Developer: HYBRIONA TECHNOLOGIES LLP
Size: 102.3 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Project VOID is a game that revels in tricks and disguises. It’s a game that promises to make you feel like a “real explorer and mystery solver”.
Arguably the biggest deception at play in this so-called “mind-bending alternate reality game”, however, is the pretense that there’s a certain level of depth and sophistication to its patchwork puzzles. There really isn’t.
The game repeatedly bashes you over the head with advice to use every resource available to you, and to be an opportunist. But what this essentially translates to is ‘just Google it’.
You’ll be tasked with providing answers to a series of often poorly worded questions, which could be the title of a book, the date of a TV show screening, or the location of a park. To solve each conundrum you’ll be provided with a solitary visual aid, such as a photo, a letter, or a sketch.
There’s a great deal of promise to this approach, as you set about zooming into photos and poring over official–looking documents for any hint of a clue. Early on you’ll be nudged, via the included web browser, towards various ciphers and metrics.
Morse code makes an appearance, as do geographical coordinates and the Caesar Code. But this initial promise doesn’t really pan out. As the game progresses, the puzzles take on a level of sloppiness and predictability that suggest either a lack of effort or inspiration on the developer’s part.
The writing, too, is uniformly poor. Through a combination of error-strewn grammar, an uneven tone that flips awkwardly between glib and portentous, and a general lack of direction, any sense of mystique is quickly dispelled.
There’s a certain clunkiness to the tools you’re given, too. While you’re given a note-taking tool, we quickly found that a traditional pen and paper was a better bet. You can overlay the notes on the puzzle screen, but not the web browser, which makes transferring and translating data a bit of a chore if you’re just using what’s been given to you.
The web browser, too, is poorly optimized, with the URL and controls partially hidden behind our iPhone 12 mini’s notch. We found it much easier hitting the app switcher and simply bringing up Safari.
It’s a shame, because the concept of a puzzle game driven by the internet and Google – essentially purpose-built to scratch the quiz-cheating itch that we’ve all felt in the smartphone era – is a really good one. While Project VOID has its moments, though, the execution isn’t quite there.