Sense - A Cyberpunk Ghost Story is the long awaited game by Suzaku Games, their first and so far only game. It is heavenly focused on the cyberpunk universe, inspired by the works of none other than Masamune Shirow, which you may know for creating the masterpiece that is Ghost in the Shell.
Clearly ambitious, the game has been in development for a few years, and it’s finally been released on the 25th of this month (August), quickly becoming a trending game on Steam, due to its appealing theme mixing cyberpunk and horror, within classic 2D Point & Click mechanics that fans can always appreciate.
The reception was clearly shared with mixed feelings, as the game is currently (1st of September) being patched and updated to accommodate a few fixes the community pointed out regarding the gameplay. First, we have to support and praise the developers for trying to pull out the game from the store, as well as updating the current build status as “Not Recommended” for purchase, due to these issues.
Notice: I’ve been following Sense for a couple of years now, and I’ve had the pleasure to see the changes the game went through during the different builds. However, now that I played the game for myself, and experienced these so called problems, I must say 80% of them are far from bugs or glitches, and in fact are more of a gameplay perspective, which also reflects on how much gaming has evolved throughout the years.
But first, let's discuss the main story, which has us following Mei-Lin Mak, as she dives into the underworld, where dark secrets lurk beneath the neon lights covering the futuristic city of Neo Hong Kong, in 2083. A world with a vast lore spread across and waiting for you to discover, which the same can be said about the characters. The story is automatically connected to how much exploring you do, and therefore connecting the dots. Multiple playthroughs may be needed as well, since Sense features a New Game+ mode.
The dialogues are nicely built, with a laid back attitude and well presented. They perfectly define the events, aligning well with the narrative. There’s a lot of adult themes involved, therefore, expect different approaches and no set backs regarding the storyline and how it portrays a violent and horrific world.
Sense - A Cyberpunk Ghost Story is a traditional Point & Click, where players set themselves in an adventure, interacting with the world around them, including NPC’s and objects. Some objects can be collected, while others can only be so, when you may need them. This is the opposite of many mechanics we see, where you can pretty much hoard your way into the game.
A lot of environments can be interacted with, such as taking a specific picture with the phone, or accessing new areas. There are quite the useful gadgets available. Something I surely appreciate is the “Interactive Rotation '', which is a feature that allows one to rotate across all interaction points within a small area. We all hate when we click on the wrong place, so the ability to rotate, make small areas perfectly welcomed, which doesn’t happen often in this genre.
The gameplay is where many of the complaints first appear, regarding some of the features. Saving your game would be somehow identical to Ink Ribbons in the Resident Evil series, or in other instances where saving your progress is limited. That alone throws off a lot of players, as they feel their time is not being respected. I somehow understand, even though the original vision of the creator was to deliver a hardcore experience.
Other examples of players unable to adapt to the old way of gameplay include the lack of a tutorial, or simply the absence of an explanation of the controls. Interactions with some areas were also a target for some of the player disappointment. However, aside from these, the game is 100% playable and the amount of bugs is basically irrelevant.
The game is without a doubt, a traditional hardcore experience, which was the original idea. However, this decision affected the overall reviews and thus the reason for the developers working on an update.
Despite the 2D design choice, the world of Sense - A Cyberpunk Ghost Story has plenty of atmosphere and detail. The matching colors and themed cyberpunk color palette sure adds a fantastic vibe. The soundtrack is also built around the whole theme, which in the end equally delivers the same amazing result.
I still personally like how Suzaku Games went ahead to deliver their own take on the art they created. At the current state the feedback is clear: Players want a much easier time that is far more accessible. I’m absolutely positive the upcoming patch will resolve all these issues, as well as bumping the score to Very Positive.
A classic Point & Click which I definitely recommend, for fans of the genre, with a decent soundtrack and visual presentation to go with.