Kings Of The (Warp) Frontier

HIGH Incredibly well-done narrative with strong voice acting.

LOW Some sections can be a bit tedious.

WTF I want to punch MAC so hard…

Despite what one might think and the numerous tools available, making a decent point-and-click is quite hard. Sure, one could make a ‘safe’ and nostalgic affair in the vein of classic Lucasarts and Sierra titles from the ’90s, but haven’t we already got enough of those? We should instead celebrate those few brave products that go in a different direction, along with those that tell fascinating stories. We had Strangeland earlier this year, and now Warp Frontier.

Developed by Australian studio Brawsome, this point-and-click’s plot feels very much the first season of a rich sci-fi space opera.

In the space suit of police captain Vincent Cassini, we’ll find ourselves solving war crimes that have caused the thousands of people to disappear from the planet Cetus, on top of having to deal with family issues and work woes. There is a bit of everything here, all of it flavored with classic science fiction.

The narrative is spread throughout many places to visit and characters to talk to. Despite not offering full ‘freedom’ in space that one might expect from an exploration title, Warp Frontier succeeds in making us live the routine of a cosmic police captain. For example, Cassini’s ship has to be cared after, and there are some concerns such as maintaining atmospheric pressure and preventing any leakage in the hull.

Cassini is accompanied on his rounds by MAC, a robotic ball-like companion. While at first it acts only as a kind of sidekick in the vein of a humorous Star Wars droid, it’s soon revealed that MAC has a different function — it will be a constant judge and observer in everything we do.

While at first we will be taking the police captain on his patrol, the narrative soon takes a turn when Cassini stumbles into some friends from the old days — he thought they were gone for good, but apparently something much more sinister has happened. To get to the bottom of this, he will have to work with a mysterious organization while also keeping up appearances in his usual police role. Meanwhile, his family needs attention and he’ll have to deal with a wife who doesn’t seem to appreciate him that much…

In terms of gameplay, expect the usual clicking on things to collect items, solve puzzles and talk. That said, Warp Frontier‘s design saves the player a lot of clicking since there is no Examine function — Cassini simply makes automatic textual observations when the pointer passes over objects. Those observations, though, will many times double as hints. Also, if those hints aren’t enough, there is a fully-fledged hint system which offers gradual nudges so that one can start with small pointers without spoiling entire sections. This is expertly done.

Despite this being an indie game with a small budget, the game is fully voiced with a strong cast, offering the unusual choice of Australian actors, which reflects the dev’s country of origin. There are a few instances where an actor is clearly using a cheap microphone but, for the most part, the performances are surprisingly good.

In fact, the amount of detail that Brawsome managed to put in with the voicework and script is fantastic. Things like having to care after the ship and the variety of different replies that Cassini gives if we try to use an object in the wrong way instead of one generic “it doesn’t work“. With that said, there were a couple of sections which I found more tedious than the rest, like having to explore a darkened mine with only two fuses. Constantly going back and forth to move the fuses around various slots to continue exploring was a pain.

In total, Warp Frontier was an unexpected surprise. This well-written, well-designed point-and-click adventure please genre fans and — perhaps — might even entice a few newcomers to try this storied genre.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Brawsome. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC. Approximately 5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: The game is not rated by the ESRB, but it contains blood, violence, language and adult themes like war crimes. Still, considering it’s not worse than the average Netflix series, I still would recommend it to a teen audience.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes, but it is possible to press space to see all hotspots on screen.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game features subtitles for all spoken dialogue. Text cannot be altered or resized. (See above for examples.) Audio is not needed to complete the game. In my view, the game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: There is no control diagram. The game is controlled via the mouse, with minimal additional keyboard shortcuts (SPACE to see hotspots or ESC to bring up the menu). The controls are not remappable.

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