Revolution 60 is the first release by developer Giant Spacekat, and it will be released for iPhone and iPad on July 24nd*, and ported to PC and Mac at some point. I’m generally not a fan of mobile games, however I’ve been listening to the Isometric Podcast, and hearing the head of development Brianna Wu talk about it got me interested. The fact that I sat on my couch this weekend, playing this game on a tiny little iPhone screen when I had my PC and all the consoles sitting within 10 feet of me certainly says something.
I’d call Revolution 60 a cinematic adventure-RPG. It takes inspiration from Heavy Rain and Mass Effect, taking advantage of Quick Time Event-like gameplay, heavy use of interactive cinematics, and a dialogue and decision system which impacts the events of the game. The story is set in the future, where an AI called Chessboard controls much of the government. An all-female team of operatives are sent on a mission to re-establish control of a space station, but things are not quite as they seem. You mostly play as the sharp-tongued assassin, Holiday.
R60 has a distinctive and fun visual style, and looks great on iPhone. The environments are very futuristic, but many elements also have a 60s vibe. The character costumes are more Spice Girls than space marines.
The gameplay could be broken down into three different categories.
First there’s the combat. The combat mechanics were very innovative. You fight on a grid, where you can move up, back and sideways, and attack your opponent with ranged, melee and special attacks. The combat was fast-paced, fun, and relied a lot on timing. As you win battles, you level up and can choose talents to make your character stronger (my tip: take the increased attack speed talents). As the game progresses the fights do get a lot harder.
There are also action events – these are like QTEs, but were much more forgiving in that they didn’t require super fast reaction times. They involved things like tracing your finger along a line or shape, or timing tapping the screen. These events happened both in combat, as part of special attacks, and out of combat to do things like climb ladders, jump over gaps, or use computer consoles. I thought these were a good way to add some extra action during the cinematic sequences.
R60 also featured a surprisingly deep decision and dialogue system. Rather than just good/evil ( or paragon/renegade), your decisions impact a number of different tracks. There’s the Minuete vs. Amelia dichotomy – which of your teammates will you side with? There’s the Professional vs. Rogue track – do follow your mission above all else, or do you make your own choices? You also get a Proficiency score, based on how well you do at the action events which can affect the choices available to you later in the game. I’ve only played through the once, but it sounds like there are many different endings to the game based on the decisions you make.
You also are occasionally given the opportunity to move throughout the station, which uses a simple touch to move mechanic. When in explore mode, the paths which would move the story forward were marked in green, while the optional areas were marked in yellow. I liked this idea. While travelling through the station you’re usually also talking to one of your crewmates on your communicator, which adds some interest to an otherwise uneventful and slow-moving part of the game.
Overall, everything was well done. The game looks beautiful, the controls are responsive, and for the most part the story and gameplay flowed well. The characters were well-developed, well acted, and full of sass, so the dialogue and cinematics kept me entertained. I really liked the intro tutorial and the approach taken to help new players learn the game. The tutorial taught the basics, but more information was given to you any time you got a load screen. This added increasing complexity to the game without overloading you with information right at the beginning.
I do have some complaints. There are a few places where you need to battle 3 or 4 enemies in a row. While I generally thought combat was engaging, having to face battles back-to-back without anything to break them up was frustrating and immersion breaking for me. It also drove home how repetitive Holiday’s killing blow animation was. My other complaint was how movement, and especially the camera worked. I often felt the camera was working against me, as I would walk out of a door and it would spin around so I was facing that same door again when I was given the option to move. It wasn’t obvious this was happening at first as the hallways and doors all looked quite similar. After walking out of a room, getting spun around and walking back into the exact same room a couple times, I just stopped exploring and followed the green path.
I enjoyed playing Revolution 60 more than I thought I would. The gameplay was interesting, and the story was well-told. The voice acting (particularly Minuete) and the music were real standouts. I finished the game on normal mode in about 2 hours, which unlocked the hardest difficulty – girlfriend mode! I’d like to play again and see how different choices affect the outcome, though I may wait for the PC port to do so.
The game costs $5.99 and I really like how they’ve done the purchase model. You can download the game from the app store for free and play the introduction, which is about 20 minutes or so of gameplay. If you like it, you can pay to unlock the whole game, if not, you’ve lost nothing. So I definitely recommend at least trying it out.
Rating: 8/10 – A beautifully designed cinematic game that offered a deeper gaming experience than I expected from a mobile game. Though I found a few aspects of the gameplay frustrating, for the most part it was a fun experience with a solid story and great characters.
*You may be wondering how I’ve played this game when it hasn’t been released yet. No, I didn’t get an advanced copy. iTunes made a mistake and added it to the app store before it was supposed to be released, and I managed to snag it before it was taken down. I didn’t even realize it wasn’t supposed to be there until the head of development mentioned it on her Twitter.