Techobabylon joins the sea of adventure game releases on Steam, but publisher Wadjet Eye Games are no stranger when it comes to scouting for promising adventures from up and coming developers. In the past, the publisher helped games like The Shivah and Blackwell get noticed, and now they’re helping developer Technocrat in getting their ambitious adventure game project to be the best it can be and enjoy mainstream appeal. Technobabylon by Technocrat is a sci-fi adventure game that first began life as a freeware title, but thanks to the involvement of Wadjet Eye, the final product on Steam benefits from better production values (evident in the voice acting), revamped and stylistic pixel visuals, and a well assembled adventure experience that benefits from changes and improvements in the story progression and script.
Technobabylon takes place in a sci-fi setting that is not to dissimilar to what what we’ve seen in adventure video games and other forms of media and entertainment. As you sink into the premise, setting and characters of Technobabylon, its influences become apparent in its nuances. Technobabylon will you remind you of classic movies Blade Runner, cult classic games like Policenauts and Snatcher, iconic anime/manga like Ghost in the Shell and even newer anime like Psycho Pass. The aforementioned examples all explore futuristic settings, where the the fabric of human values and morals are on the verge of breaking and becoming irrelevant.
Technobabylon takes place in the year 2087 in the utopian (although mostly dystopian) city of Newton. Technobabylon depicts a world where science has risen above ethics and morals, and everyone plays god with free-form genetic engineering. Social media and inter-web interaction has gone up a few notches too, with the virtual-reality medium called Trance giving people a platform to interact in a virtual world and not deal with the real world responsibilities. Such freedoms and technological progress come at a price, however, when a criminal mastermind manipulates these innovations and luxuries for pure evil.
Writing and plot progression, more than anything else, can make or break an adventure game and fortunately Technobabylon excels in this area. It’s a carefully interwoven tale tied together by characters and events that matter in the grand scheme of the plot. The characters are deep and you can’t help but instantly invest in their tale and care about them. Technobabylon is strikingly mature in its delivery and themes, with the levels of violence and mature themes being downright shocking but never feeling uncalled for. From political conspiracies to protagonists that are caught somewhere between good and evil, Technobabylon tells a compelling tale that you can care for.
The core gameplay of Technobabylon is a healthy dose of puzzle solving and some serious detective work, and the great thing about its design is that the puzzles feel organic and there is rarely ever a feeling of any of the solutions feeling contrived. It provides all the necessary pieces progressively, and it’s just a matter of bringing it together and using a bit of logic. The puzzles become more challenging and interconnected as the adventure progresses, and some of the best moments of the game are those that demand verbal negotiations.
The way the adventure is structured makes the decisions and actions of each character carry weight, and end up being genuinely consequential in terms of the plot progression, and how the choices of one character affects the other. The feeling of immersion is convincing too, as you sense a feeling of being able to explore and interact with the game world in an organic manner, and there’s certainly a lot of attention to detail in the environments, little things like making phone calls, driving around to different locations and even simple but fun little mini-games. There’s enough here to make you feel like you’re part of the game world.
Visually, Tecnobabylon carries a style akin to the DOS adventure game classics from yesteryear, and the pixelated graphics are put to good use to create some detailed environments and character sprites. Neon colors/lighting mixes nicely with the darker contrast and undertones to create an artistically charged setting. The most outstanding aspect of the presentation, however, is the voice acting, which is something that this commercial Steam release benefits greatly over the prior freeware edition of Technobabylon. The voice acting is top notch and professional, making it feel like you’re watching a crime thriller on TV.
While there is no shortage of choice when it comes to adventure games — especially on Steam — Technobabylon is not just another face in the crowd. Whether you’re a fan of exceptional adventure games, science fiction, or even its apparent influences, there is a memorable adventure in Technobabylon backed by a believable setting and driven by a strong narrative.