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The Occupation - Fixed-time, investigative thriller


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#1 Carnage

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 02:42 PM

This game looks quite interesting. It combines stealth with investigations. You have a fixed-time of four hours to complete your investigation. The reviews on steam aren't very positive, which mainly is because of the bugs it still has, but most of the people are very positive about the mechanics (when they work as intended). For a four hour game I also find it a bit too expensive, so it's maybe best to wait for a steam sale. Here's a short video that explains the game:

 

 

Edit: The game has already been released, but because of potential spoilers I added an older video.


Edited by Carnage, 08 March 2019 - 05:44 PM.

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#2 chakkman

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 04:08 PM

Now that's the kind of games i would want to see from the big studios, fresh innovative and original stuff. Instead they make brainless action entertainment for the masses. Looks very nice. Although i can't judge how well this kind of gameplay works. I would imagine it's hard in the beginning to figure out what the game lets you do and what not. But, as it seems like it's made for multiple approaches, i guess that's part of the game. :)


Edited by chakkman, 08 March 2019 - 04:09 PM.


#3 Judith

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 04:35 PM

Early reviews say that there are many bugs in the base game, but comments say that devs are in the process of fixing them. It'll probably wait a month or two before purchase, so the game gets polished a bit more.



#4 Carnage

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 04:42 PM

I would imagine it's hard in the beginning to figure out what the game lets you do and what not.

Yeah that's one thing that was mentioned in a negative review. It doesn't explain a lot, and as you have a fixed-time, you could potentially miss stuff. IMO it does give it potential replay value and isn't that how real life works as well :D. Most of the current generation of 'kids' seem to like games that hold their hand, so I kinda read those sort of reviews with a pinch of salt.

 

Also something that could be a potential no for some people is the save system. It only saves after a 'chapter' is finished and as these can take up to an hour to complete, it could lead to frustration. Especially if the game crashes due to a bug or when real life calls. But like Judith said, the devs are working on patches.



#5 Fidcal

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 05:14 PM

I'm very impressed. I think I'd buy this even on what I've seen so far. Not sure about gameplay but I'd like to explore. I love fiction and story but in most games I've found complex readables drag the action down (probably guilty of that myself!) so let's hope this is crafted well enough to avoid that.

 

The Unreal Engine graphics look dated compared to modern games, most especially the NPCs,  but that's not a deal breaker. It's all about gameplay and freedom to move about in an open world. Leaning round corners! You just gotta buy a game where you can lean round corners! I didn't see any light gem equivalent so we don't know if shadow plays a part.

 

What was not clear to me was if the 4-hour 'mission' is a one-off or if you could play it in enough different ways that different stories emerge. Even if that was fixed at say 10 stories, it would add such a lot. Or at least sufficient variety of the same story as to feel quite different. Fallout 4 was only partly like that but there were sufficient differences that I played it right through to the four ending plus another one of my own invention. But Imagine a game like this one with unlimited stories randomised by the game - like a massively complex equivalent of Cluedo with randomised characters some who might be villains, some heroes and heroines, others in-between! But I'm getting carried away now.

 

First person. Wonder if there is any climbing? I'm guessing killing or knockouts are not allowed for this player character. That's rare for any game if so.

 

I applaud the attempt at something different. I'll keep watch for its release... 

 

 

[EDIT- Oh, wait! I didn't realise it's already out. I might download this tonight...]

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#6 chakkman

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 05:18 PM

The Unreal Engine graphics look dated compared to modern games, most especially the NPCs,  but that's not a deal breaker. 

 

Not an issue with the engine though, just the amount of detail the devs decided to pack into the game. If you take a look at their former games, they look much worse even.


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#7 Carnage

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 05:29 PM

[EDIT- Oh, wait! I didn't realise it's already out. I might download this tonight...]

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If you do, please share your thoughts. If I read a review correctly, it is possible that you miss important information, like from a computer. But I don't how much this will affect the story itself. Movement is pretty restricted, no climbing, jumping off ledges and that sort of stuff.



