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DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex (PC) Review

 
DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex (PC) Review image
DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex (PC) Review image
DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex (PC) Review image

 
At a Glance...
 

Formats: PC
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
5.0
5/ 10


User Rating
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We liked?


Head scratching challenge
Well constructed maze altering concept

Not so much?


Lack of narrative
Poor use of setting
Frustrating control system


Final Fiendish Findings?

DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex has some promising elements of gameplay thanks to its challenging alteration of the maze levels as you move through them, and is a strong example of the genre. But the lacklustre graphics, musical score and an absence of narrative makes progress tiring and lacking in any real reward.

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Posted November 4, 2012 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

I’m no psychologist, but I’m guessing the human subconscious is one messed up place to find yourself in. That is the premise, and major failing, of DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex. A 1st person maze game which finds you floating through your subconscious trying to recapture fragments of your soul in order to escape back to reality.

DeadEnd certainly hits you with a decent head scratching challenge though. As you move through the mazes, corridors suddenly become dead ends and dead ends become corridors. This means that a fair amount of thought is required to work out where you’ve gone, and how you could get to that allusive part of your soul that’s now behind a brick wall. With no map, no compass and no real easy way of navigating, I resorted to sketching out one of the levels just to try and work out a route that I hadn’t yet exploited.

DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex (PC) Review image

Teleportation modules and reality inverters (which switches around blocked and unblocked routes) add an extra layer of complexity to the otherwise simple gameplay. On the whole, DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex is a game that requires a certain amount of thought and provides exactly the sort of challenge you would expect from a maze based puzzle game. It’s a deeply frustrating challenge that forces you to kick your logical thinking synapses into gear. Thankfully the developers have allowed for a 70% completion threshold before allowing you to progress to the next chapter. So if you are completely stuck finding the last part of your soul on a level then there is a good chance you’ll still be able to move onto the next challenge and revisit the level at a later date.

It’s just as well the gameplay is quite involving however because the controls are a real low point. You move on a grid system and can only move one space at a time by clicking the mouse button. This does stretch out the gameplay length and it helps to retain the atmosphere that DeadEnd tries to inject into each of the levels. But it’s an incredibly clunky way to move your character and quite tiring on the left mouse button. Keyboard users and those who prefer to invert the Y axis controls will be disappointed to learn that no such options exist either. Why this movement system was implemented I’m not quite sure, but when you are having to consistently retrace your steps through the maze levels it certainly works against your enjoyment of the game.

DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex (PC) Review image

Graphically the game looks incredibly tired and dated. It lacks crisp hi-resolution textures and the levels are constructed mostly through a cut and paste of the same handful of textures. The soul is represented by cubes that are oddly sci-fi in appearance, they wouldn’t look out of place in Portal. Thankfully there is enough variety in each level that you never get too tired of the same maze unless you have to spend a significant amount of time in there when trying to progress through to the next chapter.

Atmosphere is possibly my biggest gripes with DeadEnd however, and it’s more down to a missed opportunity than anything else. The setting the game places you in, your subconscious, is perfectly ripe for some wild and imaginative interpretation. Yet the levels are sparse on detail, terror, horror, humanity and narrative. Early on the game takes place in both a morgue and an insane asylum. Yet those settings are never expanded upon or explained.

DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex (PC) Review image

When you consider how well a similar narrative was delivered in other games such as Dear Esther, DeadEnd falls very short of delivering a compelling story that rewards your play through. As such once you become bored with the premise and the gameplay, there is no galvanising reason to continue onwards. The music that accompanies the gameplay is a by the numbers affair, complete with eerie chords and long drawn out electronic notes. But overall it’s blandness and heavy repetition means that you’ll soon try to mute it, only to find out that there isn’t an option available for that either.

DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex has some promising elements of gameplay thanks to its challenging alteration of the maze levels as you move through them, and is a strong example of the genre. But the lacklustre graphics, musical score and an absence of narrative makes progress tiring and lacking in any real reward.


Adam

 
Playing games since I'd developed enough motor functions to hold a joystick. From Commodore 64 all the way through to the latest gen. Favourite games to play are FPS games and anything with a deep and compelling story and a world that draws you in. I also enjoy writing, film making and playing bass in whatever band will have me :)