REPLACED hands-on preview — Promising post-apocalyptic pixels

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REPLACED has been on my radar since the first trailer. It’s got a styling to it that speaks to me. Every year I generally find at least one indie game that ends up on my favorite games list, and while we’re still awaiting a release date, I can tell this one will grab me the second it releases. I got hands-on time with REPLACED at Summer Game Fest, and here are my findings.

REPLACED Official Trailer 2

My demo was divided into three sections, a combat room, some exploration of the world, and the prologue to get me familiar with the story. Before diving into what makes REPLACED tick, I have to speak on how incredible the aesthetic is. If you’ve seen any of the trailers, you know what I mean. The mix of pixel art and 2.5D design is absolutely stunning, a visual feast for the senses. There are some adjustments that need to be made with certain icons and colored words being hard to see, but those will come in time. Otherwise, just the visuals alone make this a game worth playing.

I was instructed to test the combat first, as the other levels didn’t have a lot of action to them. Here were a few waves of enemies, with a final boss if you managed to survive the onslaught. At first I was a bit overwhelmed; even with a slower pace I felt like I was missing something. Once it clicked, however, it clicked. This is more akin to the Batman Arkham games, where deliberate control is more valuable than button mashing. Punching a baddie several times, then parrying another, then using my heavy attack to shred the shield in front of that enemy was exhilarating. You feel like a Mad Max or John Wick character when things flow, and the ballet of violence is epic in proportion.

From here, I moved into the section of exploring the world. It was still a small area, but it was much larger than I expected, with more to do inside than I thought. Coming into this city, you’re supposed to talk with the leaders about something, but you’re able to speak to citizens and receive side quests as well. I didn’t notice any kind of tracking (which I suggested as feedback), so you’re going to have to put your brain to the test in remembering key words and phrases in your journey. Your character does carry an old phone, so perhaps this might be useful to remember what tasks you’re working on.

Starting these side quests begins in dialogue, with specific words and phrases popping up in a different color than others, giving you a hint as to what you’re doing for this particular person. I like this kind of leading in this kind of game, as it allows the dialogue to take precedence and encourages you to explore this fascinating world. I didn’t have the time to finish the questing, but the conversations feel organic and this city is worth exploring. You’re going to lose yourself in the different nooks and crannies as you try to figure out each narrative puzzle.

Finally, the prologue. I unfortunately ran out of time to watch the entire thing, but it set up the story’s beginning. You’re a guy named Warren Marsh who has an accident while arguing with your AI companion, R.E.A.C.H.. In the ensuing chaos, Warren is dead, replaced by REACH. Now, R.E.A.C.H. has to figure out being a human, and hopes to somehow bring Warren back. It’s an intriguing premise, and with the outstanding world built around it, I see nothing but success in the future.

REPLACED is one of my favorite games I had the chance to play at Summer Game Fest. Thirty minutes wasn’t enough to satisfy the hunger I have to play this game, and it’s going to be painful waiting to play it again. Everything I saw and played hit the mark, and REPLACED has a shot at being an indie Game of the Year whenever it comes out. You can wishlist REPLACED on Steam here.

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.

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