I promised it before and here it is, today's blog post is on Safe House for the PC. Make sure you check out my original review over on Geek Nifty first!
Man... Safe House. What can I say? It's a game of busy work with very little story to hold the thing together. That's okay for some people, but I am a very story-centric person. I feel like if you're going to make a game, you either put your all into the story or don't have one. I mean, I can play Flappy Bird all day. No story. Just get between the pipes. But I can also lose myself for weeks on end with Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey. Rich worlds with so much depth to the characters and the story. But when you go for something in the middle... when you offer a weak story that doesn't incentivize me to move forward... then I'm just left with busy work.
Safe House has you managing a 1960s-esque spy movie base. You check with agents at the front door via pass phrases, accept or reject packages based on tracking numbers, forge IDs, build bombs, send out spies, and interrogate witnesses... all for... some reason?
In all fairness, the game does tell you why. You're in an African nation that was colonized by the French and later taken over by the English. It was destabilized years ago by the US, but the installed leader now has communist tendencies and during the Cold War, that's a big no-no for the US. Okay, all pretty standard fair for a '60s spy thriller. But it plays in to the game so little that it might as well not be there. The day-to-day routine has nothing to do with all this insurrection and destabilizing stuff. You're just mashing buttons and repeating commands over and over. They remind you between nights that you're working for the CIA, but it's easy (and tempting) to skip it all. Frankly, the story is boring.
Now, the individual tasks or games they give you aren't bad. Checking a spy's password against a list of words, then giving the counter-password, yeah, it's kinda cool. Forging a passport by dragging and dropping pictures and flags and seals onto the paper is kinda cool. But all of them together is just stress without reward. My agents head out and assassinate people, not me. They go out and spy on people, not me. I wait at the base and upgrade things.
Honestly, it feels like a bad attempt to recreate Fallout: Overseer, the mobile game from Bethesda. Except that game is addictive and fun. And you know, that's maybe where this game should've gone. As a PC game, I'm not sold on repetitive tasks on a time limit, over and over. But as a mobile game, I could probably dig it. I might remove or alter a few games, like cryptography, but then again I have a bias against that game. Anything that requires me to physically pull out a pad and pencil and write things down is already pulling me out of the game and I don't truck with that.
But seriously, this game might not be so bad in small chunks while waiting for fast food or sitting at the DMV. But trying to sell it to me as a full PC experience, especially with clunky controls and atrocious graphics, I'm just not down with it.
And let's talk about those faults for just a moment. At first, the graphics aren't so bad. They're a little kitschy, sure, but at a distance, combined with the catchy spy music, they kinda work. But then they keep on zooming in. They do cut scenes that go close up on these mannequins. They're ugly! They move badly! They look like something out of a 2003 flash game on Newgrounds! Especially when they have cartoon pictures for the speech bubbles, it contrasts so badly that I can't help but notice how bad everything looks.
Add to that the aforementioned bad controls and I just can't handle it. For instance, in the Forgery game, you have six tasks to accomplish. Drag the signature where it goes, the picture where it goes, type in the name, type in the country, and then stamp the proper flag and stamp the seal. Sounds straightforward. But often when I click on the TAB for the flags, the rubber stamper for the SEAL moves, like I clicked on it instead. These two things aren't next to each other. And when you click on anything a second time, it erases the work you've already done, in case you screwed something up and need to redo it. Not realizing this, I've lost more than few rounds of this game because it wouldn't let me click the flags tab until I about the fifth click. Having already stamped the seal, I didn't think to stamp it again, so when I hit submit, BAM! Failure.
The story is forgettable, the click-box detection is off, the grammar and spelling are bad, and often it won't let me upgrade agents. It's buggy, monotonous, and not worth the reward. SPOILER WARNING. In the end, the game gave me an option, story wise, to resign as manager of the safe house. Clearly, the game wanted me to go forward and be a rebel, but I relished the opportunity to click resign and end the game. It then gave me a dreary cut scene (an ugly one, too) of my character as an old man working a boring desk job in a nameless corporation as one of hundreds of identical worker bees. It was like it was trying to punish me for resigning. But when I resigned, it gave me an epilogue of what happened to the country. Peace! Everything worked out fine! Treaties were signed! People lived! Why should I have felt bad about that? Why should feel bad about giving up a life of assassinating people for a stable 9-5 job? It was very heavy handed and missed the mark, at least for me.
Overall, I can't recommend it. I mean, there's something there, something that could work, but the way they laid it out, it's just a lot of "almosts" with no redeemable features.
Check it out at your own risk.
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.