Developer: Wales Interactive Ltd.
Release Date: October 29th, 2013
Available on: Nintendo Wii U, PC, Playstation 3
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the PC. There may be differences between versions.
One day in the future death will no longer hold you back. Master Reboot introduces the Soul Cloud: a computer program that lets people upload their memories and personality so they can live and be visited forever. Only now there’s a problem with the program and you’re sent in to fix it.
That’s the general gist of Master Reboot, a horror adventure game that has you traveling through the protagonist’s life and death as she tries to fix the problems in the Soul Cloud. Another person, simply calling herself the Goddess of Destruction, is messing with the program and turning it against you. Most notably it sends the security program, Seren, after you. Seren takes the form of a little girl for reasons I genuinely can’t figure out other than “it’s creepy.” Overall I found the setting and world to be really interesting, but the plot itself feels weak. The Goddess of Destruction’s reasons for doing everything amount to little more than what I’d expect out of a crappy teenage romance novel. Worse, the majority of the cutscenes have this awful looking animation style that looks like a child opened up MS Paint and banged it out really quick. It looks awful and really hampers the game’s story.
Master Reboot fares a little better when it comes to gameplay. After a few introductory levels you’ll find yourself in your ‘soul hub’ where you can access your various memories. The game opens them in sets of four and you can tackle them in any order you want. Each of these hubs then provides a new and unique challenge for you to figure out. One early hub had you explore the main character’s room from the perspective of a toy, attempting to find three keys so you can unlock the exit in the closet. Another has you in a amusement park, requiring you to complete a set of tasks so you can move on. One odd one put you on a small beach island and required you to find a metal detector to find some rings hidden in the sand. No two challenges are the same and that’s pretty neat.
It’s not all fun and peace though. A good chunk of the memories has you hunted down by Seren. One particularly tense challenge has you avoiding her on an airplane. As she wanders up and down the hall you need to grab three keys from the seats so you can open the door and exit. Seren isn’t the only threat you’ll encounter though. A level that has you wandering through a maze made of bookshelves could have the bookshelves tip over on you, something that’ll kill you instantly. This sucks because there’s no real way to tell which bookshelves will and won’t fall on you until you’re suddenly locked into the cutscene of one falling. Late in the game it introduces some extraordinarily bad first person platforming segments that could see you falling to your death over and over again. Luckily the cost of death is little more than getting sent back to one of the mercifully numerous checkpoints.
On the other hand, some of the puzzles are surprisingly creative and fun to solve. One school based level contains various puzzles related to music, art, and astrology. Another has you cracking a code by deciphering a message left on a tomb. They’re not all great, whoever decided that the tone based bell puzzle was a good idea needs to be slapped, but the majority are actually quite interesting and worth solving. Between puzzles you’ll also be collecting a few items. Ducks let you relive small portions of the protagonist’s life, letting you piece together the story a little better. Some weird ruins, on the other hand, mostly just leave cryptic messages and drawings from the Goddess of Destruction. The purpose of these I’m still unsure of.
Master Reboot is an interesting experiment. The creative universe and strong puzzles help tie the game together when the so-so gameplay and story hurt it. Fans of this style of game should probably look into Master Reboot as it does contain some interesting ideas that may appeal. The rest may find themselves turned off by some of the oddities and trial-and-error moments. That said, this is one game that may just show up in your own Soul Cloud.