|INSOMNIA: The Ark|
|release date||September 27, 2018|
On September 27, 2018, INSOMNIA: The Ark was released – an atmospheric long-term RPG from Mono Studio. The game was made by 12 people, it took seven years to release, completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, survived a couple of crises, but made it to release.
The whole story takes place on Object 6 – a huge space station that carries the last earthlings to a new home. The path lasts 400 years. During this time, people have forgotten the developed technologies of their ancestors, so they somehow exist in a new space dwelling.
True, a small part of the inhabitants are awake, and two-thirds of the population are in cryosleep and will wake up when Object 6 arrives at the right place. Suddenly, a powerful explosion occurs at the station. He destroys thousands of capsules, and some of the sleepers wake up and fall ill with somnolence – a side effect of cosmic sleep.
One of the awakened becomes our protagonist. He miraculously bypasses the effect of doubt, but his consciousness sometimes remembers what was in Limbo – a buffer zone for sleeping minds, and shows the hero mysterious visions.
After being examined by doctors, the player is appointed a warrior and sent to dangerous sectors to help pacify the rebellious inhabitants of the station. Thus begins a long and twisted adventure, where the protagonist is drawn into the decision of the fate of Object 6.
The world of INSOMNIA: The Ark looks like a tough retrofuturistic dystopia. No wonder the visual style and atmosphere of the game has been compared to a cross between the Fallout and Bioshock series. But from the first there is still more.
For four centuries of chattering in space, people settled down at the station and arranged a new semblance of a dead Earth: a tough ruling elite, intelligentsia, bandit clans, religious sects, beggars and the local middle class, which they call heterosexuals, appeared.
Object 6 is divided into many zones. The main ones are the capital Urb, the Junkyard and the Slums, as well as the Outer Radius. Each district has its own standard of living, problems, role in the existence of the station and other differences. Urb is the abode for the rich and the ruling elite. Anarchy reigns in the Garbage and local gangs are operating, and getters live in the Outer Radius. This section of the population is under government protection and maintains the few remaining mechanisms of Object 6. But even in the clean zones, the ancient age of the station is visible, and the poor areas look like garbage dumps from any post-nuclear setting.
The beginning of the storyline is difficult to perceive and a little chaotic – too quickly the gamer is thrown into the local seething cauldron of conflicts. But the story gradually tightens and becomes an ornate parable with an admixture of space fantasy, politics and philosophy. Additional quests do not shine with originality and for the most part require you to go there, bring or kill something or someone. But even here there are interesting ideas that you don’t mind spending a couple of hours of your life on.
INSOMNIA: The Ark is a classic third-person RPG with real-time combat. The gamer has access to one of five classes: Helot, Thingmaster, Ordinator, Tector and Huntsman. According to the description, they differ in the level of weapon proficiency, biography and starting characteristics. But, in fact, the difference between them is only in the last two points, because any class behaves the same in battles and, if necessary, switches from ranged combat to melee and vice versa.
The selected development branch affects the appearance of special answers in dialogues. They will help you complete a quest, get an additional reward, or find important information. The choice of profession also affects the attitude of different segments of the population towards the character and the ending depends on it, of which there are five.
The meager experience points gained by hard work must be carefully and wisely distributed between combat skills and passive skills. The latter are especially important: without them, you can’t open a box with valuable loot, you can’t pick a lock to the right location, you can’t defuse a bomb on the way, you can’t turn off the dangerous bot squad control generator.
The combat system of INSOMNIA: The Ark is an alternate use of melee and ranged combat, with rolls and simple stealth. Two weapon slots are available for shooting, where pistols, machine guns, rifles, shotguns and machine guns are equipped. Any object that can hit the enemy is inserted into the melee compartments – from a wrench to a pumped cleaver with improvements.
Close combat is primitive and occurs using two keys – attack and block. It is the same with long-range combat: with the right mouse button, aim at the enemy, wait until the sight is aimed and shoot. There are also rolls that often help in combat, and they are allowed to use the environment to destroy opponents. At any opportunity, it is better to shoot enemies silently – you will have to shoot less, which means saving valuable cartridges. Useful consumables are available for use in and out of combat in the form of HP recovery syringes, stimulants with temporary buffs, grenades and other goodies.
