Quality Time In InSomnia’s Dieselpunk Sci-Fi Sandbox
By Nathaniel Liles
The dieselpunk look and feel has been taking off ever since the Fallout series started getting serious attention again (around the time Fallout 3 came out), and I’m a big fan of the oxidized look of games that take on this aesthetic theme. It does, however, have very little room to grow and branch out. It’s a very specific look with very specific set pieces. Broken down cars, buildings made of scrap metal, rust, and doors that open by turning a valve always make an appearance in stuff like this, but I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. It’s like saying “all sci-fi has futuristic technology and space travel”. It’s what defines the genre, and while it may not branch out much, it’ll keep being cool until it’s overdone. InSomnia got in before the style got boring, and I appreciate the flavor it brings out. Its detail in presentation is memorable and immersive, and the playable tech demo available on the games’ Kickstarter page is a great way to get involved. It’s a fairly small download, so if you’re already interested, go check it out by all means, but if you’d rather read than play, I’ll give you the minutes.
Right off the bat, some odd graphical quirks are noticeable, but I’m going to peg the odd shades of rust on high contrast and leave it at that. Aside from the odd speckled environments, the look is a very polished dieselpunk. InSomnia legitimately looks AAA, even though it’s a bit of a dated AAA look. The graphical aspect of this one shines well, down to the fine details of your character’s equipment. This is one of the few games I’ve ever seen that show all your equipped items on your character simultaneously. If you have two guns equipped, they’re both on your back. There’s a very step-by-step approach to combat here, requiring you to draw your weapon, ready the shot, and fight in real time. Insomnia inhabits a middle ground between RPG and third-person shooter, and while the control scheme was manageable in the tech demo, I don’t think it would do so well in heated, real-time combat.
Speaking of the controls, they’re just weird at this point. Imagine a cross between a third-person shooter, an isometric RPG, and a point-and-click adventure game. That’s InSomnia. You can move and explore by clicking on the ground and interactive objects, but your camera stays parked behind your character, third-person style. That leads to difficult navigation and nausea from the camera swinging all over the place, but it’s not your only option. If you hold down right mouse, you can steer your character and use WASD to move like in a typical third-person game, but the mouse tracking is slow, you have to let go of RMB to interact with things, and it’s just clumsy all around. You can also move with the arrow keys, which actually ends up being the most intuitive option. You lose the ability to strafe, but your mouse is free to interact with the environment and attack baddies.
Fix the controls, guys; if that’s done then InSomnia looks like it’s going to be phenomenal, worth every cent of the $70,000 goal you’ve set. The Kickstarter is still going strong, and with a demo like this to show off, I’d say the team definitely has a hit on their hands. Give the demo a play for yourself if any of this sounds cool, and share the Kickstarter around so we can see this game finished (hopefully with less than three simultaneous control schemes).
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/nathaniel.jpg”]Nathaniel Liles is a freelance writer, writing major, and indie musician based in Southern Indiana. While procrastinating or avoiding real-world responsibility, Nathaniel enjoys playing rhythm games, action RPGs, and very colorful games with many bright, flashing lights. You can listen to Nathaniel sing songs or download his music for free on his BandCamp page. You can watch him play games on his Twitch channel. You can also follow him on twitter at @NathanielLiles. And finally, you can read more of his writing over at EliteGamingComputers.com. He’s a pretty connected guy.[/author]