Riga, Jul 2017
Abandoned Research Complex has a rather generic name that doesn’t entirely do justice to its premise. In a post-apocalypse world your group of survivors are in an underground bunker, which – whoops! – contains a bomb that’s due to detonate in one hour. The website description states that you’re searching for the antidote to the virus that decimated humanity, and in the game itself there are some interesting reveals that suggest a rather different story. All of which did successfully suggest an interesting setting and background, even if it didn’t quite gel into a clear narrative.
This game managed the neat trick of having rather sparse decor and yet giving the impression of a much more elaborate set. The mostly plain white walls are improved by good use of lighting, and then there are a number of focal point items that range from impressive to memorably gorgeous.
Part way through the operator had to tell us to stop and close a door we’d just managed to open, because we’d triggered the mechanism sooner than intended. I don’t count that as the game’s fault though – by pure chance one of our group had activated precisely the right combination of inputs on a mechanism while looking at it, equivalent to pressing a random set of keys on a keyboard and happening to push exactly the right ones.
The setting is used well, with plenty of more physical and story-based tasks used to move forwards. I disliked that it sometimes made codes available to us that looked like they’d go in the keypads we were trying to open, but which were actually for later; but at least the keypads weren’t the auto lockout sort.
Since I played it in the midst of a glut of very impressive-looking games in Riga, it didn’t have quite the impact it might have had on another occasion, but it has some unusual, clever mechanisms and some really nice objects acting as centrepieces for parts of the game.