Very rarely it happens that a computer game is a work of art in the highest sense of the word. Even less often the authors of such a project are newcomers to their industry. However, it seems, in the case of Sublustrum, we are dealing with a double exception to the general rule. The beginning studio Phantomery Interactive managed to create an amazing quest. The game really makes an impression and leaves in the soul an imprint, which is usually the privilege of books, films, musical compositions or paintings. In a sense, the word Sublustrum combines all these arts. http://xboxonegame.info
The world that built … who?
Adventure is conducted from the first person, so you will not be able to look at the main character. But there will be something to look around. After all, we will gradually sink into a very strange, fascinating and, at times, frightening parallel worlds. And everything begins simply, almost everyday. The professor-physicist dies under mysterious circumstances, leaving his brother (in the sense, our invisible character) to inherit his home with all the contents. Upon closer examination of the dwelling that we got, it turns out that the scientist apparently had quite a roof at the end of her life. Throughout the house wires are stretched, here and there the floor is razed, the books, drawings and theoretical calculations are scattered in disorder. And in the middle of the living room is a very strange device, reminiscent of a booth. The deceased himself, in his diary and gramophone records, calls the device a “capsule” and claims that it can be used to penetrate the parallel “shimmering” world. In this “behind-the-mirror” space, it becomes possible to meet with deceased relatives, childhood memories. True, in exchange, alternative reality splits the personality and gradually takes possession of it.
Obviously, in the process of one of the experiments, the inventor also died. It is clear that, despite the request of his brother not to try to repeat the experiments of his predecessor, our hero will do everything possible to do the opposite. And fall into a surprisingly sad, oppressive, surreal world, filled with debris, debris, stairs that lead to nowhere, and also – boundless loneliness. So it looks like a story at first glance. But, after the complete passage of the game, it seems that everything was completely different. Was there nothing at all?
Circles of hell?
Sublustrum refers to games that you want to interpret and decipher. After all, in the finals, we do not get a denouement or an answer. Only more questions. Such ambiguity of the adventure game, of course, due to a lot of small, it would seem, details that do not fit into the main storyline. What is even more surprising is that after completing the passage, there arises not the usual annoying thought “here and another toy is over”, but a sense of catharsis, purification. And, at the same time – deep melancholy.
The puzzles are complex, at times – even very, but, in general, quite in the spirit of The Myst or Beyond the Time. The fact that they are not here – the main thing, it becomes clear almost immediate
ly. Although there are no claims to logicality or good quality of tasks – it is quite in the mainstream. But the story line is built expertly, according to all the laws of drama. We gradually pass from the sad mood with a slight mystical touch through the sensation of a truly painful splitting of the consciousness of the hero and the surrounding space to a feeling of total despair and horror, after which a “countdown” begins – to a lonely but harmonious world and final tranquility. Perhaps, it would be worthwhile to draw a parallel with purgatory, and characterize the path of the main character as the afterlife? This thought is prompted by the words of the alleged deceased professor about the death of his brother in his childhood. So who died? And who is our character? The answers to these questions each have to be found independently.
In memory of Tarkovsky
Atmosphere Sublustrum captures and completely subjugates itself from the very first minutes of the game. In a strange, surreal world one has to believe unconditionally. Playing music plays an important role in creating a special aura. Dreary is the most correct word to describe it. Sound design flawlessly corresponds to the plot and, in many ways, determines the psychological perception of the game. The visual part seems to be one of the creations of the filmmaker “Solaris” and “Stalker.” Gloomy, deserted rooms and landscapes, an abundance of gray and green tones in color, constantly muffled lighting is perfectly complemented by the “old film effect”. By the way, you can give several interpretations. On the one hand, everything that is happening here is exactly dated – in 1916 the year. Yes, and an inconspicuous note with a “prologue,” which appears before the start of the game is made in the style of the screenplay. So the stylization of the old movie is quite understandable. On the other hand, the screen shaking can be perceived as a kind of a sign of a “shimmering world”. Perhaps, from the very beginning of the game, are we already in a parallel, after-death dimension? A general atmosphere of mystery is complemented by changes that occur with pictures and photographs.
If at first the respectable families with children look at us from the walls, then the farther away, the more disturbing unreal landscapes appear in their places, as if they came from a terrible dream. On the radio, you can hear here and then Akhmatova’s poem, the song of Vertinsky. Another striking effect on the force of impact is a ghost that appears literally for a moment and only from a certain angle. When you try again to see a ghost in the same place, the result usually does not happen. There is a feeling of mystical fear, as if we really saw something, or it seemed that …
You can not ignore the numerous books, drawings and diary entries of the professor. Each text fragment that comes across to us along the way is created with all possible degree of elaboration – both material background and literary part. In the botanical encyclopedia, in addition to the properties of the plant of interest to us, there will be a detailed description of another flower with the same letter that has nothing to do with anything. All the journals of the deceased researcher are well-voiced. Perhaps the only element that gets out of the general canvas is a modern font in books and notes.
If you grumble
Of course, it’s impossible to fly without a spoon. First, not a very “smart” cursor in the form of a small circle does not allow accurate clicks. You can click on the subject or next to it – the result will be the same. But the camera turns as you like. Secondly, it is a little annoying to have an abundance of pixel shunting, especially in dark and low-color interiors. Often the desired object has to be looked for very long. Not very convenient transitions from the screen to the screen, because it is not always clear where we are going now. And sharp white flashes at every turn slightly blind.
But this is all – little things and nonsense compared to the main thing. Beginning domestic developers managed to create not just a good adventure game, but a landmark project that will undoubtedly enter the gold fund of the genre.
Pros: a unique, enchanting atmosphere; interesting puzzles; an intricate plot.
Cons: not the most convenient control; capricious camera.