From the developers that brought us Call of Duty and Destiny (2014) comes Singularity. Upon it’s release it was favoured by critics worldwide and it isn’t hard to see why.
The story is set on a Soviet inhabited island called Katorga-12 where scientists are attempting to create a super weapon in order to defeat the Americans in the cold war. As a result of this the TMD (Time Management Device) is born. You are Renko, an American sent to investigate an electrical surge which has occurred upon the island. Throughout the game the player is thrown between present and past, revealing what really happened on Katorga-12.
As the game progresses, it complicates in the sense that the space-time continuum needs to be fixed and only you can make the decisions to do so. The game presents itself as a first-person shooter survival horror but doesn’t seek to scare the player through cheap jump scares like a contemporary horror film might. Instead it uses the entire scenario to unease the player. This isdone by exercising both realistic and unrealistic horrors, such as the idea of an evil dictator achieving world domination to undead mutants stalking the hallways of abandoned science labs. The idea of a cold war experimentation is creepy enough for me before adding supernatural beings into the equation. However, most of these enemies are pretty easy to overcome and therefore lacks any real fear the player may experience upon encountering any enemies. Despite this, the game occasionally throws a scenario from the past into the mix and before the player knows it, they are experiencing a terrifying segment from the past where it all went wrong. Each flashback revealing more about the island itself. This is one aspect of the game I was particularly impressed with, the ability to switch from past to present so smoothly.
The campaign itself however, is rather repetitive in ways. It reminded me of the early Medal of Honour games where the player would constantly be fighting the enemy by themselves; fulfilling task after task as opposed to fighting alongside a squad, which is a popular occurrence in more modern first-person shooters. This notion is wildly unrealistic considering what the player is expected to take on by themselves but I suppose if you’re looking for a game that presents realism, you would be looking for a very boring game. The game is however, very structured and limited. The levels are large enough to enjoy a ‘controlled freedom’. The player may destroy elements and enemies as he or she pleases but what the player can do and where they can go is still extremely limited. The game took a step back in time (ironically) and reintroduced invisible walls, that dreaded element of games that haunts many gamers from the 90’s and beyond. Obviously games have to have a boundary otherwise it would be chaos but Singularity’s boundaries were so ridiculous it was laughable. For example, there were obstacles that could easily be outmanoeuvred by the player had they been in a different scenario but because the map doesn’t extend that far the player simply bounces off. I felt that this let the game down in ways as it reminded me that I was playing a game with high limitations.
However, this isn’t too much of an issue as the gripping narrative makes up for the limitations which each area presents. The game attempts to make up for these limitations through weapon upgrades and perks which can be purchased. These upgrades and additional perks can provide an advantage at certain points in the game. This is particularly useful when fighting against the tougher enemies or when playing on a harder difficulty. In order to upgrade weapons the player must locate and retrieve weapon upgrade packs which are sparse; meaning the player must choose wisely as to what to upgrade. This creates a thrilling drive in the player to locate as many as possible. Achievements and trophies are also very plentiful in this game, which adds more of a challenge to the storyline. I found trying to meet the requirements for a certain achievement more challenging than what the game could throw at me. However, the puzzles that the game presented were a lot more challenging. They required the player to use what they had learned and use the TMD to overcome certain obstacles throughout to the game. The game was also very rewarding if the player took the time to explore all areas. Voice recordings were scattered across the maps and these offered extra information and trivia for players that were intrigued by the storyline. I found this particularly interesting as you could not only learn extra niche facts but could use what you had learned to defeat enemies.