Random Article


 
Must See..
 

Volume (PS4) Review

 
volume logo header
volume logo header
volume logo header

 
At a Glance...
 

Formats: PS4, PC (PS Vita soon)
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
8.5
8.5/ 10


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We Liked?


  • Distills stealth to its very core
  • Ingenuity in design of tools
  • Solid story delivered smartly

Not So Much?


  • Poorly executed voice work is startlingly out of place for main character
  • Some occasional AI wobbles


Final Fiendish Findings?

What Mike Bithell, and his cohorts as Mike Bithell Games, have created is an incredibly compact and slick distillation of the stealth genre. They’ve extrapolated the very essence of what the stealth genre was conceived as and pulled it through into a modern spotlight. It’s slick, well presented and produced.

0
Posted November 11, 2015 by

 
Final Fiendish Findings?
 
 
W

hen the unassuming figure of Mike Bithell, creator of the superb Thomas Was Alone, tells you his next game is going to be different you take note and move on wondering what tweaks he’ll do to improve his wonderful platformer. Then when you finally see it and it’s TOTALLY different you’re taken aback…. This is Volume.

Loosely playing around with the fable of Robin Hood, Volume sees you take control of a virtual avatar known only as Rob Locksley (Based on the antiquarian Roger Dodsworth’s observation in the 1500s on Robin of Loxley). This young scamp has located a machine and, through clever means and movie based hacking, rigged it to show his daring virtual heists to the world. To what end you say? Surely Youtube isn’t that desperate for content?

volume gheader

Well the majority of the UK has become impoverished by the middle of this century whilst the wealthy just get richer (wait… is this actually now?). Locksley plans on helping the people take back what’s been kept from them by showing them exactly how to break into certain high value targets and beat the security defences. All this in the aid of taking down the central figure Guy Gisbourne, the man responsible for the widespread corruption in the UK.

So another strong and compelling narrative is in play and forms a real bond between Thomas and Volume. Not in reality but in spirit of execution. But what kind of game is Volume?

Volume is, and I can’t emphasise this point enough, a stealth title. Not a game with stealth elements. Not a stealth and exploration title. No Volume is a Stealth game and it deserves that capital S! Mike Bithell has spoken often that the early Metal Gear games have been his inspiration and this is his homage to those titles.

volume image1

If you ever spent some quality time with the Metal Gear VR missions then you might have a passing idea of what Volume has in store for you. The levels are bright, flat and colourful polygons fill the construct space all with a clean and crisp look and feel. This is VR represented in a 80’s movie with the clean execution of a modern day product. Each level has a simple premise, collect the items you need and escape without getting caught. It’s simple… so go do it…. yeah… now you see!

Littering these numerous levels (and there are scores!) are various obstacles, traps and guards waiting for you to happen across their path. Simply traversing the level you must avoid noisy floor panels, watchful guards and an assortment of other items all hoping to bring you down. If they DO manage that then thankfully the game has a very generous checkpointing system. Sometimes a little too generous as often you can cheese your way through, sprint past a checkpoint, then die but have cleared a tricky part with minimal effort.volume screen 1

To help make your task easier the game offers up a series of tools. Items like the Bugle, which shoots a projectile that, upon your command, lets out a noise distracting guards. The tools are metered out slowly over the levels and help keep you coming back and trying to unearth the next useful item. It’s Volumes use of these tools that introduces some real ingenuity to the mix. Sending out a doppelgänger to distract a guard or lacing a guards route with a stun tripwire. Another favourite is the projected item of interest that makes a guard just turn and face a certain spot on a wall where you’ve just deploy a picture frame. These are all simple and maybe obvious little ideas that have been expertly tuned and implemented to get maximum value from them. Similar things might have been done before, but never this well and in such a pure environment. At around 6’ish hours to complete the main bulk of levels the game never feels anything less than a well rounded experience. A full featured editor also helps extend life indefinitely.

Even a title as well executed as Volume can have a few areas that might distract from the games overall achievements. My main focus for complaint isn’t really with the mechanics or the actual gameplay themselves. These have been kept simple yet used in ever increasingly intricate ways. No my issue comes from the main character himself, Rob Locksley. When you have incredible talent like Danny Wallace (returning from his sterling job on Thomas Was Alone to play the voice of the narrator/VR construct) and Andy, whoops I just happen to be Gollum, Serkis (voicing Gisbourne) you need a main character who can hold their own… Sadly the voice work for Locksley mostly grated on me. A nasally drama school portrayal that, despite being justified in some way narratively, just felt drastically out of place. A moderate blemish on an otherwise well crafted and, importantly, great fun game.

volume image 2

Final Thoughts

What Mike Bithell, and his cohorts as Mike Bithell Games, have created is an incredibly compact and slick distillation of the stealth genre. They’ve extrapolated the very essence of what the stealth genre was conceived as and pulled it through into a modern spotlight. It’s slick, well presented and produced. As the Mr Bithell promised, Volume is a total design departure from Thomas Was Alone – yet Volume still hangs on the same principles that made Thomas so great. Solid design, simple mechanics used with ingenuity and a strong storyline.

As a person who has never appreciated a stealth game to any great degree Volume was a tough review prospect for me. What I found was that due to the design I was able to access a stealth title and come away with a greater appreciation for a genre I’d previously avoided say for tentpole titles (MGS, Dishonoured, Thief).

The odd bit of frustration at seemingly impossible rooms is to be expected. It’s not pleasant but comes with the territory. The point is that these are all doable and you will have the ‘Eureka!’ moment.

With the prospect of countless user created levels to come I can only see Volume growing in both size and stature over the coming year. Based on the diversity between titles I’m just waiting for Mike to announce he’s working on a flight simulator sometime soon!

The product under review was provided by the creator, manufacturer, publisher or their PR representative free of charge and without caveat. Please see our site review policy for more information.

Family Fiends Findings?

  • Rated T for Teen by the ESRB & 12 by PEGI
  • Fantasy violence in a virtual world – characters are not realistic
  • Suggestive themes that might be picked up on by some older children
  • User generated content and social interactions that is largely unfiltered
  • Mild bad language

Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.