From films, games, and books, we’ve learnt that computers are essentially evil, and will eventually kill us all. That’s why I’m always keeping an eye on my router, with a baseball bat at the ready in case it tries to control my mind.
In Cyber Complex the world is a much more complicated place than terminating machines physically, with all the battles taking place online. But, as a game, does it excite like the War Games or disappoint like The Matrix Revolutions?
Cyber Complex is a unique mix of strategy and arcade, all wrapped up in a ’80s-style sci-fi setting. The developers call it a #PAC-TICS game, whatever the hell that is. You can select between Campaign, Survival, Local 2P Coop/Versus, are able to create new stages and play your own creations in order to give the game an infinite lifespan – all of which, for under a tenner, isn’t too bad.
The story goes like this… it’s the year 2041 and global corporations have replaced countries, whilst the neuro interface implant has become a requirement to work – a requirement to survive in fact. Everything, and everyone, is connected and that means every single move is tracked and there is no more space for citizens to express their individuality. The Eurasian V-Eye Corporation have started to implant a new compulsory brain mod that was meant to improve the population’s productivity and for the most part it worked. But not quite the way it should have. The new implant robbed all of the last scrap of free will, right down to their last bit of individuality. But in this environment of total control, some began to wake up and regain their humanity. And that is where us gamers come in, as we play the part of the resistance, utilising a special kit to infiltrate the systems. But how do we do this?
I will be honest – from my initial look at Cyber Complex it took me two days (not straight, I should add) before I could work out how to play this game. Now it’s not the game’s fault, as there is a sort of tutorial to help you out, but I just couldn’t get my mind to compute it. Then suddenly it clicked and very quickly I was addicted and having a good time. The game’s premise is based on a grid system where there are red areas that need capturing by your blue ball. As soon as you capture an area it alerts the computer defences and red orbs fly after you to destroy your blue ball. It works basically like a mix of tower defence crossed with a Pacman style. You move across the screen tactically, trying to gain ground piece by piece, whilst trying not to be overwhelmed by the red counter attacks. When you see all the bases turn blue, and all the defences have been destroyed, then you’ve completed that level.
It is that simple, but be aware of the simplicity because it is very addictive and a lot of fun. Some might be put off by Cyber Complex straight away, because it is a bit like playing an upgraded version of Battleships or Sudoku, and there aren’t many surprises in its diversity or complexity in the gameplay, but I guess that’s the point. It’s got one selling point and it sticks to it very well.
There are a lot of levels in the main campaign to get through, with some spider boss stages that can get very tricky. There is the survival mode that is exactly what we’ve seen before, rewarding you dependant on how far you get without dying. Then there is the local co-op mode that means you can play together against the evil red corp, or play against each other for some tight battles of wit and verve. There is a lot in this game for the price and if you like the gameplay there is a lot to do. If not though, well…. there’s nothing for you.
Story wise it’s a text-based affair dealing with corporate espionage and future societies. It didn’t sell the story to me at all and I kinda switched off a bit after the first few attempts, as the text is tricky to read in its Casio font and maybe it needed a bit of a voice over to help put the narrative across. In the looks department the game does what it does well, but its simplicity makes it feel like something that could run off your aging phone or smart watch quite easily. It’s all ‘80s tone, type and interface, which you will either like or hate. The design is modest though and the developers do it well. The sound again is all electronic bleeps, synths and effects that again go well with the tone and aesthetic, but it’s not ground-breaking.
Overall though, Cyber Complex is a neat little puzzle game, with tower defence elements thrown in over a tiny hint of Pacman. When I finally worked out how to actually play the game, I had a lot of fun with it and it’s a great title to dip in and out of for five minutes at a time. There are a lot of modes on offer and the local co-op is a highlight. However there isn’t much to the game apart from what you see and that can get boring quite quickly. The visuals, sound and story are basic but okay, so if you love a puzzle and a bit of quick entertainment, maybe take a chance and teach those future computers some human respect.