Bandai Namco and GameCoder Studios’ Attractio is a first-person puzzler that attempts to fill in the void left by classics like Portal 1 and 2, giving players more boxes to play with and new head-scratching puzzles to solve, but this time set in the grounds of a deadly reality TV game show that’s held in a space station. While it’s not terribly original, does the game have enough going for it to entertain the masses?
Developed by GameCoder Studios/ Published by Bandai Namco
Available on the PC and PS4. Reviewed on the PC.
*Review code provided by Bandai Namco
Attractio’s plot is simple, straight to the point and very silly. Attractio is a galactic game show that has contestants attempt to clear a gauntlet of dangerous and tricky puzzle rooms using gravity in order to win a prize. The three contestants this time around are Dalek, a convict trying to win his freedom, Mia, a police woman from Mars looking to score some new technology, and Keir, a worker looking to provide for those in need. The first one to reach the end wins the prize, but only if they can survive the many dangers ahead.
If the idea of a space reality game show sounds corny as hell, it’s because it is, and while it could have been a good kind of campy, the story is pretty awful. Though the overall concept has potential, the writing in the game is dull and unimaginative, characters are flat and stereotypical, and the world-building is full of clichés and concepts that don’t really make sense (a quake in Mars is known as a marsquake? – edit – they do exist.). The subpar voice acting also doesn’t really add much to the whole experience either, so expect no surprises there.
Thankfully, the gameplay is much better than the bland plot, drawing influence from the best games in the genre. It plays very similarly to Valve’s Portal games, but it brings the ability to control gravity as the main gameplay mechanic, which is pretty cool. The controls are very similar as well, with players navigating the rooms from a first-person perspective and armed with a simple jump to get over small pits and climb waist-high platforms. Players can also pick up boxes, which are absolutely important in solving the game’s puzzles, and place them anywhere except in lava or dangerous liquids to climb up on to reach higher areas, or use them to activate switches needed in order to proceed past rooms. With the whole gravity element in play, players often need to manipulate it to get the boxes onto hard to reach places or shift the direction of gravity the box already has to send it flying where it needs to go. This is done by using special gravity boxes that shift other boxes’ gravitational fields depending on the side that touches the gravity box, making for some tricky and often original puzzles that’ll have players manipulating both types to solve cool scenarios. While it sounds pretty complex, the concept of playing with gravity is easy to learn and most puzzles can be solved pretty quickly. There’s a few of them here and there that’ll have players suffer for a bit, especially during the later stages, but once players figure out the trick to solving them, it’s pretty satisfying.
Adding to the challenge, the three competitors also have unique abilities of their own that are required to complete their respective puzzle rooms. Dalek can slow down time temporarily to catch fast moving boxes. Mia has gravity boots, which allow her to shift her gravity up or down to access additional platforms or paths. Keir has access to the Shifter gun, a weapon that allows players to manipulate the gravity of a box in six directions: up, down, left, right, backward, and forward. Soon after however, all three get access to the same tools. With these abilities, players gain even greater control of gravity, but they also add additional problems that need solving. Thankfully, these abilities are easy to use and are quite handy, though the Shifter Gun’s six directions are a bit of a hassle to switch between (particularly with the mouse on the PC), which can cause things to go wrong due to tricky controls rather than human error.
Players will also get a chance to switch between characters at a later point in the game as well. Initially, players get to control the three characters in individual stages, but at one point of the game, the characters will have to work together to progress. Switching between them is a breeze however, and it keeps the game from getting stale in the later stages.
Despite the entertaining and occasionally frustrating campaign, the game is pretty short, and even with three characters to play with, the replay value is low. Fortunately, a challenge mode also exists, challenging players to complete the campaign puzzles in a timely manner. While most of the in-game records are a bit crazy, it’s a fun option for those who like to challenge themselves with speedruns.
While the game draws a bit too heavily from other first-person puzzlers, GameCoder Studio’s Attractio is an entertaining adventure that has a few cool ideas that makes it stand out from the rest. Sure, the storyline and voice-acting is terrible and the setting could use some work, but the gameplay is solid and the gravity mechanic is neat enough to warrant a try.