Reviewing this kind of game is a serious challenge. On one hand, the readers are owed an honest review of the game as it currently is. On the other hand, the game shows that the developer has serious potential. I can see the ideas at work behind this game, and I know that with more time and money, something truly spectacular could become of it.
As it is, however, 3089 is just another stepping stone along that path. While some might appreciate what it’s trying to do, it doesn’t make for the most interesting of games in and of itself.
3089 is a procedurally generated RPG. What that means is that all quests, locations, enemies, weapon, etc. are created as you play. This sounds incredibly interesting, but the hard truth is that the game is a series of random encounters without context.
There is a bit of setup, however. You play as the latest android from a long series created by a massive corporation. You’re dropped on a planet full of your predecessors, and your goal is to basically prove your mettle by participating in war games. It’s basic red vs blue stuff. There’s also a rogue AI that talks to you from time to time, but don’t expect anything grand to come of it. The characters you meet might have names, but those names are randomly generated and put on randomly generated characters that come in just a few different shapes and sizes. Most are identical save for a color variation. You can’t talk to anyone. Pressing the interact button simply lets you know if you can get the robot to follow you. And so, the planet is an empty one, bereft of all personality and charm.
What about those quests? Randomized quests sounds kind of cool, right? Sure, except that it only adds to the feeling that you’re just performing in a series of fetch quests. For example, you’ll see quests that say “talk to person A, defeat person B, and then spy on person C”. Those “persons” may have names, but they have nothing to differentiate them from anyone else. It boils down to following your quest marker and tapping “E”, following your quest marker and killing the thing at the end, and then following your quest marker and staying out of sight for an arbitrary amount of time. While the exact objectives do get mixed up a bit, the lack of context doesn’t do them any favors. Sure, this time I need to disarm a bomb, but that bomb is in the middle of nowhere and isn’t threatening anyone. Sure, this time I can’t be detected, but there’s no reason given for why that is.
Mechanically, the game is OK for the most part. It controls like you’d expect any first-person game on the PC to. Perhaps a bit too much work is given to the “e” key, as it serves as a general interaction button. That means you’ll use it to “talk” to robots, break crates, activate vendors, and other things. There are several types of guns and swords in the game, but the real fun is with the gadgets. In particular, my favorite gadget is the grappling hook. This sucker can hook onto pretty much anything and get you zooming across the landscape in no time. That’s great, especially since the worlds are often large and empty. It takes forever to walk. Another device lets you build your own devices, at the price of cash. It’s pretty nifty, though you shouldn’t expect to be able to build anything too elaborate.
Combat in the game is kind of a miss though. This is a true RPG, so you can aim your gun however you want, but it’s ultimately going to come down to your stats. This makes gun battles a frustrating effort, to say the least. On top of that, using your weapon requires energy. Energy gets expended so easily that you’ll need to constantly be using consumables to keep up. That means pausing the game frequently in order to keep fighting at peak condition. Energy and health regenerate up to 25% over time, but not more.
A nifty mechanic is the “time rift” ability. From the start, you’ll be able to freeze time around you. This is great, as it lets you land several unanswered shots on foes that can’t move out of the way. The kicker is that you can only freeze time for a short while. In order to recharge the ability, you’ll need to find time power-ups strewn throughout the game.
Character progression is done by finishing quests, and only by finishing quests. Unlike normal RPGs, you don’t get experience, and your abilities don’t get stronger as you go. You have to take up a quest and complete it in order to advance. Each quest allots you with a certain number of points. You can then distribute these points to one of your stats. I’m not overly fond of this, to say the least. If you’re not on a quest, you really can’t advance your character apart from finding items. Since you can find items while on a quest, that leaves little incentive to go off the beaten path. On top of that, the randomized nature of quests will often have you stuck trying to perform actions that your character can’t. If you’re not putting points into stealth, you’re going to have trouble completing any mission where you can’t be detected. This forces you to allot precious points into skills you might not really want to focus on.
Equipment is the cornerstone of this game. As you play, you’ll find pieces to various weapons, armor, and gadgets. You can sell these for a small price, or visit a workstation in order to assemble them into completed wholes. Pieces come in different rarities and provide various stat boosts. This system, like so much of the game, sounds cool in theory. In practice, however, it means you’ll spend an incredible amount of time grinding for item parts. It can be a real pain when you want to make a pistol, but can’t find a single barrel part for it. It’s also not good to carry too much around with you, as this increases your load. An increased load means decreased character speed. Also, many of the gadgets that help you move around faster only work if your load is small enough.
As for the presentation, the game does some things well and other things not so well. I really enjoyed the music, as it had this futuristic techno vibe going. However, the audio effects were tinny and annoying. Also, it got real old that every single robot I passed had to say “hostiles not detected”. Visually, the game is a bust. The charm of the block style has been replaced with jagged edges and crude geometrical shapes. It’s basically the worst looking parts of early 3D games. Ugly character models do little to help things. Even the guns look bad. Sure, it’s a ten dollar game, but I’ve seen plenty of better looking games at the same price.
I really wanted to like this game. I had some fun with it’s predecessor, 3079. I liked how you could advance your character by goofing around, and that you could take up quests only if you wanted to. It was like a classic western RPG, even it was in a block style. This game tries to advance things up a bit, but ends up losing the charm in the process. I hope the developer can take a look at what made his earlier games successful and incorporate that into any future titles (or perhaps updates for this one). I’d be willing to give it another shot, as I see plenty of promise here.
Short Attention Span Summary
3089 is an ambitious game that aims to give players and procedurally generated RPG experience. While it delivers on some base mechanical levels, it fails overall. By relegating the player to quests without context, it feels like nothing you do really matters. Sadly, these soulless quests are the only way to advance your character. On top of that, the world you inhabit feels empty and devoid of activity. At times, it can be fun, and there are plenty of great ideas here. I’m hoping that next time, the ideas manifest into an enjoyable game.