Tarr Chronicles: Fade of Ghosts
Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: Role Playing Game
I had the opportunity to take a test run on the upcoming Tarr Chronicles, a PC game based on a series of Russian science fiction novels. The game plays out like a real heady space combat game, with plenty of action, and if you’re into it, a lot of depth in the story.
Some of the details are still unknown (or translated) but the basic premise has a race, presumably humans, in the far future having discovered a certain artifact About the same time an alien race appears and decides that there’s one race too many in the galaxy. A couple of misdirected hyperspace jumps later, and we are at the beginning of the game.
Certainly the story may seem a little familiar (especially to those who are regular viewers of a current program airing on the Scifi Network) but coming from a series of novels, as well the developer’s strong emphasis on story, from what I saw there may be some clichés (most science fiction entities have them at this point anyway) but the plot and execution appear to be very solid and well thought out.
There is so much faith and emphasis on the game’s single player story that there won’t be any multiplayer included. The single player game is going to be rich enough that simply adding a multiplayer dogfight would probably diminish the finished product. Frankly, I’m glad there won’t be a multiplayer portion, as it allows more efforts put into the single player game, and there’s plenty of games out there already that do what Tarr Chronicles would.
So how good is the single player game? The opening cinematic, helping to establish some of the backstory is certainly evocative of some of the classic science fiction films from the 50’s and 60’s – and not the cheesy ones either. The black and white intro helps set the mood and gives players a sense that this is going to be a little different style of space combat game, with some rich detail in the story. Yes, you’ll be able to simply skip the cutscenes and head straight into the battles if that’s your thing.
As the game progresses, players will learn more about this artifact, the alien race and how the two are connected. The action all takes place in space, and the story is told through cutscenes and in-game dialogue. Right now the game is still all in Russian, though there is English subtitles. The audio was amazing, with plenty of stuff going on. I am hoping that some of the on-essential background radio chatter doesn’t get completely translated because it really adds to the atmosphere.
The controls performed quite well, with both an “over the shoulder” style third-person view as well as one from the cockpit. Barrel rolls, targeting, speed management, target locking, and more all perform as necessary and expected. Players have the option of selecting both friendly and enemy targets, which does come in handy when performing an escort mission and you get pulled away in a firefight.
Also with regards to controls, in addition to primary and secondary weapons, there is actual collision detection, so the various ships need to be careful of the various debris and equipment floating about. The first time I collided with a stationary object I suffered heavy damage, then subsequently lost the ship as just a few more direct hits found their way to my backside.
While my playtime with Tarr Chronicles was limited, I am looking forward to getting the full game. Sure the storyline may be a bit played out, but told well, even the same storycan find a way to resonate with audiences The gameplay so far seems solid as well, which usually helps when the medium of entertainment is a game.
Only getting to check out the game for a few hours isn't the same as a full review, but from what I saw, there was plenty of quality under the hood. I'm looking forward to spending a lot more time with the game when it is released.