Reviews: Technobabylon

Technoba-Buy This

I'm part of a podcast you definitely haven't heard of named Indiecent where we take turns picking games to discuss and I was really excited when somebody picked Technobabylon. It's Cyberpunk! Everyone loves Cyberpunk! All that technology and gears and machinery and stuff, it's great! And this excitement lasted right up until I watched the opening cutscene and suddenly realised 'Oh no! I was thinking of Clockpunk like Syberia, or Steampunk like Dishonored. The only Cyberpunk experience I actually have is watching The Fifth Element, which I think is crap.

But I carried on playing anyway, and I'm glad I did, because Technobabylon is one of the best games I've played all year, primarily for the strength of its characters. There are three main characters, and each of them quickly becomes relatable through some very clever writing and traits. Latha is an unemployed but intelligent young woman who loves to spend time in an online world called 'The Trance', which clearly has parallels to drug addiction, including some grimy 'Trance Dens' where people get their fix, but it's mostly reminiscent of just spending too much time on the internet, which I'm sure most of us can relate to.

The other two main characters are agents for the city's police force, CEL. Charlie Regis is an older, more experienced agent, who prefers doing things the old-fashioned way and doesn't really like all of this new-fangled technology in his workplace. As the player is also a stranger in this world of technology, it's great to play as someone who is also unused to solving his problems this way. The last main character is his younger, more optimistic partner, Max Lao, who is awesome!!! which appeals to players of Technobabylon because they are also awesome.

The story is also strong. You first play as Latha in a simple Room Escape Game, justified because the power in her building went out, seconds before a bomb explodes in the apartment above her's. Meanwhile, Charlie and Max are on the tail of a serial killer called 'The Mindjacker' which becomes complicated when Charlie is blackmailed by someone in possession of some very important items from his past. The puzzles are standard, but well-designed, integrating classic point and click gameplay with a futuristic setting, and while it's not literally perfect - the plant-scanning puzzle and one irritating Karma Houdini come to mind - it's as close as could be expected, and I hear there's a sequel coming.

My greatest fear with Cyberpunk games is that they'll be indecipherable "You need to reboot the soul-RAM with his firewall.exe to uberdownload into the mainframe.jpg!" garbage, but this game is very charming, very easy to understand, and very, very good.

In short, this game makes it more than worth your time to get your technobabble on.

... Yup, the reason I reviewed this instead of Still Life or Syberia was just to make that pun.