Ailment – Review
Follow Genre: Shooter
Developer: Ivan Panasenko
Platforms: Android, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Steam, iOS
Tested on: Switch

Ailment – Review

Site Score
4.0
Good: Some nice ideas and so-so gameplay.
Bad: You're paying premium for a mobile title and it shows.
User Score
5.7
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.7/10 (3 votes cast)

Ailment is a, “story-driven action-packed game with lots of guns, hordes of enemies, super intense game-play with horror ambience,” released on Switch, as well as all other major gaming platforms, including mobile. That sounds pretty fun and interesting on paper, but getting into the game, it all feels very flat. The game front-loads you with enough tutorial text boxes that you could probably categorize it as a visual novel too. It may as well have asked you to read the manual and then come back. So does Ailment, an indie title with a twin-shooter vibe, really do enough to differentiate itself among the ocean of indie shooters on the market, or does it fall into the same tired gameplay loops?

Story

The story is pretty simple, but although it’s described as being story-driven, there doesn’t seem to be much of an attempt at a compelling narrative. There are some quirky ideas if you roll with it being a B-movie, but there really isn’t much of a story to latch on to, though the game does end with a pretty satisfying twist. The narration is a nice idea with you not being taken out into a cutscene, but the notification noise for when the character has a new line just doesn’t fit the game at all. The sound resembles somewhere between you getting a text and a doorbell. There are also some quirky references spread out decently across the 2-hour playthrough, but most of them are pretty predictable if you’ve played any similar game.

Graphics

The game has a very simple but effective pixel style, but some of the enemies could use a little extra variation. The game is pretty short, so some extra variety with enemies could help the game from feeling so repetitive. The color scheme is pretty nice and fits the tone of it being an action-shooter in a space-station environment. The aesthetics of the game are all pretty nice, and at points actually very impressive with how far they’ve used some of them.

Sound

Excluding the strange noise that pops up during narration, the game has some pretty decent sound direction. All the guns sound pretty good, especially the plasma rifle, with every other gun feeling pretty satisfying to hear unload. The battle theme that pops up every time you’re taking down hordes of enemies has a nice ring to it the first time, but gets awfully repetitive without some variety as the game goes on. Also, after leaving combat though, the battle-theme just stops far too quickly and could’ve really used an extra second to fade out so it’s not like you’ve slammed the mute button.

Gameplay

Initially, the game gives off a twin-stick shooter vibe, but with really awful controls where you’d only shoot depending on what direction you’re moving in, but that’s wrong. You control the character with the left stick, but when you come into any contact with enemies, the character auto-aims for you and shoots towards the nearest enemy. This game was initially a mobile game, so it makes sense when you take into account the limited screen space of a phone, but it’s a bit of a bummer to see they’ve not done much in the way of improving the control-scheme to fit consoles.

Each of the levels plays pretty much the exact same, with some tiny changes in level design, but it’s always you running through some hallways until you come across a locked door, find the key for that door and kill anyone in your path. The worst part of the gameplay is when you’re asked to take on 10 or so enemies shooting you in some very tight corridors where there’s not much wiggle room for dodging, while enemies come charging toward you so you can’t shoot the enemies with guns. It feels like you’re fighting against the game instead of the enemies. On that note, you actually pick up your own set of AI to help you, with your AI friends working as tanks with insane damage output to the point you can finish levels just having them clear out enemy camps. Although they’re not invulnerable, they’re super strong, and it’s probably fun enough to try to keep them alive until the end.

There’s a nice array of guns that you can use and it’s a nice touch that it shows how much damage you’re doing to an enemy numerically, but even the guns themselves seem to be battling against the awful auto-aim system. The plasma rifle especially goes haywire when it doesn’t want to work, auto-targeting 10 different enemies at once depending on where you’re standing. Add in some really slow door animations and you’ve got yourself into a lot of trouble that only a miracle can get you out of.

Conclusion

Is the game worth recommending though? The game probably has an audience, but that audience isn’t buying this on a console. The game sells at roughly £8 on all major consoles and with this game being so short, the game just isn’t recommended for purchase. There’s a stronger argument for not really trying this game at all when it’s free. Weirdly enough, the game is actually free to play on mobile phones, with phones also having an additional prequel game that’s also free, so I’ve got to wonder why the console ports have such a hefty price-tag. Hell, if you wanted to play a fun game with exploring, back-tracking and some fun combat, Hollow Knight is only £4 more than this game, and almost always on sale. This title is not recommended, at least not on consoles.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.7/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Ailment – Review, 5.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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