About This Game
About the game :
In the year of 2230, Mining and Research vessel Tartarus (MRS TARTARUS 220478) activates the security protocol near Neptune without any sign. The only chance for crew to survive is to reach the Bridge and restart all systems one by one before the ship crashes into Neptune. We are playing as Cooper(cook and miner of the ship) who has no education or training about electronics or pilotage; to overcome this, vessels engineer ”Andrews” is helping us as much as he can. Though it’s not as easy as it sounds…
About the gameplay :
TARTARUS is a First Person game with Action elements, set in terrifyingly dark sci-fi universe. In TARTARUS, you will play as Cooper. You are trying to hack the ship’s system’s via using "Terminals". Hacking the ship is the real challenge. You have to use specific Terminal commands, which are very realistic, to make it work. Sometimes you have to search "Items" to get information which you need, to solve problems. TARTARUS has retro style elements like iconic sci-fi movies.
-First Person Action
-Immersive storytelling with a rich and simple gameplay
-Advanced text based puzzles
- Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
- OS: 64 bit: Windows 7/8/10
- Processor: Pentinum(R) Dual-Core CPU E5700 @ 3.00 GHz
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia GT 730 2GB DDR3
- DirectX: Version 10
- Storage: 8 GB available space
- Additional Notes: 21:9 Ratio is not supported Pen & Paper – Headphones ———————Doors locked – Lights off —–███████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ ░░░░░░░░█░░░░░░░░█░░░░░░███░░░░░░░░█░░░░░░░░█░░░░░░███░░████░░█░░░░░░░░ ███░░████░░████░░█░░████░░████░░████░░████░░█░░████░░█░░████░░█░░██████ ███░░████░░░░░░░░█░░░░░░██████░░████░░░░░░░░█░░░░░░███░░████░░█░░░░░░░░ ███░░████░░████░░█░░████░░████░░████░░████░░█░░████░░█░░████░░███████░░ ███░░████░░████░░█░░████░░████░░████░░████░░█░░████░░█░░░░░░░░█░░░░░░░░ ███████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████
-Graphics and atmosphere are great.
-Pretty decent story.
-You can turn off motion blur and "input lag", which I guess are supposed to make it more atmospheric.
-Voice acting is actually cringe-inducing. It’s also 1 dude voicing the only 2 characters in the game.
-Puzzles are too easy. Half the time of solving the puzzle was trying to figure out what it wants me to do, the other half is typing out the commands.
-Looks like the english translator gave up about half way through the game. ("Press ‘e’ to wear suite", Seriously?)
-Space walk part was boring, and all the models outside are very low res for some reason.
-Final puzzle was basically a 5-minute-long math problem, there was almost no thought involved.
-Final part of the game is what actually made me want to sit down and write this review, because it frustrated me so much. The whole game you’re going along solving puzzles at your own pace. No death, no setbacks. All of a sudden it switches to an Alien style game, where you’re trying to hide from the alien, except in this game the bad guy has a gun that 1-shots you from any range, sometimes around walls. This last part took me about and hour to do.
Overall, this game isn’t terrible, but that last part, man.
2nd last puzzle had me stumped over numbers in my fizzled brain and I had to take a break.
Ending mechanics are confusing and sloppy but the concept is cool, hope you enjoy hearing the same dialogue about 25 times
You are a cook and a miner, not many more skills than that, and neither of them are relatable to the tasks you are about to face. If you play the game from that perspective then all your anger and frustration will be worth it when you figure stuff out. It feels bada$$ typing in commands and using the terminals. Ive completed the first two major terminal puzzles with no help and LOVING tartarus so far. I keep expecting an alien to pop out and chase me. Write stuff down, take your time, enjoy the situation youre in, because THATS why its fun.
-voice acting is nice (until you have to hear it repeated)
-movement is fluid and easy to get around
-I didnt like the elevator keypad face being a texture instead of a rendered object
-During 2nd terminal puzzle I was hoping for a more environmental change and experience during completion instead of everything being within the terminal.
-turning knobs for mid filler
Tartarus gets often mistakenly compared to modern horror-survival type games like Alien:Isolation and Penumbra, but instead is much more related to older Myst and Zork series, point&click puzzle genre, which were quite common and popular back in the 90’s. Trying to label Tartarus as a ‘horror-survival game with a twist’ is doing more harm than good. It isn’t a survival game like Alien. It isn’t a jump scare horror Penumbra. The part where you move around, interact with the environment, talk with other crew members and read ship logs, is just a shell to explain the background story. In the old days, this part would likely be just a wall of text and some static screens or simple pre-rendered animations, but now we have the technology to modernize the story telling part. Thank you Unreal 4 and Unity engine.
The real core of the game present you with puzzles that you have to solve in order to proceed further. They aren’t simple task encountered in SOMA, where player has to press switches in the correct order; they aren’t riddles like in The Station, where player has to read clues and connect the dots (fyi: nothing wrong with that kind of challenges). Puzzles in Tartarus are full-scale challenges, that may take an hour or two to solve each. In most cases, player has to interact with in-game computer, connect or launch programs through in-game terminal (command line interface – CLI), figure out what the problem is and solve the problem through logic, mathematics and brain storming. Excel is your friend, so is pen and paper. Prepare to stare to a screen for a long time, asking yourself ‘dafuq am I suppose to do’ and a lot of WTF moments in general. Common occurrence for old games, but quite uncommon for Call of Duty generation.
Sometimes you have navigate through terminal, find the correct folder, open designated .txt file, copy the parameters from stored backup and paste them into production program. Other puzzles task you to ventilate the storage room by manipulating valves, changing permissions and security locks. In next puzzle you have to hack into a computer and decipher a MORSE code. The most challenging puzzles will need you to calculate correct power values and parameters to cool and shut down the nuclear reactor. You heard that right.
