Science fiction horror games are a dime a dozen, but 2084 tries not to be like the others. The gameplay holds back the amazing environmental art, but lays the groundwork for what promises to be a fairly unique game in how it treats science-fiction horror. However, from simplistic enemy design to bad spawn points, the game requires a lot of work before leaving Early Access.
2084 is all about exploration, hacking, and shooting. Throughout each level are various items that need to be hacked. Some other hackable objects will shock enemies—who look to be deranged hospital patients—within a certain radius, stunning them for a short period. Hacking is made novel by the developer’s non-traditional approach to the practice; the player can shoot a blue light that allows them to abuse electronics from afar and not have to run up to the object.
Another aspect of hacking is that time slows down; while this quality may sound helpful, a moment of slowness can still get the player killed as mobs of enemies may get close. The time to input the code is so short that one mistake can be unrecoverable. If hacking allowed a bit more time and a stronger slowdown, the game would feel more forgiving, especially because getting cornered almost guarantees death. The game spawns enemies on both sides of the player when unlocking doors the same hacking items, creating unfair and repetitive gameplay moments.
The audio design is distinctly creepy and can be used in companionship with enemies to scare players into a fight-or-flight situation, which would be better suited with unlocking doors to better scare players as opposed to pincering them into unfair traps. Other occasions will have enemies spawn in unending mass numbers, making the player fire off their ammo quickly.
2084 offers a self-aware narrative. Cinematics take place in a ‘real-world’ setting, while the protagonist dons a VR headset that sends her into the FPS action. Early in the game’s story, after the player has killed many of the zombified hospital patients, security staff come to the player’s apartment and tell them that a lockdown has gone into effect. How the lockdown and the world outside affects the part of the game that the player is in control is unknown, leaving more questions than answers. The lack of communication creates more confusion about what the player is doing. The mystery of nanobots and outbreak is far more intriguing than the zombie-like killing and environmental hacking.
One great approach to the weapon functionality that character wields is that, when overcharged on ammo, it shoots at a faster rate, which is great for mowing down the masses of enemies and more incentive to keep refilling ammo. The enemies are not all that distinctive as the developer has included only one design. So far, the adversaries vary in size, but not appearance. Furthermore, the enemies seem little more than bullet fodder, offering nothing unique in the way of AI or abilities. In some aspects, 2084 feels like the ’Zombies’ mode in Call of Duty without the multitude of guns.
The game features amazing environment art; aside from being a little dark in places, the levels look spectacular. The developer has done a stellar job of blending the cyberspace world into a rundown and decrepit concrete environments using geometric design and the aesthetic of a stereotypical backend of a digital world. The world is a pleasure to look at and explore, but, sadly, the same can not be said about the enemies and bosses.
The first boss was the most unique of the three: a cube that shoots lasers from the side and needs to be hacked to expose the weak spot. The second boss is extremely difficult, requiring players to hack his armband to lower the shield while fending off a horde of ever-spawning enemies. The third boss was extremely easy: just avoid and shoot to win.
2084 is a solid base to build the rest of the game off of, issues and all. Given that the projects had begun in an internal game jam, these problems are understandable. As it stands, 2084 is a prototype with a great mystery to the story. However, the gameplay needs an overhaul to enemy spawn points, combat, and monsters to be redone or added to before being something special.