Older game fans should fondly remember the original Flashback release some twenty years ago. It was much-loved for its challenging gameplay and graphic style, can the remake continue the high standard of the original?
Flashback is mainly a straight remake of the original story and settings with some extras thrown in for good measure. You play as Conrad B. Hart who is fleeing an alien base. His escape is thwarted as his vehicle is shot down and crashes in a jungle. Conrad wakes up with some memory loss and soon finds a hologram explaining what happened before. It is all very Total Recall, bearing in mind this was 20 years ago, not long after the original film. Your journey sees you take on a few roles including a game show contestant (a’la Running Man) and saviour of the human race.
The original game was well-known for its platform mechanics, taking influence from game such as Prince of Persia. Things were a little tougher twenty years ago, the mechanics could be unforgiving and one joystick nudge too far could send you reeling to your death. The remake is much more forgiving, requiring less precision and to some extent skill. This also extends to the combat, the original had basic aiming angles while it now has 360 degree. This does make combat much more enjoyable but also takes away the challenge of dealing with enemies. Your opponents are more of a hinderance requiring a few shots to take down, than an obstacle which required accurate aiming and firing in the original.
The graphical style remains similar in style, featuring the same locations found in the original. The developers went with a 2.5D design instead of sprite based hand drawn graphics. It looks very similar in style to the excellent Shadow Complex which itself was influenced by Flashback. The graphics look good but it loses some of the charm of the original.
There a quite a few additions not found in the original. Throughout each level are alien pods which can be shot to increase a progress bar. You will often need to locate them via glasses which allows you to see hidden items or interactive scenery. You also have an experience system where you can upgrade your weapon and health which seemed fairly pointless as the combat is relatively easy. To add some replayability there is a new Virtual Reality mission area which is challenging as many missions are time based, requiring you to kill a number of enemies within a certain time for example. Completing missions gains you more experience.
The game now features voice acting but in most cases you will wish it had not. The acting is uninteresting and at times cringeworthy, hearing Conrad say ‘Awesomesauce’ near the start of the game was out-of-place. I am not quite sure what the developers were thinking there!
I played the original Flashback when it was first released over twenty years ago and even today it is still a great game which has stood the test of time thanks to its challenging gameplay. The original game is included so you can compare the two. The remake feels like it has lost its soul which is disappointing as the original developers worked on the remake. Instead of a challenging game, it feels dumbed down and more of a nod to the original than a remake. Newcomers to the game will find some enjoyment in the remake, veterans will be happier replaying the original or picking up the far superior Shadow Complex.
Compared to the original game, the gameplay feels dumbed down but the game plays well enough.
The 2.5D visuals capture some of the original graphical style/
Good music but the voice over is uninteresting and cringeworthy.