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Sorry, James

Developed by Konstructors Entertainment, Sorry, James is without a doubt their most ambitious game to date, combining a fantastic mix of an interactive but kinetic storytelling, with what they do best; fun and intuitive puzzles, alongside the perfect matching visuals and enigmatic atmosphere.

Players take the uncontrollable life of James Garner, a professional hacker, working for the most advanced and technologically powerful weaponry company; Mantis Corp. We can only assume what James’s office looks like… A dark, cubicle-shaped room, that progressively blinks every time the network-attached storage receives new information, as the air thickens, and the screen shows a new email waiting to be read.

Mariia, a high rank employee, gives James some time off, to work on a side project. It’s clear such off-side request is far from the typical job of protecting or decrypting military data. These are some secret files, not in a top-secret military way, but towards the private side of secrecy… Files which no one should know, not because they are dangerous, but simply because they are not for the prying eyes… Mariia simply warns; Do not open them!

Curiously, however, it’s what’s been pushing humanity forward, to pursue dreams and search for answers, and James, he is human after all. Opening the first file, it’s clear those are private, but not in an extreme way! It’s just a random instant-messaging text log between two persons, Eliza and an anonymous man.

At first, the messages seem random and typical conversations between two persons online, slowly getting to know each other. But as James unlocks more files, conversations start to slowly dwindle into private matters, and some of which, are definitely private! Eliza was a reflect of the future trapped in the past… Her dark desires become unveiled as we spy her expressions of love and sexual desires. We dive into her fears, and go as deep as her most shameful moments. Nothing on Eliza becomes a secret, except, who she really is.

As more and more files are deciphered, Eliza becomes less and less of a mystery, as one tries to put her in a full picture, like a puzzle, a defragmented one, with endless pieces missing, but the ones remaining are so elaborately interesting, that ignoring it is not an option. Tension rises in the company, and at each new file, secrets become part of a story, one that James will have to read with his own insight, and develop his own perspectives.

Sorry, James is a puzzle game based, with a simple and intuitive mechanic where players must complete sequences in order to match the pin-point available numbers. A strange but interesting mix of Sudoku and Minesweeper. Each grid has strategically located numbers, and the objective is to fill the lines based on those given numbers. Surpassing the given number, will fail the result, and thus forcing players to review their chosen paths. Later in the game, more complex variants of the puzzle will unlock, with multiple paths enlightening and changing the result of the key numbers, as well as having a ghost alternative for double the placements, with twice the amount.

Although there’s no math involved, the puzzles are far more intuitive than they appear to be, becoming almost logical by just looking at. Some later grids are huge and require some extra attention, but nonetheless, it’s perfectly optical for the causal experience and mind challenging, with a simple puzzle mechanic, that’s both appealing and fun.

Presented in a simple hacking simulation stylized game, players access James’s desktop, by using the login credentials available at the store page, and immediately get absorbed in a cyber world of mistrust and less conventional conduits. The puzzles simulate files being deciphered by clearing sectors nullifying their encryption. Every unlocked file delivers another fragment of conversation, and with such, more clues of this strange mission.

When starting the game, player’s will immediately get waves upon waves of mysterious vibes from nostalgia, such as a CRT monitor effect that creates an idea of glass from those curved screens. It’s a confusing mixing of pleasant visuals, in a way, we kind of miss it, but at the same time we’re glad there's an option to turn it off completely. The graphics are simple and the effects can be either toggled On or Off, to create a more old-school vibe, or crisp and smooth screen like in today’s age. The design uses integrations such as your personal computer time, while other settings such as a Log Off button to quit the game. Simple details like these definitely engage players into the whole cyber wave originally intended.

The soundtrack is an interesting mix as well, and kind of flows the vibe. There’s a minimalist piano that smoothly shows its presence, but the main sound works go for the effects that alongside visual filters, creates a digital atmosphere, of sound details and ambient noise. Since this is a puzzle game, I personally don’t blame you for muting the game and going with your favorite music tracks. Although the quality of the effects are there and are appreciated.

Sorry, James may be a puzzle based-game, but it’s the story that unveils the whole experience, creating not only methodical thinking, but reflection upon Eliza’s words. It feels like a rewarding break after a puzzle, and a motivation for the next one, curiosity is, after all, a human quality, or should we say a sin? Eliza might know best what a sin is, yet, this game offers a fantastic mix of hacking with fun and amazing puzzles. Highly recommended.

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