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Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space (PC) artwork

Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space (PC) review

"Break out the Visine"

Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space (PC) image

Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space's title screen triggered a flashback. My mind raced back to the early '90s, when most of my peers spent Friday nights either sneaking out of their homes to chase after girls or cozying up to bottles of hand lotion. I, on the other hand, hung on the wise words of the legendary Joe Bob Briggs of TNT's Monstervision, where I viewed more bad sci-fi and horror films than any person probably should. Twenty years have passed, and here I am on a modern Friday night about to tear into a point-and-click adventure title that, at least early on, feels like a playable B-movie. Does it feature spotty acting? Check. An experiment gone wrong? Affirmative. Cockamamie devices? Absolutely. Let's also not forget the antagonists: cyclopean monstrosities who hearken back to ancient drive-in flicks and popcorn thrillers of yore. There's a bit of "The Crawling Eye" in them, not to mention shades of "The Green Slime", and perhaps even some Lovecraftian influences.

And yet, despite the foes' campy appearances, the campaign has a few genuinely creepy moments. For instance, there's a scene in which our hero finds himself trapped in a small room with a monster outside of it, loudly searching for a means of ingress. Unarmed, the protagonist chooses to orchestrate an elaborate trap involving a rat, a rope, and a loose vending machine. I'm not kidding when I say that my stomach was in knots as I opened the portal and granted the beast access so that he might take the bait. A terrible thought also occurred to me then: suppose the monster doesn't desire the rodent and that all this time he was pawing at the entryway for a bit of man-flesh... That's when the frantic clicking began, as if somehow my rapid index finger would force the vending machine to leap across the chamber onto the predator. My vision blurred and I broke into a fright-induced squeal, and the cooler half of me thought, "Geez, only a few minutes into this thing and you've already scared yourself into a 'game over.'" My panic subsided, though, and I discovered the snack dispenser toppled over with alien limbs protruding from beneath it.

I had hoped that there would be more segments like this one...

Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space (PC) image

Unfortunately, the middle of the game doesn't exude horror or science fiction to the extent that the earlier and later phases do. For the most part, the game consists of a series of rooms that house logic-based puzzles, only some of which feature eerie or terrifying material. There aren't many segments that showcase the tense build experienced in the aforementioned scenario, though there are a few freaky moments. On one occasion, for example, I plunged into a sewer, expecting the only other watery inhabitants to be floating barrels. I turned the camera a little to the left and beheld the unfurling tentacles of a one-eyed abomination, swimming towards me with the obvious intentions of noshing on my deceased bits. After a world class scream that nearly woke the rest of my family, I hysterically commenced holding the W key in conjunction with Left Shift whilst arbitrarily dragging my mouse in every direction. Long story short, I accidentally saved my own life and exited the cesspool.

Although the game sounds terrifying, the truth is it's mostly composed of visceral scares. You might spy the horrible visage of an extraterrestrial and go insane at first, but after you've calmed down, you'll find that there's nothing before you but a standard puzzle with the added annoyance of a blood-thirsty critter. Therein lies part of the problem. The game's structure is such that rooms and hallways don't impact one another. You don't get the feeling that you're exploring a massive complex with unseen horrors hiding in nearby locations or that a being in a room down the corridor might stumble into your current whereabouts and unzip your torso. For the most part, each area is isolated and the boogeymen outside cannot enter unless called upon to do so by the storyline. You don't get the same sense of dread as you would from a more fleshed out facility with interconnected chambers.

Thankfully, the game provides you with such clever puzzles that the rooms you visit don't feel like a complete waste of time or space. For the most part, the game gives you ample clues for each riddle without beating you over the head with solutions. The protagonist might make a verbal note of a lack of light or that a pipe seems to be too clogged to be of use. You know, standard point-and-click fare that requires the use of an event item found elsewhere in the same locale... In other cases, you might actually have to observe an object in your inventory before utilizing it. As I recall, one segment requires you to enter a password on a tablet's touchscreen. At no point does the game so much as drop a hint on the code, but if you examine the touchscreen more closely, you might notice that it's been used a few times before...

Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space (PC) image

I wish I could say that Albedo was an endless orgy of brain-teasers, but the truth is the game's puzzles aren't very memorable. Yeah, climbing out of the gullet of a worm-like behemoth made for a neat, suspenseful experience, but I am honestly struggling to remember some of the other riddles, many of which include such yawn-inducing point-and-click tropes as putting out a fire, unblocking a gear/piece of machinery, picking a lock, nabbing an out-of-reach key, placing objects in water to serve as platforms leading to a computer terminal, etc. Granted, there are a few unique scenarios, but they're sandwiched between instances of banality. I'm not saying the game's puzzles are bad, per se, but they're not all terribly interesting.

I guess I also wouldn't be as put off by the puzzles were the game not so glitchy. No, I'm not saying Albedo has more bugs than an ant farm or anything, but it's irritating when you can't complete a puzzle because an event item has become lodged in the floor. During one riddle, I needed to read some blueprints in order to initiate a mini-game reminiscent of the classic puzzler Pipe Dream, except in 3D. The only problem was that I inexplicably couldn't interact with said schematic. Regardless of my proximity or how many times I reloaded the game, it was as if the document had become a permanent piece of the floor's texture. Thankfully, the game keeps a record of autosaves and allows you to reload old ones. Unfortunately, when I wasn't griping about necessary objects becoming environmental fixtures, I was sobbing over generic crashes. Several times throughout the campaign, I would enter a door and expect to see a new region appear before me, only to find myself staring at my Steam library.

Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space (PC) image

I wish I could fully endorse Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space. It's got some neat logic problems, a few taut scenes, and wonderfully campy visuals, but it's marred by vapid stage designs and bugs. Honestly, I think the game should have gone for broke. I'm not talking about a fully open world title, but a more detailed collection of set pieces, creative puzzles, improved stability, and perhaps some more B-movie goodness would have worked wonders for this adventure.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (April 25, 2015)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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