Developer: Retro Yeti Games
Release Date: April 16th, 2015
Available On: PC
Net Neutrality is a very good thing that needs to stay. This is not news to a lot of people who use the internet daily. 404Sight is a 3D runner/platformer by a group of college students that pushes this message. It’s a message I can appreciate, but unfortunately 404Sight is not a very good game and its only saving grace is that it’s a free one.
My first impression with 404Sight was not a pleasant one: one where not a single button on either my controller or keyboard did anything. Fantastic. After restarting I was able to use my mouse (and only my mouse) in the menus, yet starting the game saw my character stuck in one spot. Neither the controller’s left stick nor WASD was able to get her to move, yet I was still able to preform the ping and speed boost functions. After using the respawn ability I was finally able to actually play the game, albeit with the caveat that any use of a controller caused a mouse cursor to float across my screen in whatever direction I moved. During my time with 404Sight I would continue to be plagued by glitches, including things like the pause menus only working with my mouse, and the game force exiting a solid 15% of the time I used the jump button.
My goal in 404Sight is to get to the end of each level. To do this I simply needed to run along the paths while avoiding dangers. The game’s big mechanic while I did this is called “ping”. I could turn my ping on and off by pressing the right trigger. As long as the ping was on I was able to see and be affected by the various threats and benefits that littered the course. See to many slow lanes? Then I can just turn the ping back off and run through them unharmed.
Dangers in 404Sight take the form of these slow lanes, red patches on the ground that drained my bandwidth, which serves as a health bar, and slowed me down. Worse were Inhibitors: they dropped from the sky and created large patches of slow lanes around them, plus block the path. While I couldn’t do much about the slow lanes besides avoid them, I was able to sacrifice some of my bandwidth for a speed boost to destroy the Inhibitors. Thankfully not everything is out to kill me: also on the ground were beneficial fast lanes. As long as I was in a fast lane I would move faster and my bandwidth slowly increased. A lot of the challenge from the game came from making sure I could stay in the fast lanes and avoid falling out.
As I ran I had to jump from platform to platform, which is really when everything kind of falls apart. Jumping feels off and I never landed where I felt like I was going to. I quickly came to love bounce pads, the third thing I could find with ping on. These bounce pads basically just shot me over to another platform with no aiming or precision required. Yet even bounce pads couldn’t save me all the time, and the game’s problems kept mounting up. Slow lanes seemed to drain random and sometime absurd amounts of bandwidth when I entered them, and running along fast lanes didn’t seem to restore very much. There are times when I seemed to hit “bumps” in the level’s building and fell through the floor to my death. Even my bounce pads couldn’t always save me: the last challenge in the game takes the form of an extremely annoying section where I have to figure out which combo of bounce pads brings me to the top of a tower, and which one kills me. With no real way to figure out besides “test it and find out”, this section felt like blatant padding. Even with it I had 404Sight finished after a measly 30 minutes, so I’m happy it didn’t cost me a dime.
Retro Yeti Games has good intentions with 404Sight, but the actual delivery was… throttled, for lack of a better word. I understand that a college student project isn’t going to be golden, but I came away from 404Sight annoyed, frustrated, and kind of disappointed.