Writer’s note: This is my take on the first parts released for the new game that is still in development meaning that changes at later dates could be afoot after this review goes live. I’m posting this review so the developers can get honest feedback on what I think of the title. Also, since this is being labeled as an interactive radio drama, it is important to see what works, what doesn’t, and how it all plays out as far as the app I have in mind for Astral Audio entertainment. Detailed opinions will be written in a post that dove tails off this one. With that being said, we are being whisked away to tend to other more important matters. Onward with the mission … I mean review!
The Set up: You take on the role of a secret agent that has to stop a hostage situation by someone called Neptune; the leader of an eco-activist organization called Trident. Will you be able to solve the mystery and make it in time?
From the first moments of the free prologue, we know what this game’s tone is going to be like; cheesy one-liners, over the top jazz type musical numbers, colorful characters, and multiple choice actions/reactions which you can make with the tap of a finger or the sound of your voice. Easy to grasp and dive in head or feet first. This is a good thing since there isn’t much action going on screen and the player has to resort to hearing which may throw some people off if they don’t read the game’s description ahead of time. You don’t have to invest a lot of time to learn the controls. You can just open up the ap and go. Good for the person who only has a few minutes to spare or someone who hasn’t really taken iOS games for a spin.
Where the game shines is in the voice acting department which isn’t surprising when you have actors from Bastion and Red Dead Redemption on board. Each person you encounter is believable in his or her role which is good. They virtually pull you along as you try to work out the motivations. They force you to think like a spy. They won’t all play it straight but that isn’t the point here since you are in a pulp style scenario. As long as you keep that in mind, you will hopefully enjoy the tone of the game.
The story moves along at a stuttering pace that is a tad slow to start but ebbs and flows with the momentum of the scenarios presented. This is good. We are allowed to feel invested in the characters and what consequences may occur if we make a particular decision. It does have some scenes which you may or may not see coming when you play through the game for the first time.
Where the game begins to falter is when it wields the double-edged sword of choice. The positives are that you have input on character reactions and small plot progressive beats. Will you be bold or clever? Will you be athletic or secretive? Valid choices considering your chosen line of work to be sure. You can even look at a chart that shows how your character is adding up on these traits as you move through the story.
However, when you are given only two primary options for a given scenario, the lack of variety is a bit tedious as you progress. It doesn’t help that your “guide” asks you at each proverbial fork in the road which action you are going to take; making it feel more like an extended tutorial rather than the experience that lets you make a gut decision like a spy would when presented with a problem.
Other issues are as follows. The fact the game prompts you to log into Facebook. I personally don’t mind this since I do have (and use) an account. I do see how this would turn some potential players off. This is being addressed in an upcoming update to the game. Nice to know the developers are keeping their ears to the ground as it were. When presented with an option to listen in on a conversation, the idea of tapping which is supposed to simulate your character turning the hearing device to the right to activate it is a bit off in execution.
Sale’s Pitch: Codename Cygnus is a nice throwback to a time when you’d huddle by the radio and listen to the adventures of your favorite pulp hero and wait to discover what would happen next. The repetitive nature of being given instructions and having to carry out said actions proves to disengage and distract from the overall experience. Also, the revelations in the story are a nice touch; however, your actions do not present multiple narratives — either way, you end up at the same end result. Because of this, I give the first part of Codename Cygnus two out of five knocked out guards. It is a fun start to an iOS title that has great potential. Give it a try and let the folks at Reactive Studios know what you think.
Reading the above, you may think I thoroughly disliked the game and won’t keep playing which isn’t my state of mind or intent. I appreciate the effort put into the production and consider it a fine start for things to come. There is much to improve upon but this isn’t a bad thing. If enough people buy the game’s content, they can maybe implement these suggestions in future updates/sequels. So what would I change and why? To find out, come back next week when I’ll unleash some in depth feedback on what could be done.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read this review. Have something to say about it and/or the game? Post a comment. Share it if you love or hate it. You are what keeps this online experience alive.