Usually when you start a new game, you have a bit of an idea on what it could be about and what type of experience you’ll have when you start playing it. With G Prime: Into the Rain, I was confused from the outset. Described by the developers, Soma Games, as a ‘Steampunk Slingshot Puzzler set in space’, the only thing I knew at this point was that my limited puzzler skill-set would be called upon and tested. Time to get frustrated in space, I thought.
Through the first cinematic you find out that the people of the planet Ptah have noticed that a dark mass has steadily grown in the night’s sky. As it’s grew in size they also noticed that it was heading straight for them. Now, rather than running to the hills in fear, as any normal sane person would, the corporations and nations of Ptah thought they’d do the opposite and indeed send forth spaceships to investigate the growing anomaly. It’s at this point that the very brave citizens of Ptah start calling the black thing in the sky ‘The Rain’. I have no idea why… and from what I have played of the game, neither do they.
It so happens that when these spaceships reach The Rain they find that huge amounts of profitable resources within. Hence starts a mass event; countless fleets of explorers are sent from these large corporations to pillage The Rain for everything it’s got. You are one of these explorers. And your ‘adventure’ is about to begin.
Your first task is to choose the corporation you work for and then understand your surroundings within your ship. Choosing your corporation isn’t fruitful and the only different I saw between them was their company logo. I went for what shape caught my eye best. From that you move onto a very simple game hub which with four monitors that you can highlight to access settings panels to twiddle with. It’s then completely left up to you to explore and find out what each screens holds.
You are then launched (pun intended) into the first of the seven sectors you will be hopefully mining all those delicious resources from. To do this mining you fire rockets from your spaceship and have them connect or ‘ping’ as close as possible to the various and multiple target resources on the screen. Sounds simple? It isn’t. You must use your understanding of gravitational pull to hit these targets without colliding into obstacles that are in the way. Each of these obstacles have their own gravitational field, and here lies the puzzle element: successful navigate around the obstacles whilst collecting all the resources, using as little rockets as possible as they cost in-game currency. Your aim is to slingshot your way to ultimate victory by shooting that one rocket that hits all resources in one go, and doing so is a truly rewarding feeling. Selecting your rocket’s path is done by moving a dial around, think the icon in Pop Cap’s Peggle. Choose the trajectory and you will see the rocket’s projected path. Once happy with the path you simply fire your rocket, and it’s away.
So far, so good I here you say. Well, yes and no. The challenge of judging the trajectory of your rockets is fun but then, unfortunately this game starts to let you down . As I suggested previously, G Prime doesn’t hold your hand. I spent almost an hour still in the first sector, which is the tutorial sector. Which, by the law of the universe, should be where players are tutored into knowing all the tricks that would be needed to succeed. It isn’t. I stumbled upon the fact that you have a certain amount of fuel in your rockets, allowing you to alter your course. It was also through accident that I happened upon further options for the trajectory for your rocket – pressing the bumper buttons allows you to add more speed to the rockets launch and so on.
There’s more than in-game obstacles to contend with, the camera angle is another barrier to your fun and rocket accuracy. When the rocket is in flight it’s horrendous. The screen automatically zooms from a map view of the spaceship, obstacles and resources to a zoomed in side-on angle of the rocket. You will find yourself frantically rotating the right analogue stick hoping to get a better view of the resources you’re aiming for, and the various obstacles you are desperate to avoid. Timing this and using the fuel within your rocket to avoid wasting more rockets is, again, a rewarding but ultimately frustrating challenge that had me fuming at times. Yet the rewarding feeling of completing a section to move on to the next within a sector is what people play puzzle games for.
I’d certainly advise anyone thinking of picking up G Prime to read the in-game manuals. There is a ton of information about the corporation’s histories, the planets and solar systems and an actual guide on how to use the rockets. However, even with adequate knowledge on how to play effectively the awkward camera, limited mechanics and repetitive experience won’t hold your attention for too long.
Thanks to Xbox and Soma Games for their support
Written by Neale Jarratt
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