I wanted so badly to love this Project Remedium by Atomic Jelly. Let me be clear: for a first venture into game development, this is not a terrible attempt. The setup is brilliant and original: you are a nanobot fixing a sick patient. A small story with big importance. When I first entered the game I was absolutely blown away by the aesthetics and sound. It felt like exactly how I imagine it would feel to be a nanobot in that scenario. Within the first fifteen minutes, I was absolutely blown away. Unfortunately, as time plodded on I began to see more and more of the problems with the game, and honestly most of them could have been fixed had they stayed a bit longer in Early Access. That is how this game felt: like an Early Access title. However, when I saw I was writing a review and not a preview I groaned out loud. Though the graphics, sound, and bits of the story are stellar and the developers are actively involved in its improvement; the monotonous gameplay, lack of explanation for most of the mechanics, and tons of game-breaking bugs indicate a game that has a good heart, but was released desperately unfinished.
Project Remedium is available on Steam for $14.99.
A little girl has fallen ill and into a coma, but modern science fiction has the answer! State-of-the-art nanobots have been injected into her bloodstream to diagnose and repair the damage before she is lost. Before a lowly bot can properly assess the damage, it is put out of commission. After an unspecified amount of time, you are revived and upgraded by the mysterious supervisor bot Supervisette and commissioned Nano+, a nanobot fully equipped to find the damage and destroy the source of the sickness once and for all!
I will say right away that the story is what drew me into this game in the first place. The setup is absolutely brilliant and original and I was gripped at first. I really wanted to know what was going on and I was at the edge of my seat. I slowly started to recline when I started hearing about the Great Infection caused by a bot that went haywire I started to recline a bit because I knew exactly where it was going. That aspect of the story didn't take many turns I didn't expect, though I won't spoil it.
The part of the story I loved was the reason all of these bots are acting weird. See, all of the nanobots are acting weird: some like gangsters, some like miners, some even develop religion. This is due to forces that Supervisette has named "Revelation Waves." That part was a lot of fun and it kept me intrigued from beginning to end.
The levels are rather open and getting around is simple enough, but that isn't what I wanted to talk about. What I wanted to talk about is the grappling hook. The grappling hook is seriously the best part of the best part of the gameplay. Press q to zip around like a microscopic Rico Rodriguez. It's fast, it's easy, and it's a great way to get around the level quickly and easily.
This game is very linear and the missions are super predictable. Either go to a place to talk to a bot, clear a wave of enemies, fetch three items, or do a combination of the three. It nearly felt like and MMO with how little variety there was in variety. In addition to this, I have no idea how these save points are supposed to work. It didn't save every time I passed a checkpoint and there wasn't a save option. As a result I was kind of scared whenever I had to leave the game because I wasn't sure if I would be losing any of my progress.
There are some RPG elements, you gain enough experience to level up and you can put points into new skills, but I never really found many of them to be that impactful to gameplay, at least not in any way that made me notice my progression. I noticed my weapon unlocks more than I noticed my skills. I'm not saying that the character upgrades are useless, I'm just saying that at no point did I feel like Nano+ was much stronger after all it had been through.
It isn't as though I didn't enjoy fighting the hordes of pathogens, but the combat felt…well…confused. You move quickly and there is a good though not stellar variety of weapons, so you would think this would be run-and-gun, right? Well, kind of, but you run out of ammo on both weapons really quickly and it regenerates slowly without items, which is something that would be great if you could take cover but there isn't much of that. Even if you do use an item to increase the regeneration rate, they don't last quite long enough and identical consumables don't stack in a slot. The result is trying to find a place that's safe for about ten seconds while you navigate the occasionally unresponsive controls to load in more structure and ammo items and hope that your enemies don't get to you first.
Something that I did really love about the combat was the organ health meter. You're trying to heal the patient, not do more damage, so you need to avoid collateral damage or else there are consequences. I don't know if you lose when it hits 0% because it's very easy to keep it up and avoid collateral damage, especially if you're like me and you usually go for precision pistols and rifles in games anyway.
I touched a bit on this in the last section, but there is more to them. You can find them, but you will craft most items in the "Little Pharma" section. There are a lot of options, but the only ones I ever used were the ones that regenerated my health and ammunition. There are only four slots and you can't place new things in there without leaving yourself open for a while, so if you have a long fight and you're out, you'd better hope you can run faster than all the enemies or else you'll die. I mean, I'm sure the other items do better things, but if there were some dedicated buttons for health and energy therefore leaving numbers one through four for random buffs, I think that would fix this problem, but as is it kind of breaks the pace of combat when you're just running around trying to survive while you wait until you can shoot again.
I mentioned this before but I feel it bears repeating: The bugs in this game are awful. The developers are frequently patching in fixes, but I can't excuse this many game-breaking bugs in a linear story in a game that is officially released. Sometimes the bugs are minor, like the voice lines not coming through or the subtitles not showing up. Sometimes they're nuisances like when my game started lagging for no reason. Sometimes, however, they are infuriating. At one point in time after beating a boss, my grappling hook stopped working for no reason so I had to quit the game and reload, then when I came back I had to beat the boss again. Once when I had to fight the final boss, the thing disappeared on me and I physically couldn't hit it. These are some huge glaring issues that I think should have been solved with a bit of extra time in Early Access, and I would forgive it if this was the case. I appreciate the developers trying to fix all of the problems, but I really think they don't look good in a full release. This is made even worse by the fact that this game is a linear progression. Even if they do fix all of my complaints, I won't have any reason to go back and play because I've beaten the game already. Unless they add more content, I've already played the full game and found its flaws.
Graphics and audio
As I mentioned before, this game looks amazing. I was worried at first that each organ would feel the same and it would just have some slightly different obstacles, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Each area had a completely different feel. If you were to show me screenshots of the game and ask me which one was of the liver and which was of the kidneys, I could definitely tell you. If I were actually a nanobot fixing a human body, this is exactly how I think it would look.
The sound is also done very well. The SFX are decent and do well to add to the whole ambiance of being inside the human body and the music is soft and sounds, for lack of a better term, science-y. It was never overbearing but it meshed well with the level in conveying the setting.
|+ Beautiful settings||– Confused combat|
|+ Good weapon variety||– Monotonous quests|
|+ Active developers||– Game-breaking bugs|