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AR-K (Mac) Review

 
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At a Glance...
 

Formats: PC, Mac
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Final Score
5.0
5/ 10


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There are elements of true potential.

Not so much?


Sadly, those elements are not realized in any meaningful sort of way.


Final Fiendish Findings?

AR-K is a point and click adventure following the adventures of Alicia, a journalism student who is still reeling from her unfortunate past. You begin the game with virtually no information about Alicia or her environment, which seems to be a rather futuristic version of our world. As game play begins, you wake up from […]

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Posted August 10, 2014 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

AR-K is a point and click adventure following the adventures of Alicia, a journalism student who is still reeling from her unfortunate past. You begin the game with virtually no information about Alicia or her environment, which seems to be a rather futuristic version of our world.

AR-K-fullscreen-logo

As game play begins, you wake up from what was an apparently raucous night of partying with a hangover and virtually no memory of what (or what) you did the night before. Alicia’s dorm room is very small, and you’ll make quick work of exploring everything in it (and finding very little of value, both in terms of information and usable items), and you’ll soon set out to the university, in search of a particularly unlikable teacher and a missed assignment.

And that’s pretty much the way the game goes – you explore a rather small environment, find only an item or two that provides anything in the way of use or information, and then wander to another small environment and do the same. Such is often the way of these types of games, but there are a few things that can be done to make the process much more engaging, mainly in the way of a good motivational story and a lot of things to explore. Unfortunately, there’s very little in the way of either one to get players truly involved in Alicia’s plight.

Alicia’s story in one that could be rather interesting, if presented properly. There are plenty of good elements, such as a mysterious sphere and a failed career in police work, but they are presented haphazardly and with little engaging context as you work your way through the story. Combine that with Alicia’s air of apathy towards pretty much everything and you’ll soon wonder why you should care, if she doesn’t. The items you can interact with in the various environments are equally poor at engaging your interest, with only a cursory description given by Alicia.

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Even the most phoned in story line can be saved by a great interface and engaging puzzles, but sadly AR-K falls short in this arena as well. Picking usable items up is easy, but using them not so much. To hand something to another character, you need to select it in an inventory that takes up nearly the entire screen, drag it off the inventor and then hand it to the character or use it in the environment. That’s bulky in itself, but on top of that items must be used in exactly the right spot, with no indication of what that might be even when you hit the sweet spot. You may actually have figured out the solution and then move on to something else, simply because you didn’t spill the soda in the right spot.

Speaking of figuring out figuring out the right solution, don’t count too heavily on that either. These puzzles are simply baffling – and not in a “Oh, I never thought of that!” way (it’s more of a “How the heck is anyone supposed to figure that out?” sort of thing). For instance, to get an item you need, you’ll need to combine two different types of sodas and then spill them in exactly the right location. There isn’t any sort of reasoning behind why you would need to spill two combined sodas instead of just one, and also no reason why you use those two sodas over any others – and finding the correct spot to spill it is an absolute pain. Other times, you may figure out quickly what you need (i.e., coffee) but cannot get it by any reasonable means. There is a coffee machine in the lobby – but you can’t just buy a coffee. There is a thermos of coffee on the desk – but you can’t just swipe that. Heck, the diner sells coffee but you can’t get it there either. It’s all just very unintuitive and there’s no reason given for not being able to take a logical route.

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AR-K is a game that does have some potential – the story could be a really good one, given the proper development. The game play could be really engaging, given a good interface and great puzzles. Sadly, it fall falls short on both, leaving players more baffled than entertained.


Amy

 
U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)