Companions will help the player in further battles. They appear after completing a special quest. Local assistants are far from their counterparts from Skyrim, so they know how to get underfoot during the battle and get stuck between locations. They also cannot be loaded with things and put on more powerful gear, and a simple scale of a couple of three skills is available for development.
Inventory in INSOMNIA: The Ark only received item sorting after release. The backpack resembles other classic RPGs, where the place is divided into squares, and things, depending on the size, occupy a certain number of them horizontally and vertically. There is a carry weight penalty in the game. If this happens, then the character receives a debuff on movement speed.
The developers have not forgotten about crafting either. You can create things on special machines and only according to recipes. And because of the shortage of everything and everything, but the abundance of rubbish underfoot, it is necessary and possible to craft useful things all the time. On the local machines it is convenient to make cartridges, weapon repair kits, amplifiers, grenades, clothes and more.
There is no difficulty setting in the game, and by default it is around Hard. The project will not seem like an easy walk through space, so the local atmosphere of cruel desperation is transferred to the passage itself.
Everything is hard here: defeating more than two enemies at the same time, collecting money for new gear, getting ammo, not dying more than three times in a couple of minutes, finding the right place on a wretched map (it doesn’t exist at all in many locations), getting food, water, first-aid kits and even survive. And I recommend doing the latter all the time if you don’t want to start from nowhere, because the game always throws unpleasant surprises for the gamer, especially when moving around the global map.
So, local adventures on the map represent the movement of the hero icon in real time. There are also bigger icons – various locations and destinations. On the way, the protagonist may stumble upon mini-locations with bandits, merchants or homeless people that cannot be missed. And if there are no problems with the latter, then thugs rarely manage to get through peacefully. And okay, if the character goes on a mission with full pockets of ammunition and equipment. But often it turns out the other way around, and the hero with a whole backpack of junk and empty clips stumbles upon a squad of enemies.
A similar system was in Dragon Age: Origins and other popular RPGs. In this case, a strong word, dropped through teeth and maximum concentration on the game, helps. You can still load the last save, but it’s not a fact that it won’t throw a worse surprise.
The weak points of the game are graphics, animation and optimization. This is a problem with many other category B projects, and the brainchild of Mono Studio has not been able to avoid this rule either.
INSOMNIA: The Ark looks like the game of the year since 2014. There is poor character animation, and the main character constantly “enters” objects, “merges” with weapons, with garbage boxes in which he digs, with stair railings, with partitions and other environmental objects .
The game has a limited view of the camera because it only moves horizontally. I really want to lower it or raise it up, take a closer look at local atmospheric locations, rotate the picture for an epic screenshot, but this is impossible. All that is allowed is to move the camera left and right.
All screenshots published in this review were taken at the highest possible level of graphics settings. They are called “epic” here, and either they mock gamers, or they flatter themselves very much. The game also often sags in fps for no apparent reason. This happens not in wide locations with a large number of people and buildings, but in narrow corridors or during battles.
The local sound design and music smooths out the unpleasant impressions from the graphics. INSOMNIA: The Ark is filled with all sorts of walking sounds, station hull creaks, robot grunts, local radio voices, and atmospheric space music. According to the creators, deep ambient and viscous noir jazz sounds in the background. These melodies add the right mood to the passage and take the gamer into the cramped nooks and crannies of a huge space metropolis.
Overall impressions of INSOMNIA: The Ark are mostly positive. A modest team of developers for ridiculous money came up with an atmospheric and hardcore RPG with simple but addictive gameplay and an intricate story campaign. The project received a lore worked out to the smallest detail, a worthy story about a giant space city, as well as correctly presented and composed music with soul. The game has problems with the look, limited camera and optimization, but this is not a surprise for category B projects. The meager graphics do not prevent you from enjoying the passage and with pleasure, but with occasional annoyances, explore the Object 6 drifting in space.