#8 Fidcal

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 07:12 PM

OK, now downloading.... Cost me about £25 from the PS4 store. But bloody Sony started downloading about 3 or 4 other trash things first without asking! I estimated it would be downloaded by midnight. Went back to my PC, returned about ten to midnight. Then I realised it was downloading updates for Red Dead Redemption 2, Fallout 4, and another - all of which I've finished playing ages ago! AND I've got auto-downloads set to OFF! Bloody Sony. I mean, it appeared to have put the new game I'm waiting for last in the queue!

 

The download estimate was 3 hours - but I don't believe it. I estimate 90 minutes tops from just before midnight so I'll stop up late. 12GB. Just hope there isn't an update for that after it's downloaded!

 

I'll post my views tomorrow probably...



#9 Fidcal

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 09:26 PM

Played for 15 minutes to get the feel of it. Graphics better than I thought. Movement good. Climbing appears limited to selected points. Not got 'lean' to work yet. No idea what to do other than search around. No info. No objectives immediate or longterm. No game saves as far as I can see.  I suspect that something showed automatically after it downloaded because it was at the start menu of the game when I turned back to the PS4. Seems daft. Did they expect players would sit for 2 or 3 hours waiting to interact the moment it began? Anyway, I'll restart the whole thing in the morning to see if it indicates what the player is supposed to be doing. I mean, yes, I gather I'm an investigative reporter and there was some sort of terrorist event but apart from that, why am I at the start location? 2.25am Too tired now....



#10 Fidcal

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Posted 09 March 2019 - 05:06 AM

Closed the game and restarted from scratch this morning but found I hadn't missed anything at the start - there really is very little info. There's a scene with an argument but no context. In fact, that defines everything I've seen so far - no context. From within the game I don't know who or what I am or why I am doing anything. So the game is of the type which I call a game of blunders. By that I mean I learned some time ago in this type of game it's not worth trying to understand - just click everything and keep trying to blunder forward blindly. Compare that to Thief and Dark Mod where you pretty much know what your ultimate objectives are; the challenge is how to accomplish them.

 

So, as I progress I discover that some handwritten notes on a large memo I've got apparently my own handwriting - notes I'm writing as I go along. Later I discover that the building I've entered into through a window is not some unknown enemy's lair but is where I work myself! This is blind blundering and for me breaks a major rule of video games: nothing should be harder than it would be in real life and nothing should be unknown that you'd expect to know in real life. Like how can this character I'm playing not even know who she is or why she's there or what she's supposed to be doing except as she goes along? I didn't even know I was the woman in the argument scene until I'd been playing for a few minutes.

 

None of this may bother some players like it does me but if it does bug you, the way to play is, as said, to resign to click stuff and blunder on and let it unfold. But it lacks feeling because I don't feel desperate or scared or anything really because it's all just an abstract void.

 

That said, the presentation and game movement is not bad. Leaning needs two keys/buttons which is why I never found it at first: it's one shift-type plus the move left right (and I think forward but forget to check that again.)

 

I think the only game saves are probably check points.

 

Forget climbing as we know it in Thief and Dark Mod - it's special-point climbing like onto a window ledge or over a desk. You can't climb over any desk except one special desk sort of thing.

 

Stealth includes crouch but my first experience of any interaction with an enemy was an alarm that I think now is bound to be triggered. I was trapped in an office. The guard had a torch. I hid behind a partition. He came in and eventually went out but it's all glass partitioned offices. I had nowhere to go except out past him which seemed impossible. At his furthest distance I quietly opened the door which immediately alerted him. I back away and hid again. No solution that I could see. I eventually just walked out and he simply took me to the security head who had me evicted. So the so-called stealth seemed choreographed (even though there was a 'quest' to escape the building. Dunno if anyone got out without being seen or even if it matters.)

 

Mixed feelings then. There is enough interest to keep me going for now but no passionate involvement yet, if ever. Sheesh... when I recall how excited I was when I first played Thief! Maybe I'm just getting old.

 

Textures are moderate to poor. Dark Mod bookshelves are vastly better - the books spines in this bland and blank without even a blurred title! Oh well, maybe the developers don't have the time and resources and dedication of Dark Mod developers - but it shows. Seriously, the graphics are not a big issue with me; gameplay is king - but here it's more... queenish.


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#11 Carnage

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Posted 09 March 2019 - 09:30 AM

Thank you for your indept thoughts Fidcal. I watched a gameplay video of the prologue mission you are talking about and largely agree with the things you describe.

