive about this game, but it certainly has it’s flaws. The coding isn’t a final product, so you fall through the floor sometimes. Nothing is more infuriating than finding 4 tapes and falling through the floor to your death. There is also no variable amount of damage that you can take. One shot, one kill (for the enemy, course). There are only two enemies, so using the same strategy over and over again gets boring. Also, there is no flashlight, and the level get’s pretty dark some times, and it’s really obnoxious having to fumble around trying to find your way when it’s pitch black (and then falling through the floor). There being only one gun is kind of underwhelming as well, but again, 7 days. The issues would be things that would be ironed out over the course of the development process, except the one shot, one kill thing.
The realism in this game is impeccable. For seven days of development it is astounding, and I would really love to see this game expounded upon in the future, after they are finished with Overgrowth. The story is engaging and interesting, and I really want to finish this game and see what the conclusion is. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at this game, and finding all 11 tapes is a huge pain. This is really the first time that an FPS has challenged me since, well ever I guess. I’ve always just naturally been able to pick up an FPS and know how to play it, but this game has managed to throw me an extremely effective curve ball, and I like it.