So how do you make a review of a game that is barely 5 minutes long, and not just that, but a free title where you can’t really complain about what you got? This is the challenge I met when tackling Scenario 5B, as it was an intriguing game made for the MAGS competition that shows a lot of promise. So this article is going to look at this as a proof of concept for something bigger, rather than as an actual, fully released game.
You are destined to die
As the playable avatar, you wake up strapped to a bed with two other patients and one man in a white robe. He notices that you are conscious and tells you about a deadly virus that you have obtained, which will make you lose your senses, then the ability to use your limbs, then the rest of your body’s functions. As of now, you have only lost your voice, which is highly unlikely for it to go first. Nonetheless, they will find out more once you are dead, as the man puts it. Safe to say, you need to get out of there. The story does not go further than this, besides giving you an ending that raises questions that quickly lead to some interesting theories.
Since you are weak, vulnerable, and in a place that is as hostile as the worst horror-movie focusing on claustrophobia, it creates a wonderful tension and suspense due to the uncomfortable situation alone. It is just a shame that it ends before more can be told. I am also puzzled that a protagonist in a point and click does not have more interesting descriptions on what is around him to give him and the environment more of a personality, but maybe this was an artistic-choice. To be fair, who would have time to make witty or insightful comments when you just need to get out like yesterday?
Story Score: 7.5/10
Solid start, but loses itself
Set up as a point & click, Scenario 5B follows the essential elements. You use the mouse to interact with objects and move your character, pick up items, use them for puzzles in order to proceed, and talk to people. Well, to be honest: you talk to one person and, while the dialogue-options are nice for giving some personality to your avatar and funny comments, there is not much else than that and it is severely short-lived. Instead, there are two puzzles, with one dealing with how to open a door that needs multiple procedures, and another about you actually getting out of the bed.
In fact, there are only three rooms you will venture through, but it makes the puzzles focused as to not take you on a big fetchquest, never leaves you confused about where to go, so you should never be stopped for long. Sadly, this means the game is not even 5 minutes long as stated before. It is a good starting point, and if the puzzles continued on like this, I would have been very much intrigued about a full-fledged title. The cursor also changes whenever you can interact with an object and there is no pixel-hunting to speak of, making it never hard to find what you need to do. The only real concern I have is the concept of losing your abilities. In the left-bottom corner of the screen, there are 5 letters: S, H, V, A, L. Each represents your current ability to see, hear, speak, and use your arm and legs, but none are conveyed into the game-mechanism, which makes it a missed opportunity, and just present for an uncomfortable setup story-wise.
Gameplay Score: 7/10
Three uncomfortable rooms
While there are only three rooms, they convey an unsettling atmosphere due to using sterilized and metallic walls and floor, with only a couple of humans and machinery filling partly this empty space. The lovely pixel-art is well used here, with good animations for our characters. Everything is in few colors, mostly shades of white, black and grey, and it makes this unsettling area more effective and immersive. There are some animations that could not be conveyed, such as the main-character climbing a barrel and there isn’t much else to speak of in this game visually, but those are smaller gripes when the game is so short. The music is done using dark, grim tones with long echoes of light tones, making it just a creepy and terrifying vibe as you hear it get louder and darker.
Presentation Score: 8/10
If there was a full-fledged title being made out of this, I definitely would have been curious enough to give it a shot. The uncomfortable concept, nice puzzles, and interesting and mysterious premise combine with unsettling presentation and setup shows a lot of promise, as long as they go further with them. As of now, it is a nice demonstration of what could have been, though it has piqued my interest for the team’s other project: Office Management 101.