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Gemini: Heroes Reborn (PC) artwork

Gemini: Heroes Reborn (PC) review

"Not bad for a game based off a since-cancelled T.V. show."

Maybe Iím missing something. Iím very much uncertain. Iíve neither watched the television show Gemini: Heroes Reborn is based upon, nor have I played the iOS-only prequel no one knows exists. Maybe in this pre-established universe, people are extraordinarily cavalier about suddenly developing superpowers in impossibly convenient situations.

Cassandra certainly is. After delving into the ruins of a derelict building, she takes a nasty fall and then watches her friend get dragged away by a group of mysterious armed guards. She then, rightfully, starts to panic as one of the soldiers breaks off from the pack to examine the debris in which she herself landed. About to be discovered by an angry stranger with a gun, and with her friend lying unconscious and bleeding only a few feet away, terror sinks in. She starts to beg and plead not to be discovered. When those pleas seem to fall on deaf ears and her discovery is imminentÖ she teleports out of the crumbling ruins of a forgotten building and into a pristine basketball court.

And Cassandra takes it all in stride. Perhaps apathy is a side effect of obtaining super powers, because very little that happens in the next handful of hours the game takes to complete seems to upset anyone. What she quickly learns is that she has some control over time, which allows her to jump between two fixed time zones. This enables her to explore the same building in different periods: both when it was a brand new facility, and when itís a collection of caved in ruins. Itís a clever mechanic, rendered slightly mundane by the exceedingly pedestrian reactions it generates. Any responses are more akin to the one you might experience when reaching into the pocket of a jacket you've not worn in a while and finding a small stash of money, rather than the one you would have upon suddenly realizing you now possess a super power that could change the world.

But thatís very much the kind of experience Gemini: Heroes Reborn promises you. On top of your time jump power, you soon learn to harness telekinesis. Itís not a power that unexpectedly awakens; you enter a room and thereís a syringe marked Ďtelekinesis; put this in your bodyí, so you shrug and do so without question. Cassandra can use this ability to pick up objects with her mind and then hurl them at people she doesnít like. She immediately starts slaughtering guards by the dozen, again without sparing a moment to question any of it. Their only offense seems to be their attempts to arrest the strange, indifferent girl who is trespassing in their workplace and killing their colleagues.

If you feel so inclined, you can grab the guards and fling them over platforms, or propel them into one another, or drag them back into the other time zone to torture them in a little bubble of safety where their friends no longer exist. Itís difficult not to feel sorry for them, but the dead, soulless way they react to Cassandra just blinking into existence a few feet away, or to suddenly finding themselves transported back in time so they can be pelted to death with plastic bins and office stationary, gives them a sentient punching bag vibe.

Gemini: Heroes Reborn (PC) image

Gemini is full of similarly goofy little things with which one might take issue. The developers cared so little about their clichťd, hackney plot that they gave away the biggest twist right in the game's trailer. The voice cast has contributed to some reasonably high-profile titles in the past, but here they sound disinterested to a man. And itís almost impressive how the design manages to make the Unreal engine look as dated as it does. Lighting is weird, sometimes throwing back glare so bad (often in fiddly first-person platforming sections) that youíre effectively blinded looking at things from certain angles. Moving your perspective one way or the other also produces a nauseating motion blur that makes no sense. Platforming sections contain an element of Mirriorís Edge, offering limited parkour sequences that more or less work, but you'll still wind up plummeting to your death even when you feel enough contact was made with your target to trigger a handhold. I think the game knows this. I think they were obligatory scenes that someone wanted to get out of the way as quickly as possible, the better to return to the business of murdering people with the power of a super human mind.

Thereís no way the design would employ such a ludicrously over the top rag-doll physics engine on the cast of enemies if that weren't the case. Letís be clear: launching a filing cabinet into a gun-toting thugís face and watching him vanish into the distance with his arms flapping away like they were made of spaghetti isnít bad coding; itís entirely intentional. Cassandraís abilities arenít slowly dialed up as she progresses; fresh coats of overkill are periodically slapped atop her rapid fire, giving her a ludicrous arsenal of ways to mow through the small army of unimpressed guards. You donít even have to kill anyone; thereís a strong argument to be made for stealth, as one of the first powers you unlock grants you an ability to open up a window between the time zones. This lets you map out enemy locations and tactically slip in and out of zones to bypass any kind of attention.

I myself used the ability for that particular purpose exactly never; my primary focus was in setting up hilarious ambushes. Pick up explosive canisters in one zone, herd the troops together in another, and then appear out of nowhere to blow them all to smithereens. Pull a guard telepathically out of his era and transport him to the old one, and fling him into a giant fan thatís still functioning. Then return with his broken corpse and hurl it at his friends.

I spent a lot of time wondering if I wasnít actually the villain in this story, as more and more powers were dropped on my lap. You can slow down time, increasing your power and making soldiers literal standing targets. You can stop bullets and then fling them back at people, even carefully plotting out the return path as you line up headshots for satisfaction or groin shots for childish giggles. I once rushed into a small office, where two guards were slightly irked at my presence. I grabbed one telepathically, slipped back into the time zone where his friend didnít exist and spiked him into the ceiling. You usually need to do this a few times before they die Ė theyíre resilient little buggers Ė but this time, well, this happened:

Gemini: Heroes Reborn (PC) image

When I spike someone into the bloody ceiling, I spike him into the ceiling for life.

Itís only the obligatory sappy ending that stops me from insisting that Gemini: Heroes Reborn is actually a villainís origin story. As she nears the endgame, Cassandra is confronted by a guard dressed from head to toe in bulky space marine-esque body armour, with rocket launchers grafted to each arm. ďHeís like a walking tankĒ she mutters, disinterestedly, a million miles away from the girl seen sobbing in a pile of concrete and bent roof girders a little over an hour previously. But why wouldnít she have evolved in that time? All it takes is catching one rocket then flicking it back to explode in his face, and the threat Ė if it was ever that Ė is annulled.

I didnít do that, of course. The encounter would have been over too quickly. Instead, I battered him slowly to death with a stack of wooden pallets, watching him drag himself painfully back to his feet after each blow, only to send him sprawling over and over again. Then I launched his corpse atop some stacking shelves so that anyone who entered that room saw what sadistic torture I would dole to people merely trying to do their job. Morally speaking, itís perhaps the wrong kind of fun. It's still fun, though, right?


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (January 23, 2016)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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