Need to know
What is it? A cyberpunk RPG where you’re a gamer/detective
Developer Anshar Studios
Publisher Anshar Publishing
Release Out now
Reviewed on GTX 1080 Ti, Intel i7-8086K, 16GB RAM
Link Official site (opens in new tab)
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In the days before the ubiquity of the internet, stumped gamers would sometimes phone a tip line for a bit of life-saving advice. Nintendo’s ‘game counselors’ in particular had a near-mythical status, and a gig that every kid dreamed of having. The reality was less impressive, less glamorous, but the idealised version—encyclopaedic knowledge of games, completed Battletoads blindfolded, probably owns a sweet leather duster—lives on in Gamedec, where they serve as fixers in virtual worlds.
VR is more than a novelty in Warsaw City, a gloomy dystopia in the 22nd century. People while away the hours in their digital realms, nurturing crops in free-to-play timesinks or duking it out on fantasy battlefields. And when something goes wrong, that’s when the descendants of game counselors, the titular gamedecs, get a call. With their specialist skills, they help players who get stuck, hunt down exploits and, occasionally, solve very real murders. I always knew playing loads of adventure games would make me a great detective.
The childhood fantasies that most RPGs trade in are long established, but Gamedec’s setup is a more modern brand of wish fulfilment. You’re a gamer who is just so damn good at games that you can hop between virtual worlds solving problems, solving crimes, and making big wads of cash in the process. It’s silly, but also grounded, creating a web of themes and crises that feel so much more relevant than any demonic or alien invasion.
(Image credit: Anshar Studios)
When I found myself in a dino-hunting game I got my hopes up, but I was there for all of 10 minutes, most of which was taken up by scripted sequences. I got to see one dinosaur. It was dead. “Maybe I’ll be able to give it an autopsy,” I prayed. No such luck. Taking on weird cases as a VR super sleuth is the seductive fantasy at the heart of the game, and the hook that makes up for its many rough edges, so Gamedec’s biggest mystery might be why it veers off in this other direction.
It didn’t help that bugs required me to play through several sections of the worst part of Gamedec again, though they are by no means limited to the second half. There are broken quests, conversations that trap you in a dialogue box forever, animations that leave you stuck in mid-air, characters you can’t interact with but are still told to interrogate—I learned to quicksave frequently.
Gamedec had heaps of promise, but the bugs, inconsistencies and that jarring pivot leave it feeling rushed and confused. And it’s all the more disappointing because it’s so obvious that there’s a great game in here somewhere, it just didn’t get finished.
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