Does anybody remember an old level called The Abandoned Coal Mine by xbriandeadx? If you haven't, I'll give you the skinny:
You accidentally fall into an abandoned coal mine (some how) and end up getting trapped in the equivalent of hell, trying desperately to escape while being pursued and antagonized by a an evil demon that I've affectionately named "Lenny". After two levels of trying to navigate out of his demonic world, I found myself still stuck in the underworld. I haven't actually checked to see if he finished a third one yet so the ending currently remains unresolved.
The reason I bring it up is due to the uncanny resemblance it shares with Salvation, The Introduction in its delivery, storytelling, and ironically even the gameplay.
STI starts you off at the site where you apparently crashed your car, which coincidentally happens to be in the middle of a creepy forest where there probably aren't roads to begin with. Searching around outside of the car, you find an awfully wicked looking vehicle that looks like a cross between a Twisted Metal car and a zergling. Deciding it would be a good idea to jump into Satan's speedwagon, you grab hold and proceed to travel through a twisted labyrinth made of psychedelic lights. After finally stopping, you question where in the hell you ended up and proceed to explore further. This pretty much continues right up until you reach the end at which the main demonic figure in charge tell you the "master" will prepare more levels in due time. To me, this was a tad disappointing, I was really expecting a little more information and explanation for the story here since this is an "introduction". One Introduction later, I'm still extremely left in the dark on number of issues; too many questions remain by the end:
-What were you doing in the woods in the first place?
-Why would you enter a demonic looking vehicle?
-What is the purpose of this unusual world you've entered?
-Who is running this whole operation? How about at least telling what the name of the demon head is that guides you (I don't want to have to start making up names again...)
Needless to say, the storytelling could use a little work. Most of the dialogue boxes I encountered were of your character pretty much just going "What's happening here?" or "Where am I? Where is this?". It may seem unfair to judge this level so harshly on storytelling when the level is just an intro, but I think if you are planning to create some kind of series out of this (which I'm guessing the artist does, giving the title of the level) you really need to give the people playing it a better idea of with what they are getting involved. So far, all I can tell you is you ended up in a psychedelic factory....SOMEWHERE....and the factory is somewhat dangerous but also not really and there's this demon head that talks to you once welcoming you and not telling you what you are even doing here, and then you proceed to the finish while waiting for the next task. Outside of that, you are only indirectly told that wherever you are is clearly dangerous, an idea generated by the dark atmosphere, creepyambient music, and the hidden placement of a bloody skeleton in one of the corridors. I still can't tell you what the factory is even for. Most of this seems to imply the story and all events actually start in the "real" 1st level (In which case, what's the point of really having an introduction level).
Alright, hopefully the artist gets it, the story might need work or at the very least the actually position and weight of this intro level needs to be re-evaluated. What about the other aspects?
Well, I can tell you right now that the level's visual presentation was absolutely fantastic. Some of the lighting was a little dark in a few places, and the conveyor belt segment seemed a little too stretched or slow, but the rest of the aesthetic and mood were marvelously considered. The mood is generated fairly well using both a very clear and concise setting as well as carefully considered music. The environment honestly seems to do a better job telling you about the setting than any amount of dialogue could, making it very strong.
As far as actual gameplay segments go, I return to my further analogy of The Abandoned Coal Mine. See, for everything the level does to win you over visually, it doesn't really seem to do much more than be pretty. Platforming in this level is fairly bland, nothing too special to speak of here, and there aren't any enemies which pretty much implies no challenge. Now there's nothing especially wrong with all that, it just means the series is developed as more of a fantasy mystery with horror elements rather than the originally conceived fantasy horror with mystery elements.
At the end of the day, the only truly redeeming feature SIC has going for it is the visual presentation, which is relied on to move the entire level. Luckily it works out, but it certainly didn't feel like it needed to be so absolutely dependent on just it's visual prowess. What we've got here is a level that looks gorgeous and really gives you a lot of information just on the visuals, but has lackluster gameplay and improperly handled story. What we have here is a Final Fantasy XIII.
Final Score: 7.0 / 10
I think I'm being pretty generous here. The visual presentation was just that good, and it managed to drive the level a lot farther than I would have thought. I mean, the level's not bad, it's just very average with amazing visuals. Hopefully the actual first level will make up for this a little, and I'm honestly looking forward to it.
On a side note, try playing this level with the following mindset: the main character is drunk/high. Suddenly, everything makes sense.
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- Join Date
- Dec 2008
- Where the ocean touches the sky
SA reviews "Salvation, An Introduction"