Many years ago, I used to spend hours reading ‘choose your own adventure’ books. These interactive stories put you in the driving seat, where the direction of the story depended on your actions. While writing this, I was surprised to find they’re still around! Making the switch from page to digital, these books find a new lease of life as Interactive Novels.
MetaHuman Inc. is one such Interactive Novel. Placed in charge of a corporation that makes and sells superpowers and abilities, the goal is to research new abilities, project a good corporate image, keep the shareholders happy, and, naturally, stop an alien invasion.
As the story unfolds, you interact with a host of supporting characters, each affected by the choices you make. The CEO of a rival company can become your business rival, or your lover. You can make or break the career of an intrepid reporter. Rule over your employees with an iron fist, or make sure they’re happy with a well-stocked staff room.
This element of resource management adds a refreshing break between chapters. The player can decide where to allocate funds a research. Do you spend money on PR? Hire more research staff? Or plough cash into MetaHuman abilities such as time jumping and cybernetic eyes? New abilities will net you more sales, but will anyone buy from a company with a bad public image?
The story is well written, and flows quite well. Choices and conversations actually seem to matter, branching the story off into different directions, rather than railroading the player down one path. These choices and paths give the game a strong replay factor.
This is probably a good thing, as the game itself is quite short. It only takes an hour or so to play through, depending on reading speed. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the story does feel complete. It didn’t feel that it ended too quickly, or padded out.
Graphically, however, is where the game falls down. Being an Interactive Novel, it’s to be expected that it should be text-based. Unfortunately, it is purely text-based. This, the Steam store page says, is because the game is “fueled (sic) by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.”. This doesn’t quite pan out in-game. The layout is very spartan, and you’ll find yourself scrolling through walls of text on a stark white background. The only glimpse of colour comes in the form of charts on the stats screen.
This may have been an artistic decision, but it makes for a bland experience. The game could really benefit from background images for each scene, just to break up the monotony of nothing but black text on a white background.
On the whole, MetaHuman Inc. is a solid story experience with plenty of replayability. However, if you’re looking for something visually engaging, it’s not for you. The dull interface makes it difficult to keep focus, and sucks some of the immersion out of the game. Still, if you enjoy a fun story with branching options, it’s worth a go. Just maybe wait until it’s on sale.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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