Subject 13 is a 3D Puzzle Adventure game developed by Paul Cuisset and Microids and published by Anuman Interactive and Gravity Europe SAS. Subject 13 was first released on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux on May 28, 2015, then for the PlayStation 4 on December 20, 2016. However, it will also be coming to iOS and Android, but there is no official date as to when it will be available. It was also supported by the adventure gamers community with a successful Kickstarter campaign in July 2014.
I am not very familiar with these developers and this is the first time I've played one of their games. And I was very impressed with how well this turned out, especially since after my last experience with Anima: Gate of Memories I was a bit worried it wouldn't turn out as great as I hoped. But I was definitely wrong about that, and my worries were put to rest.
The story of Subject 13 is about how Franklin Fargo, a discreet Physics teacher who leads a lonely life after the death of his fiancée, Sophie. She was killed during a hold-up in which he was the intended target. One morning, he wakes up in the heart of an abandoned underground scientific complex with just one link to the outside world: a Voice referring to him as 'Subject 13'. His goal is to escape this place and discover why he was captured in the first place.
Subject 13 is a 3D puzzle adventure game, however, it feels much like a point-and-click adventure game along the lines of King's Quest and Broken Age. Players take control of the main protagonist as they go through many various locations to resolve the mysteries surrounding them. Throughout the game, you are able to explore in third person view. You move through the different places and solve many different tests and puzzles imposed by the Voice that leads you and gives you access to new locations bringing you every time a little bit closer to the truth. As you explore areas in the game, you will be able to interact and rotate the camera around to find many hidden clues and secrets.
During the game, you will be able to choose responses to certain situations. These answers will determine how you can collect more information on the main storyline. You will find various objects which will help you to progress in your journey. Much like in other puzzle adventures and hidden object games, you will need to be on the look out for these objects and sometimes will have to combine them together to overcome obstacles. Some of the collected items conceal more mysteries than one might imagine at first. Apparently, these things can be rotated. While zoomed, items require close inspection as there may hide clues. This reminded me a lot of how you could inspect everything in the Ace Attorney games when looking for evidence.
The Voice will task you with many difficult challenges and puzzles throughout the game, and they actually are logic based and can be difficult. And although I don't like these types of puzzles much, the game does a good job of making them unique and complex, which is something I don't mind at all. This system reminds me of some puzzles from the Professor Layton games. There will also be several occasions where you'll have to tackle a bunch of puzzles to unlock access or specific objects.
The 3D graphics are very interesting, but I think where the visualization really shines is when you are rotating an object and seeing that cool 3D effect. As for the game itself, I do like the overall tones that the graphics portray, as you can tell just by looking at how beautiful the game is by its amazing artwork throughout the game and by just looking at all its overtones and shading; it just works well in showing the overall tones of the story, and the PlayStation 4's enhanced graphics makes it just look great.
The original soundtrack of Subject 13 is composed by Olivier Derivière who had created, among others, the amazing soundtracks of video games, such as Remember Me and Assassin’s Creed IV: Freedom Cry. Several times awarded for his work (Annual Game Music Awards, Golden Trailer Awards…). Honestly, I didn't know that the composer of Assassin's Creed IV was the one who brought us this great soundtrack which does a great job capturing the mysterious game's atmosphere. However aside from that, there was also voice acting in this as well, and although I really do enjoy the voice acting, I feel like to me they didn't have an exact clear direction as to where they wanted to go with it. Especially in regards to the main protagonist: many times within the game we hear him having a conversation with the "voice" who calls him Subject 13, but when you go around exploring he is silent, and the only time you hear voice acting is when you listen to the testimonials you find, which I found to be very confusing. Other than that, I really enjoyed the voice acting; I feel like the actors portrayed the roles well and brought the characters to life, and they did a very good job with the voice acting.
Overall the game is great. It was a surprise that Subject 13 released for PC first and was successfully Kickstarted. It works great on PlayStation 4, and I assumed it was released for the console only. I can definitely say that this was a success. And although it has the simplicity of a puzzle adventure game, the developers were able to bring something unique and different with Aztec and sci-fi elements.
Story wise, it felt a bit weird as it reminded me an Uncharted game due to the many elements I saw within the game. I wish the protagonist's voice acting was better. The game has such a captivating story; it just draws you in, and I wanted to know more about how the protagonist got there and why. The Voice was something that added an element of mystery as we don't know what or who the Voice is until later in the game. One of the interesting things is how throughout the game you come across the testimonials which add more to the story and reveal more about Franklin's past before he ended up in the complex.
With these pros and cons in mind, I decided to give Subject 13 a 9.7 out of 10. I would've given this game a perfect 10 if the developers had figured out which direction they wanted to go with the voice acting for the protagonist. It really confused me but didn't hinder my experience. Those familiar with these type of games know that the aesthetics can be simplistic, and that's something that I don't mind at all; I'm fine with it. However, I'm worried that players who have never played point-and-click adventures before may be turned off, which is disappointing because the game is something they need to give a chance. If you like mysteries, sci-fi, or puzzle adventure games, you will enjoy Subject 13. I'm very impressed with what the developers have created. I look forward to their next work.