Subject 13 is an adventure game with point and click puzzle mechanics brought to us by French developer Microids. The game opens with a rather dark scenario as a man named Frank Fargo drives his car straight into a river in order commit suicide. Unconscious, Frank descends deeper into the water, and he’s suddenly transported to a remote facility on an abandoned island. From there, a strange robotic voice begins to speak to Frank, dubbing him Subject 13, and forces Frank to solve puzzles in order to uncover the mystery of the island.
I’d like to start this off by saying I did enjoy this game. I’m not one for point and click mechanics, so I felt a bit lost as I started out, but Subject 13 does well to help lead its players through its puzzles while leaving you enough to figure out on your own. As you journey through the game, you must pick up items, open them up in your inventory, and inspect them thoroughly. On occasion, you must combine certain items together to solve certain puzzles as well. The puzzles range from simple, to meh, to pretty damn challenging. Some requiring a bit of math, others requiring you to know a thing or two about Minesweeper. Hints are available throughout the game, so if you feel as though you’re about to smash your controller, don’t fret.
Subject 13 isn’t very long, but there seems to be just the right amount of story packed into the game’s four chapters. Throughout Frank’s journey, testimonies (small taped recordings) are sprinkled around and help to develop and flesh out the story. I enjoyed the testimonies. I found myself listening to them a few times over to make sure I understood all of the exposition that was being delivered to me. In addition to the testimonies, you’ll have some dialogue with a couple of characters as well, which also helps to shed some light on Frank’s backstory.
The story itself is another reason I enjoyed the game. While it’s not overly complicated, it is dark and has interesting twists throughout the story. That said, due to the games last puzzle and my frustration with all things minesweeper, I wasn’t able to finish Subject 13. I did look up the ending, and I was satisfied with the game conclusion, but I just didn’t have it in me to complete Frank’s journey. That’s not indicative of most people’s experience with the game, however, as I read that some folks found little trouble with the last puzzle, but for me, I just did not have the patience – and I really, really, hate minesweeper.
Unfortunately, some of the story elements are hindered by some shaky voice acting and some hitches in the games writing itself. There are one or two moments where a strange line of dialogue took me out of the game. There are also a few occasions where I found myself frustrated by the controls, often missing certain items I would need to continue because I wasn’t able to maneuver Frank in the way I wished Frank would move, or the action wheel where you pick up and view items wouldn’t connect. That said, I don’t think any of that lowers Subject 13’s playability. I found it rather easy to push through those negative elements because of all the positives throughout the game. One of those positives being the music in the game. While it is reminiscent of other games (Mass Effect comes to mind), the creepy score in Subject 13 helped elevate the mysterious atmosphere and engrossed me further into the story.
I think Subject 13 is a good game and does very well to mix its original concepts with previous puzzle game experiences. There is enough range between the puzzles to satisfy casual puzzle gamers like me, while also being challenging enough for those who enjoy these types of games all the time. As I said the story itself is satisfying, and while the voice acting and writing was shaky at times, I wouldn’t let that stop you from giving this game a shot. The price is right for Subject 13, and if you enjoy exploration puzzle games, you should absolutely give this intriguing title a download!
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 8/10
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