Game Review: Technobabylon Is A Smart Sci-Fi Game

technobabylon

Technobabylon is not your typical point and click and adventure game. For one, it’s hard sci-fi, a genre you don’t see point and click adventure games tackle all that much Not because it’s difficult to do, I don’t think, just that it’s not done. (Most sci-fi games tend to be shooters, for whatever reason.) Set in the futuristic city of Newton in an alternate history Earth, where much of the world has been decimated by nuclear war and its political fallout – think toppled governements, religious extremists, and warlords, you kind of get the picture – Newton is a beacon of progress and stability. That’s because Newton is controlled and monitored by an AI called Central. Central keeps watch over citizens in an effort to keep them safe, though being a computer it doesn’t always understand what that is for human beings. But in Technobabylon, all that’s about to change.

In Technobabylon you switch between a few different characters, though the main two are Charlie Regis,  a Newton police officer who is trying to solve a serial Mindjacker case and who has a past that has something to do with Central’s creation; and Latha Sesame, an unemployed woman who is addicted to the net, which in true sci-fi fashion, is now plugged directly into our brains using technology. In Technobabylon, the physical and digital spaces are equally important, which makes for some very interesting gameplay. Sometimes solving puzzles involves going back and forth between them, though the game doesn’t let you get too comfortable with that either – Regis actually isn’t hooked up to the net at all, which means you have to think in a completely different way to solve problems. This is my favourite part of Technobabylon – its unique way of problem solving, how it keeps you on your toes. The puzzles for different sections are clever, but not so much that they’re impossible to figure out. There are a few instances where I found out I had to do something that I wasn’t even aware a character was capable of, a slight failure on the game’s part, but it really only happened once. It’s a smart game, and for the most part very well thought out in terms of gameplay, which is always something I appreciate.

The story is captivating enough, though I had some issues with it. It’s very good at drawing you in at the beginning of the game, but I found as it went on, it started to become a little predictable. I saw certain twists coming way too soon, and unfortunately it’s yet another Sad Dad game (if you are a longtime reader you know this is my most hated videogame trope), but Newton is luckily an interesting enough place that I could get past it. Unfortunately, it was enough to really take away from any emotional impact that the ending might have had. There are a lot of influences apparent on this game: Minority Report, The Matrix, Margaret Atwood’s Madd Addam books, so if that’s your sort of thing, you’ll probably be very happy with Technobabylon. It also has cannibalism and grisly robot murder!

But what I really like is the character of Latha, a smart, strong young woman of colour whose resourcefulness helps her get to the bottom of the mystery of why people are out to kill her. There’s also Max Lao, Charlie’s partner and another technologically minded woman, always there to make fun of Charlie for being a luddite. (She’s got his back too.) Newton is actually an incredibly diverse city, with people from all over the world; as it should be, as it’s intimated it’s located somewhere in or near India. It’s definitely one of the most diverse games I’ve played, especially in terms of both primary and secondary characters not being all white.

Technobabylon is available now for PC on Steam, GOG, and through the Humble store.

Disclosure: This review was written using a personal copy of the game purchased by the author. The views within this review reflect solely those of the author, not the publisher or developer.

Writer, editor, and founding member of Paper Droids. RPG-lover, baby game maker, owned by corgi. Spends way too much time on Twitter @mk_patter. To reach by email: sciandtech@paperdroids.com