With the constant evolution of technology it is always interesting to think about where the next leap will come. We can easily take and share pictures, as well as store infinite amounts of data. How long until we can upload ourselves, with our minds living forever inside a machine? And what effect would this have on our society and our personal sanity? Master Reboot (2014) takes the concept of being able to upload memories into a machine and attempts to deal with some of the frightening consequences.
The game takes place in the Soul Cloud, a computer storage system that holds people’s uploaded memories of their past. Each person has a personal soul cloud that their family and friends can access and explore whenever they log in. In Master Reboot, the player’s soul cloud has become broken and warped by a digital glitch, named Kali. The player must go through each memory and put things right while mentally battling against Kali who is desperately trying to push you out of the system.
The story revolves around the playable character’s life, and the discovery of why Kali is trying to ruin everything. This is shown through small cut-scenes at the end of most areas, but on the whole, the story comes through pictures and pieces of information scattered through-out levels in the form of toy ducks. The story posed constant intriguing questions, and pushed me to play through the game as quickly as possible in order to find the next piece of the puzzle. I wanted to know what drove Kali to the point of destroying herself and the lives of those around her. Unfortunately, the ending did leave a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, as I had envisioned a final reveal or revelation, drawing all of the plot points together, but none of this really happened. The ending does work, but left me with too many unanswered questions, which was frustrating.
The gameplay is almost a Tron (1982) lookalike of Gone Home (2013) as it involves the exploration of areas in a digital environment, in order to gain information about what has happened in the past.There is a psychological horror vibe, which stems from the dark colour pallet and the limited music. The player constantly feels on edge as Kali can glitch in and out of existence, accompanied by a giggle, and you will often have to fight for your life.
Many of the stages involve puzzles that must be solved in order to progress and the end of each stage is often accompanied with a platforming section. These sections felt like they had been added in order to give more ‘game elements’ to Master Reboot and didn’t really match the pacing of the story, in fact they never really added to the story at all, and felt separate and alienated. It perhaps would have been better to have stuck more to the explorative puzzle elements that matched the narrative.
The graphics themselves were a bit hit or miss. Certain places or elements were beautifully artistic and gave a good sense of being slightly an off-real digitalised memory, and the creepy Kali with her soulless purple eyes became haunting. Other elements felt blocky and very unrealistic. In places the world just felt empty.
While playing the game, I very much enjoyed Master Reboot and found the story to pull me through any questionable parts of the graphics or gameplay. Unfortunately, the conclusion of the story didn’t quite come together for me. It was so close, it was just not the impact I felt the game deserved. Indeed I get the strong feeling that the game would have been more solid if it had ditched the platform elements and concentrated on making it an explorative psychological horror. A bigger focus on the characters and story would have made for a much bigger impact. Perhaps Wales Interactive’s reboot of the game entitled Soul Axiom (2015) will successfully iron out the previous problems and produce consistent intense atmosphere and gameplay.
Master Reboot – Wales Interactive