[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]’ve been enjoying the episodic adventure game AR-K as it’s been released and with each chapter it continues to unravel the mystery of the mysterious golden orb and how it relates to the equally mysterious District 8. In The Great Escape, the third installment of the series so far, we take a trip down the rabbit hole into an area of the AR-K that shouldn’t exist at all but does.
Since it’s been quite some time between the second and third episodes I took the liberty of playing through the first half of the game a second time but it’s really not needed. When you load up the game it gives you a brief “previously on” montage but it still doesn’t hurt to take it all in again. To recap, you play as Alicia Van Volish, a disgraced cop in training as a golden orb drops into her lap and she’s forced to leave the force. Not taking it lieing down she decides to go into journalism where it pops up a second time.
But, that’s not all. Thanks to some…undercover work she finds out about a “District 8”, which shouldn’t exist as she’s been told that there are only seven districts on the AR-K. Infiltrating the police compound she falls down a deep shaft into a trash heap. Which is where the second episode of AR-K ends and the third begins. If the land above is a utopia where everyone’s needs are met and nobody wants for anything, then District 8 is the slums in this crazy Cyberpunk world. The thing is that nobody up there knows that it even exists while the workers down below feel like they’re being productive members of society. Oh, what a brave new world we live in, to coin a phrase.
What sets AR-K as a whole apart from other Cyberpunk or dystopian tales is in its use of snark, sarcasm, and just plain crazy humor. Alicia constantly cracks jokes and makes crude remarks about pretty much anything you can click on. Which lands her in hot water on more than one occasion. Her relationship with Frankie is probably the highlight of the series. Which brings it to a whole new level when she gets him to win a drinking contest in drag.
There’s actually not a whole lot of plot in The Great Escape. After Alicia finally wakes up from passing out from the fall she spends the entire episode trying to find a way back up to District 1 with her friends, grabbing the stupid golden sphere on their way up. I won’t spoil why it’s so important but it’s a rather weak MacGuffin to move the story along. Hopefully when the final episode releases we’ll find some closure to all of the nagging questions we’ve been left with. Unfortunately, if the length of time between the second and third chapters are any indication this might take a while.
I will also give Gato Salvaje some credit in that I had absolutely no problem getting through the entire episode, not because the puzzles were easy enough to solve without too much trouble but because I had run into problems with AR-K‘s first episode completely breaking on me when I first played it. This time all three episodes played much smoother without any problems.