Let’s just go ahead and address the elephant in the room before I start this review in full. If you’ve played Bloober Team’s 2017 release >Observer_ (which we have also reviewed here), then 2084’s setting will jump out and smack you right in the eyeballs. This is due to the fact that Feardemic is a subsidiary of Bloober, founded to focus on publishing and producing horror titles. 2084 was created during a 72-hour internal game jam. The team thought it had enough potential and decided to release it to the world via Steam’s Early Access program. Were they right? Let’s hop on in and see for ourselves.
2084 is set in the same grim cyberpunk dystopia as >Observer_. The exact same, in fact. The levels are lifted right from the aforementioned title, so much so that it feels like you’re playing a modded version. As such, the graphics still have the same polished look and grimy sci-fi aesthetic. The story campaign is incredibly short. It took me maybe around an hour to complete. And believe me: it’s a story mode in name only. It has you running through a few recycled >Observer_ environments gunning down the same model of nanophage zombie and its slight variant models. They basically all look the same: a flimsy-looking zombie in a hospital gown. The other enemy types are made up of the same model, except some crouch and some are tiny shrunken versions of the same thing. One interesting variant has a TV stuck on their head that can be hacked to gain ammo and shock nearby enemies for a few seconds. Aside from that, each level has a rather uninspired boss fight. One is a giant version of Janus (the grumpy apartment complex caretaker) that has a force field that must be hacked in order to be temporarily shut down. At the end of each level, you are treated to a short cinematic that really doesn’t add much of anything.
The one unique thing that 2084 does bring to the table is its hacking on-the-fly mechanic. There are a variety of hackable objects (and certain enemies) to be found in the environment. As there are no pick-ups, hacking is the only way to refill your health and ammo. When in hack mode, the game goes into slow-motion while you enter the required input on your D-Pad. You have a time limit to do so: failure just means you have to wait a few seconds and try again. You’ll often be doing this in the heat of battle to gain advantages, like hacking a camera turret to start blasting away at zombies or hacking a TV Head zombie to shock his nearby allies. One of my biggest gripes is that in the heat of combat, the hordes often make it quite difficult to hit the proper hack target. This is especially annoying due to the need to wait a few seconds before firing off another hack charge, even though a successful hack means you can shoot another bullet off immediately. The controls are incredibly simplistic. You can only hack and shoot. No item usage; no reloading; no sprinting; heck, no crouch or melee button either. This gives 2084 the feel of a fast-paced arcade shooter but also makes it feel quite bare.
After completing Story Mode, your next stop will most likely be Endless Mode (not that you really have much choice). This is where you can test your hackin’ n’ shootin’ skills against a -yep, you guessed it- endless horde of enemies. The action takes place in a rectangular-shaped arena with a variety of camera turrets, health boxes, and ammo boxes lining the walls to hack to your advantage. Enemy spawns start off slowly at first, and then as you progress the game ratchets up the difficulty by adding more baddies and faster spawn rates. You’ll also see all your favorites in there, such as "TV Head Guy"; "Giant TV Head Guy", and "Tall Laser-Shooting Robot That Isn’t Even In The Main Game Guy". If leaderboards are your thing, you’ll be happy to know that your high score is uploaded to a leaderboard so you can indirectly compete with friends and strangers for bragging rights. There are also achievements that can only be earned in Endless Mode, so completionists will have some incentive to play around here for a bit.
My final verdict is...not good. The cheap enemies, a non-existent story that can get completed in about an hour and the rapidity in which Endless Mode gets stale make it hard for me to recommend this to anyone. On the other hand, it only costs around the price of a movie ticket. It kept me entertained for about an hour and a half: in that time I beat the story mode and played Endless until I got bored of it. Not a bad trade-off if you’re looking for an evening’s entertainment and have nothing better to do. I know I may be coming off as a bit harsh since this is an Early Access title that was thrown together over the course of 72 hours, but I have to review games based on their current state. Not on what they may be like in the future. Feardemic said they have plans to keep working on the game and listen to community feedback, so in the future, who knows? 2084 could be a 10.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 4/10
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