Anshar Studios released their isometric cyberpunk-themed role playing game on PC (soon to be on Switch) Gamedec. You play as a detective who investigates crimes within virtual worlds. Gamedec comes from the mind of Polish author, Marcin Przybyłek who released a book of the same name back in 2004. Now we have played the game, is it worth the relatively low-price of entry (just under £25). Take a look at our Gamedec review of the PC version.
Today we’re taking a look at Anshar Studios’ isometric role playing game on PC entitled Gamedec set within Warsaw City during the 22nd century. The premise is fairly unique where players assume the role of a male or female detective who investigates crimes set within virtual worlds (Virtualia). That effectively means you have the real world (Realium) to explore alongside various games in the virtual world. For the record, in case there is any confusion, this is not a VR game. Gamedec uses a sci-fi cyberpunk theme and prides itself on the tagline, “you are the sum of your choices”. In game terms, this means whatever actions you take has a profound impact on those around your character and future events.
Let’s get one thing straight though. Once you have selected a male or female avatar from a small selection of images, you’re thrust into the first case from your apartment. You can linger here, but that is short-lived as your Gamedec expertise is needed elsewhere. Without spoiling the plot, basically the gameplay loop consists of lots of interactions with characters and items within the world, then making deductions based on the information you have to progress the case forwards. As you delve deeper into each case, your character develops skill points which are governed by the choices you make. Players then assign points to various abilities or professions which increase the number of choices you have when interacting with people and items.
Anshar Studios mentioned in the review notes, that they plan to add voice-overs for some of the dialogue, but in this build there was none. Regardless, there is quite a lot of reading or listening to characters as you question them, such is the work of a detective.
What is worth noting, is the result of your actions are not always immediately obvious, and it’s also worth mentioning that you won’t see the impact of the differences between approaches to people and scenarios on a single play-through. We decided to replay the opening mission with a completely different approach to the first time we played leading to an outcome featuring additional scenes and a much deeper experience. Anyone who dives into Gamedec needs to understand that Anshar Studios encourage players to replay the story several times to provide the full picture. The game supports up to six different endings and by the time we finished only two were available based on how we had conducted ourselves during the story.
The deduction part of the gameplay offers an interesting set of parameters because with little investigation you’re able to make an assumption that may or may not be correct. Perhaps there is no right or wrong answers here. Initially only one or two options might exist, but acquiring information provides greater insight and naturally opens additional choices. This is an neat mechanic because players have a choice to just wildly deduce from very little information in a kind of fantasy over the top character, or go full-on Sherlock Holmes and gather many details before making the final assessment. Whatever the approach here shapes the game accordingly.
Gamedec isn’t without fault though because some sections feel a little too repetitive or elongated. There is also a distinct lack of visual diversity within cases. This seems to happen throughout most of the game where you’re required to stay within a set location whilst you figure things out rather than having freedoms to explore multiple locations to solve the case. Some of the more interesting locales in the latter portion of the story feel underused as well. Whilst it fits the narrative of investigating “scenes”, from a player perspective it can get a little stale at times.
Visually Gamedec offers some cool locations to investigate but the cyberpunk world takes a back-seat to the virtual worlds where players will spend most of their time. A shame, that it’s underused or offers less areas to explore. The isometric view works very well here, where characters look like their representations when viewing the excellent artwork during conversations (props to the artists for their neat designs). We did notice the absence of rain in one section though which was present in the demo. Either way, the game offers neat visuals overall but some of the design choices could have been a little more imaginative (not spoiling things here). Players can adjust various settings for a bespoke experience although we managed to run the game max settings in 4K without breaking a sweat. Interestingly, there was no controller support in the press build, however since we wrote this review, they have added partial controller support. We hope they add full support in the future. We can’t really comment much on the audio either, and whilst there is a subdued soundtrack and sound effects, without hearing the planned voiceovers it’s hard to judge. Either way, it’s a quiet game.
In terms of length, Anshar suggest each playthrough could take up to 10 hours. Our save file suggested around 7 hours for one playthrough and as mentioned we repeated the opening mission on a separate save slot, so take that as you will. As previously mentioned, replay value is a must here to appreciate the effort placed in having meaningful choices and the resulting impact. It’s quite possible to miss quite a lot of the game depending on how you play. Again, bearing in mind there are six endings. We would have liked to see more virtual world investigations but it’s obvious this isn’t a game with a massive budget. Perhaps Anshar will add some post-launch DLC.
Gamedec is an interesting adventure game that won’t appeal to anyone looking for action-based antics. It’s just not that type of game. It’s also quite text-heavy, so if this doesn’t appeal, then Gamedec won’t change your opinion. That said, if you like role-playing various rogues or being mister nice guy then this is worth checking out. It’s also pretty decent value for money.
Score 8/10 – Review code supplied by publisher