Game Title: Attractio
Developer: Game Coder Studios, Bandai Namco
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 2.2 GB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes
Portal was a huge success. A lot of gamers have played it to death, and those that haven’t played it likely recall the lyrics to the song, Still Alive. In light of this, it’s surprising that there haven’t been a ton of games made in the indie world that mimic Portal’s gameplay of Cube-based puzzle-solving.
There are some around, though. There was a Portal-like game set to release on PlayStation systems earlier this year that I’d been planning to review right away. For reasons of a review request that was never followed up on, it took some time before I went out to make the purchase.
But, here it is. This is my review of the Vita / Vita TV version of Attractio!
The world of Attractio takes place in the future, when Mars is colonized and the most popular form of entertainment is a Reality TV Show known as “Attractio”. In Attractio, players go through a series of deadly gravity-based obstacle courses in the hopes of becoming the victor. The story comes in with three different players of different backgrounds. One is a known criminal, hoping to be pardoned, another a police officer from Mars, and the third an orphan that grew up in a low-income neighborhood.
The story of Attractio is interesting enough to keep you interested in the dialogue you get from each level, and is a world I would like seeing more fleshed out in further games.
Attractio is a first-person puzzle game in the vein of Portal. Every stage you play will take you through 3D environments, using large cubes and gravity mechanics to avoid hazards and open the door to escape to the next area.
As I said above, the game is stage-based. The story will take you from stage to stage, and cycle you through the three characters you play as. This is more sequential and gives more variety, as opposed to playing as the same person for the entirety of the game. It seemed a little odd at first, but once the story kicked in further, it made more sense and was nice with mixing things up.
Every stage has you going through an environment in a first-person shooter fashion with the goal of opening the door to exit and go to the next stage. All of these puzzles involve a large cube that is designed very similar to the looks of the Companion Cube from Portal. There are no hearts to be seen, but it will remind you of it from the get-go.
Solving puzzles is a matter of using the cubes to activate switches to open doors. If you need to go through a green door, find a green switch. At the beginning, this will be as simple as walking to a switch and setting the cube down. As the game goes further, though, it gets much trickier. You’ll go from having to walk to a switch to using a gravity cube to make your cube go a certain direction and launch it from a certain airborne point so that it will hit the switch and you won’t die from the fall. Even later you’ll have to be even more creative with using gravity to ride cubes and use them to create openings through hazards.
The biggest way to solve these are with equipment and with thinking. Across the game, you’ll gain new equipment, from the ability to reverse gravity to stand on the ceiling to using a gun to alter the trajectory of objects further away. But even that won’t solve everything for you. The game gets very difficult very quickly. Unless you’re using a guide, many of the latter stages will have you stumped and constantly trying new things to try to get it just right. There are multiple ways to “solve” stages, but it’s one of the most difficult puzzle games I’ve played recently.
With length in mind, there are almost 30 stages across the entire game. If you throw in the idea of each stage giving you a fair amount of difficulty, you could say the game could be cleared in 1 or 2 hours. However, if you’re not using a guide, I would wage the game will take you at least 3-4 hours to beat. I was stuck on some stages for the better part of dozens upon dozens of attempts.
In short? It’s not long if you’ve mastered the game, but don’t expect it to be short if you’re just starting.
Controls are pretty simple to learn, and one thing is that there are special controls on the PlayStation TV. Since settings for the Gravity Gun are used with the Touch Screen, two of these functions are now used with the L3 and R3 buttons.
Controls are pretty simple for the most part. The Left Analog Stick moves your character and Right Analog Stick moves the camera. The L and R trigger are used for firing off your main equipment, and the D-Pad can modify settings on some equipment (like the Gravity Gun). Then, the face buttons. X is used for jumping and Circle for Crouching. Triangle can be used to slow down time temporarily and Square is used to pick up a nearby cube.
Here’s where things get a little rough in the Vita version. A lot of textures look completely different in the handheld version, and those textures we have are very grainy, rough, and all around not very polished. Even just slowly moving the camera shows all of the textures shaking like they’re having a hard time staying stable.
This issue is joined with Loading Time and Frame-Rate problems. Let’s get into the loading times first. Every time a stage loads, I had to put my Vita or controller down and go do something else while it loaded. We are talking about load times that are a good 30-60 seconds on average. They’re really long, even for a console game. Much longer than they need to be.
Frame-Rate is playable, but it’s rough. I’d say the frame-rate average is somewhere between 15 and 20 frames per second. It doesn’t freeze the game up to throw off your control input for difficult sections, but it’s not smooth like it should be. Changing textures for a smoother frame-rate would’ve made sense, but even with the different textures, the game doesn’t run very smoothly.
Attractio is as close to Portal as a PS Vita gamer is probably going to get. While the puzzles are challenging and fun, the degraded visuals and performance make this a flawed experience.