How’s this for an exciting beginning to a game? You find yourself alone on a rowing boat, slightly offshore from a beautiful tropical island. Intriguing, huh? Instantly your phone-cum-walkie-talkie, begins to play an audio message of someone screaming, obviously in trouble. A message appears on screen – “Find your Family” – and then Another Dawn begins. No dreary exposition, no long cutscenes to introduce you to main characters or give you an idea of why the hell you are on a boat next to this once idyllic holiday resort. It should be very exciting. Unfortunately I’m afraid to say that it soon turns into a holiday from hell.
I’m not a gamer, nor a reviewer, who takes pleasure from heavily criticising a game. I always appreciate the time and effort it takes to think up an idea, and to then make and develop a game from scratch, especially in the indie development world. In fact, I think you have to take responsibility and dig deep before you rip into a game. With Another Dawn, I struggle to find any compassion, mostly because it’s a very broken game and I struggle to see how and why KR Games have put it out to market. I think we should start by looking at the story though.
When I talk about the story, I’m sort of filling in my own narrative links, because Another Dawn doesn’t give you that many leads. In my eyes, we have been on holiday as we start the game on a boat – albeit on our own for some reason. We know that the scary phone call is from your family because the title says so. As you get onto the island there are dead bodies strewn around, pointing that, when alive, the inhabitants of the island loved swimwear. Yet there are mercenaries patrolling, looking for blood. Soon after that, without spoiling anything, the whole thing takes a bit of a sci-fi turn, but by that point it’s too late because the gameplay has ruined any interest anyone will have in this world.
Gameplay-wise and Another Dawn starts to go a bit pear-shaped, a bit quick; in fact, in the first two minutes. The game is played in the first-person yet the camera sensitivity is dailed up to be off the charts, so much so that it’s only actually playable should you have the reflexes of a superhuman being, or someone on performance-enhancing steroids. For the rest of us mere mortals, the camera sensitivity will need to be switched down – very close to zero – in order for it to be playable like a normal game.
With that sorted, you find yourself with three things to be worried about when you go out onto the island, You have nothing to start with, other than a stamina bar that can be used up by running, actioning combat, or jumping. There is also a survival element where you need to get food and drink to keep those energy levels topped up.
Another Dawn is weird, but ultimately it’s the movement which feels the strangest. In the movie “The Beach”, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character has a trippy sequence where he imagines he is a video game character, running with arms out led by the elbows. That’s how it looks to run and move in this game. It feels weird, not grounded; like a game from 1995 or before. It’s not helped by the fact that simple swimming from the boat to the island is shocking too; the action for swimming carrying on as I walked onto the beach. But all that said, it’s the combat which is the trickiest and most annoying thing of all.
You start the game with just a wrench or a screwdriver you pick up from the beach. Here you can take on the armed militia roaming the holiday resort – you know, as you would, armed with a screwdriver. The problem is that the game wants you to take on the enemies in a stealthy way first of all. But the moment you get near them they detect you and then you’re in all sorts of trouble. The gunmen will spot you from miles away and then follow forevermore, shooting at you from all over the island. Of course, you could go head on to these guys, but if you engage in melee combat there is no weight to the contact so you’re left just slowly flailing a wrench at someone, hoping desperately that they might drop. And when you get access to a gun it’s doesn’t get any better; the aiming is poor and the guards are like bullet sponges, soaking up your very limited ammo.
The game looks nothing more than average at very best, and that is worrying for a title that comes to market fully boasting of optimisation for Xbox Series X|S. There is screen tearing and there are strange animations in place for both climbing and jumping. The character models look like something coming straight out of an Xbox generation from two decades ago and the world doesn’t look real; it’s quite flavourless and uninspiring. Sound-wise it’s okay with some tense music that attempts to build some atmosphere, accompanied by suitable grunts and bits of dialogue from the henchmen.
Another Dawn on Xbox is a very strange game; one that could have been a decent survival-based first-person shooter but fast turns into a mess due to bad mechanics and awful gameplay – it goes wrong from the first minute and you’ll need a whole host of willpower to even attempt to carry on past that moment. And that price? Woah.
Sorry, but I have hated writing this review of Another Dawn almost as much I hated playing it.