Take a look at some Insomnia The Ark gameplay and impressions in our hands on preview video. Or you can read the transcript below if videos aren’t your thing. But then you would be missing out on how lovely the game looks so far.
INSOMNIA The Ark from Russian developer Mono Studio is a diesel-punk sci-fi Role playing game set on-board a massive abandoned space metropolis called Object 6. Its goal was a 400 year journey to find a new home for its inhabitants but instead has fallen into chaos. Having woken from a cryogenic sleep, your character who somehow is humanity’s last hope enters the fray despite having a rare psychological disease which manifests itself during the story.
Starting the game – which we have to reiterate is still a work in progress – players are presented with a prologue tutorial which introduces the core mechanics of the gameplay such as melee combat, shooting and interacting with others. Your first task here is to deliver an item in one of the underbelly tunnels; as a request from a mysterious character called ‘The Broker’. It is a fairly easy task which sets the tone well, but immediately highlights that the game still has quite a long way to go in terms of tightening up the melee combat and shooting mechanics. The first thing we noticed is how the camera does not allow full panning of the Y axis. Apparently this is due to performance issues and hopefully will be fixed at some point. The combat could also benefit from a manual lock-on system for our tastes and feels a little too easy to miss swipe when swinging weapons. The shooting fares better but also needs to work from within cover more intuitively. It has to be said, the enemy AI could do with some additional routines to make them more engaging as well, which hopefully will be worked on before the game is released. In some instances combat can’t be avoided it seems.
Aside from the few gameplay niggles in this early build, the visual elements are spot-on offering some excellent mood effects and diesel-punk aesthetics. The game simply looks great, although we are hoping there is more variety the further you venture into the depths of Object 6. There is great attention to detail and every location feels lived in as objects litter rooms and levels feel well-worn. Exploration can reveal some interesting NPCs and locales.
Once the game starts proper, players can then choose their hero from a selection of starting characters or classes, which effectively give you differing opening bonuses. The game actually wants to ignore a set class system, where instead players can create their own hybrid characters depending on what elements or perks they level up as they play. In the current build there is only a male character option but we’re told there will be choice of females as well.
With the pleasantries out-of-the-way, players can then explore the hub, but navigation here doesn’t hold ones hand with direction arrows and such like, so you do have to figure things out with the map and by talking to people. In some ways this is good as it helps immersion, but for some gamers, does mean getting lost can be an issue. Perhaps adding markers is something the team are considering. That said, with a bit of wandering around it’s not too difficult to find your way around. Once the first mission is initiated players are presented with an impressive outside view of Object 6. As the story progresses more areas to explore open up , but what is interesting is a random element as you move between points during this viewpoint. You could be held up by bandits, have a stop off with a merchant to acquire some goods or have a breakdown and need to repair your means of travel. It’s a pretty neat system adding a bit of tension to what effectively is a fast-travel system. The game boasts some 70 locations which is pretty impressive.
INSOMNIA also promises a survival system although this isn’t fully functional in the beta build we played. You will have to manage your hunger,thirst and tiredness levels which is evident from all the items you can collect by examining items or trading with the various vendors. There is an in-depth trading system on offer for those seeking out junk items to sell. Players will have to repair weapons and equipment lest they fall foul to a breakage during the heat of battle which isn’t fun at all. The game also continues to run when the menu is selected which means no cheating item management when in the thick of it. Players can craft items as well using various item benches in hub areas although this is entirely optional if you happen to have the funds.
As for the story missions, and factions, Insomnia presents and interesting world with a diverse set of characters in its dark neo-noir setting (although we would have liked to hear some voice overs for the main characters). On one mission there was some unrest for our character to help deal with. However, upon investigation and after being attacked, we discovered the whole place had been rigged to explode. Lacking the skills to disarm the explosives, we attempted to negotiate with the person holding the detonator. This failed and caused the entire area to be blown to pieces. So, there are choices in how you approach objectives – also depending on what skills your character possess can make a difference. This is a good feature and hopefully a commanding part of the story especially as there are some 12 endings planned. Interestingly, there are a number of NPC characters as well to interactive with which depending on your character can reveal extra quests and information. There is a lot going on in this game for sure, which all sounds rather promising.
Insomnia The Ark, looks good, has some neat ideas and plays well at this juncture in its development. It simply needs some more polishing to get it up to speed. That said, from what we played this is a cool game in the making and one we will certainly keep a keen eye on. If you’re a fan of sci-fi action adventure role-playing then this ticks all the right boxes so far and should be great once finished. Insomnia is expected to release for PC later this year.