Volume – Review (PS4, PS Vita, Steam )
One of the most accepted and divisive theories in science is the Big Bang Theory. As you likely have learned in science class, the theory states that the Big Bang was an unfathomably vast explosion that created the universe itself. Every galaxy, every star, and the quintillions of planets that orbit those stars can all be traced back into a single moment when nothingness became existence.
However, it can be argued that humans created another Big Bang, and that was the computer, which gave rise to an entire frontier of digital information. While the very first computers were used for war and space exploration, they paved the way for today’s computers to provide things we absolutely cannot live without.
Social media, wifi, the cloud, apps, have all transformed the way we live and function as a society. These tools have been used to build businesses, protect the environment, perform charitable deeds, and preserve history. It’s quite astounding to see how far we have come, and continue to go, with computers and the internet. But, for every positive use of technology, there are always those that will use these wonderful tools for nefarious purposes and personal gain.
Terrorism, extortion, fake news, breaching of privacy and personal security, are some of the exploitations of this new frontier. Though for every unjustifiable action, there are always those who rise and fight back.
This is the world of Volume from legendary designer Mike Bithell, creator of games such as Subsurface Circular and Thomas Was Alone. Mike moves on from the simple platformer of friendship and shapes into a dystopic world of information and suppression of human rights. VOlume is a relevant, futuristic tale of the Robin hood character we all aspire to be.
In the near future, Great Britain is under an Orwellian rule. Freedoms and information are monitored and suppressed. There is a sense of democracy and freedom but only for those that respect and obey its leaders, supporting their pursuits of a military-focused economy. The rich and the wealthy has prospered off of the chaos of war. Combat robots and artificial intelligence have become the new tools to which unnecessary wars are fought, and the people behind these weapons prosper off of the destruction.
For Will, enough is enough.
He yearns to fight back against those that commit these acts of injustice. However, he is just a young man. There is no resistance. There is no opposing army. And any visible oppositions is quickly dealt with by the unlawful overreaches of the government police. His battle will be waged in the depths of cyberspace, through holographic simulations, called volumes.
Will is no soldier. He has never served or fought in any military. But he is skilled in the use of computers and volume simulations. He can craft special tools and create special advantages in the volume. His ultimate goal is to sneak within the volume, retrieve data, and escape without detection.
Volume plays as a stealth-action game, where players will have to avoid traps and evade detection. Over the course of 100 levels, players will have to use their wits, intelligence and agility to avoid being caught. Each level is filled with ways to make noise, trigger alarms, or fall right into the parking of a patrolling combat robot. Players will be given tools that can paralyze the enemy, create noise distraction or disguise will.
Volume is a celebration of both the classic Robin Hood character and the stealth-action genre. Robin Hood was a resistance fighter who lived by the notion of robbing the rich to give back to the poor. It’s a debatable notion as one could dispute the fact that in order to fight the oppressors, Robin had to break rules and become an outlaw.
Will underscores this.
As players fight their way through the game players will experience Will’s rise to influence and the questioning of his pursuits of justice. The villain, in particular, portrayed by Andy Serkis, will get under Will’s skin with his bold, growly voice and firm demeanor. Without giving anything away, the story is quite bold and interesting filled with strong questions of information and freedom with just the right amount of levity.
As a stealth-action game, Volume nails the rewarding feeling of sneaking around, procuring a target, and escaping undetected. Will sneaks around levels, and players can use corners and walls.
Players will have to memorize patterns and use their tool wisely to distract and bypass the strongest of security. Volume takes place within a polygonal world, with bright colors and clearly distinct areas. Players will also have to find keys to open doors and avoid traps. The enemies are plentiful, with armed soldiers, robotic canines, laser alarms, and cameras. Each level is completely different from the next, keeping players on their toes. The mechanics harken and nod to Hideo Kojima’s NES masterpiece, Metal Gear, which introduced the stealth-action genre to gamers in 1988.
Further immersing the player is the sharp animation and visual style of the levels. As the game adopts a polygonal style for the volume sages, the colors and shapes work well to give players that sensation of being in inside a digital simulation. What will keep players hooked into the experience is the game’s soundtrack by David J Housden.
The music uses a sweeping orchestra, vocalizations, and choirs to strike a grey spot in the setting of Volume. There is the calm, cool, swift calculation of sneaking around the level, with small vocalization and ambient noises. When players are detected, a roaring choir erupts to life to heighten the sensation of danger, as well urgently carry the player to safety. Volume evokes a stellar presentation and a soundtrack worth listening to repeatedly, whether you are doing homework or feel rebellious in your day.
Volume is a triumph and a celebration. It is more than a game but an experience with a relevant message. It’s stealth mechanics are vibrant, the gameplay is incredibly polished, the visual style is striking, and the story sends an important message in today’s climate. Volume is an unforgettable adventure in freedom and identity. Don’t miss it!