[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]here is a love-hate relationship towards adventure games that focus heavily on puzzles. While it can certainly be a polarizing concept the popularity of this type of game cannot be denied. Microids’ Subject 13 was successfully funded on Kickstarter nearly a year ago and over 600 people certainly thought it was worth being made.
That said, Subject 13 can be an exceedingly hard game due to some of the puzzles being high on the difficulty slider. While most can be solved with enough time, trial-and-error, and the occasional hint from the built-in hint system (the big ? in the top-right corner can flash when one is available) there are a few that practically require a Mensa level intelligence to get past.
Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit on that last part but I spent at least an hour trying to figure out the solution to a number cipher problem near the end only to have to “cheat” and consult a video walkthrough to get past it. Still, despite that major issue I pretty much enjoyed the rest of the puzzles in Subject 13. And I don’t blame Microids for this but just that I’m horrible at number games. Some do seem to take a degree of lateral thinking but most shouldn’t pose too much of a hurdle.
Puzzles aside, the basic plot for Subject 13 is that you’re stranded on an island and you’re essentially being tested by a voice in your head. You have no clue how you got there but the opening cinematic clearly shows that you tried to kill yourself by driving your car in into the ocean (or some other body of water) and you’re rescued just before you perish. And then you wake up in an abandoned lab with only your own wits and the guiding voice. There’s a very good reason for having to go through these hoops but I won’t spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say that Franklin Fargo (i.e. “Subject 13”) has an intellect that’s far superior to the average human.
The vast majority of the story is told through logs and other “testimonies” (as they’re called in Subject 13) and they’re not exactly hard to spot. With the exception of those unlocked directly by solving puzzles these recordings can be found lieing around pretty much anywhere and look like a bright yellow recording device. These together weave the tale of what transpired on the island and the research being conducted there. And we’re not talking about mundane sciency stuff, either. We’re dealing with hardcore physics, yo!
You’ll be moving Franklin around like you normally would in a point-and-click adventure game, and you’ll be picking up plenty of things to add to your inventory, but the vast majority of the game is really done in a first-person close-up of the puzzle in question. And while there is some repetition you’ll be forced to dig deep into your grey matter in several different styles of gameplay. Some are even deceptively simple.
For a game that focuses heavily on puzzles Subject 13 does have a pretty deep story and is one not to be missed if you can make it through the gauntlet of mindbenders.