So, puzzles are core of the game. They are the greatest feature of the game, but also its downfall. The solution to any puzzle you encounter is ALWAYS simple, straightforward and linear, but finding the clues and methods is not. Opening a a pressure valve through manipulation is not a hard challenge, although it doesn’t make sense that valve will only react to pressure 16.998 Pa, but not 16.999 or 17.0 Pa. To complicate things even further, some puzzles requires of you to input all parameters to be correct in order to solve equation, if any of those 8 numbers is wrong, you only get a ‘FAIL’ message. There is no intermediary step. Combine this with very limited instructions with principle RTFM in mind (if you don’t know what RTFM means, this game probably isn’t meant for you) and command line interface from DOS era – same work flow, different names for commands; you are left pretty much on your own to solve the puzzles. Not holding your hands anywhere. It helps that you know how to use DOS/unix terminal, the basic of IP topology and most importantly, some physic lessons from the elemental school.
For most modern games that would try to integrate this type of CLI puzzles, I would slap a negative review instantly. Not this game. Even though for the most part of my gameplay, I was raging and nodding my head, explaining my wife why I am walking through the flat mumbling along about reactor rod heights. This game is different. It abruptly requires you to forget most of the modern gameplay styles and return to the past games and computer reality, where you had a problem, and you had to brain storm through it. I love it.
I would only recommend the game to specific subset of gamers, definitely a minority, because developers had the guts to do something unique and fresh (even though they failed at the execution). It is an unique experience, but not a very good game unfortunately. I applaud the developers for doing something different, but also slap their hands for making such obvious mistakes. Next time please do better!
Game is also available for Linux native, which is a big high-five!
PS: I intentionally did not mention and left out the last boss fight. It never happened.
That being said, the developers are steadily rolling out small patches that are improving some of the issues described in this reivew. I’ll try to reflect those changes in this review, so it’s up to date.
+ Awesome "retro-futuristic" aesthetic is a nice change of pace from other sci-fi games and lends a bit more personality to Tartarus
+ Responsive development team appears receptive to feedback and on top of bugfixes.
+ It feels really cool and immersive to sit at terminals and input commands in the process of solving puzzles. In fact, I wish more puzzle games would take a cue from Tartarus in this regard.
– When you drill down into it, the game has only four puzzles, and a couple of other segments that might be loosely considered puzzles. This can be a very short game.
– A pretty weak plot, with an ending segment that (without spoiling it) is just terrible and goes against the spirit and mechanics of the rest of the game.
– Your character moves quite slow and while they can "jog" slightly faster for short distances, they’ll tire quickly. I feel like a better "solution" would have been to give you a single movement speed that is faster than the default walk, but slower than a run–especially since your movement speed has no bearing on the game’s mechanics until the final "puzzle". Exacerbating matters, the player’s character will produce a RAPID breathing noise (almost like they’re hyperventilating or shivering to death) while they jog NOTE: The developers recently released a patch that improved the audio for running.
– Strangely inconsistent graphical quality: Sometimes Tartarus looks pretty great, but other times it’s a surprisingly ugly game; many areas are unnecessarilly large and sparse, almost as if they’re unfinished (SEE PHOTO BELOW). With such a small development team and budget, this doesn’t come off as a huge surprise, but perhaps it would have been better for Tartarus to use more abstract aesthetics (i.e. "Tacoma" or "The Witness") to better conceal its rough visual edges.
– Occasionally poor "mission" guidance: There’s a difference between a game refusing to hold your hand, and opaque/unfriendly game design. Often times, Tartarus falls into the latter category. For instance, at one point your objective is to "Go to the Navcomm Room", but it’s not entirely clear which room is the Navcomm room. As a crew member of the ship, this would be obvious to the player’s character, but it’s never made clear to the player. Eventually–perhaps by simply exploring every area you physically can–you’ll find a room with a small morse code chart on a table and some equipment that, through some imagination and scrutiny, may suggest you’ve found the Navcomm room (although to be clear, many of the rooms are crammed full of sci-fi equipment)…but then what? The objective remains the same: "Go to the Navcomm Room." The fact that the objective didn’t update made me question whether or not I’d actually found the correct room. Only after examining every nook and crany of the area several times did I discover that I needed to interact with a small panel in order to speak with another crew member, thereby advancing the plot.
NOTE: The developers recently released a patch to improve the issues described below; I haven’t been able to play the game since the update, so I can’t confirm how much easier it is to navigate this segment, but it’s good to see that they’re working on improving it:
Similarly, upon donning a spacesuit and exiting the vessel, I’m provided with the objective of finding an "exterior hatch". Okay…this ship is the size of an enormous aircraft carrier floating through an asteroid field…maybe the game/player/NPC could provide some better guidance than that, so I don’t spend the next 10-15 minutes crawling through space looking for a hatch of some sort? For example, "the hatch you’re looking for should be about halfway down on the port side" or "from where you are, you’re going to have to head to the opposite end of the ship; look for a glowing red antenna." Again, this might be the sort of knowledge the player’s character would possess, but no effort is made to convey that knowledge to the player.
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I recieved this game for reviewing purposes
Don’t waste your time with this game.
Terrible Voice Acting
Clip through doors
Poor puzzle design
Poor gameplay design
Forced cinematics and storytelling
Do you get one Hour of gameplay per $6 paid?: No, unless you count standing around trying to figure out what the ♥♥♥♥ to do.
Ease of 100%: Apparently you can get them all by playing. I have zero interest however.
(100% Being all achievements, Unlocks, Upgrades, Ect.)
Game does virtually no handholding and the puzzles can be extremely difficult from the start.