 

- I think the reason why you are sneaking into the building you work, is because you are trying to leak information and if people would see you, you would be one of the prime suspects.

- In the video I saw, some tips where given about opening your notes which has an objective and clues are given based on notes you find or conversations that you listen to, so it does seem to guide you a little.

- The story is being narrated based on something that has happened, so while I do agree it can be confusing sometimes, I did understand the person you are playing was the woman after the first narration.

- What are your thoughts about the multiple entry points? For example the different ways you can enter the office in the prologue mission?

- Saves only occur after finishing a chapter, but the devs are talking about maybe adding a save on exit option.



#12 Fidcal

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Posted 09 March 2019 - 01:39 PM

It's good to have more than one route - in fact I suspect you might be able to do a lot of that. I failed virtually all the objectives in the next section yet still came out to continue. More story is emerging but it still feels disjointed, unconnected, like pieces of a jigsaw. Now I know solving a mystery is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle but here I got no overview, no backbone story onto which to fit the pieces - so they remain scattered. In the next session I discovered after a minute or two that now I was a man! No rhyme nor reason that I'd changed characters did I detect. The overall concept of this game is good but they're not very good at conveying the story intelligibly and with clarity.

 

Anyway, I later changed back to the woman in a bombed out building for some reason. How I got in there or why I don't know. I had an early impression from what I remember of the first argument that her kids were either missing or dead yet she bemoans someone else (presumably an ex-lover/husband?) with never a thought of the kids. I'm stuck in this building. Been literally round and round in circles but can't see a way forward. Keep coming back to the same safety helmet! I've had to undo two clamps which were helping to hold the building together so maybe the whole thing will collapse if I can find the right trigger.

 

Yeah, I did find some interactive tabs and in the notes. Maybe they'd always been there! Never occurred to me to move a cursor over a readable and click it! Which reminds me, there's a cursor you can move when looking at the watch but I can't see any purpose to it. Maybe it's just sharing the same routine as the pager where you can use the cursor to control it.



#13 Carnage

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Posted 09 March 2019 - 07:35 PM

I had an early impression from what I remember of the first argument that her kids were either missing or dead yet she bemoans someone else (presumably an ex-lover/husband?).

 

The overall concept of this game is good but they're not very good at conveying the story intelligibly and with clarity.

 

Now I know solving a mystery is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle but here I got no overview, no backbone story onto which to fit the pieces

As far as I know there is just the husband, Michael (who also was her co-worker). He got killed I think in the bombing. The same bombing at the end of the prologue, so that probably explains why the woman is at the location later on.

 

I found the switch also pretty abrupt yes. A little explanation would have certainly helped there.

 

Did you read all the readables? Most of the story is explained in them and they usually contain some hints as well about where to go next. I'm not a big fan of sharing the story or important information in readables that you can miss though. Exactly for the same reason that you feel the story is disjointed.

 

Now the important question though. Would you recommend it based on your experience and when knowing the shortcomings of the game?


Edited by Carnage, 09 March 2019 - 07:36 PM.


#14 Fidcal

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Posted 10 March 2019 - 07:21 AM

I reserve judgment on recommending it until I've seen more. I definitely wouldn't want to put anyone off trying it. I look regularly at the main readable (can't remember what it's called but it's like a big empty memo with handwriting on top some of which I've recently discovered is clickable - plus there are side tabs I only just noticed. Still not sure I'm seeing all the info. And, of course, when I'm the woman I don't get any of that.

 

All this game probably needs is a proper introduction (I never saw one at all and I started it twice) plus a major overview page that the player can refer to briefly describing, the big picture, main quests, and characters - probably also give more when starting new chapters as to who we are and why. The game relies on the player memorising disjointed snippets of info too much. The storytelling needs improving so everything is clear, has real purpose, and we can sympathise with character feelings. It could be brilliant by adding less than 1%.

 

This is why I withhold judgement. As the story unfolds maybe I'll 'get it' and then I might decide on the excellence of the game. It's definitely playable and interesting.

 

I just viewed the video again because it gives a little more than I get from playing! It confirms there's an investigative reporter (wondered where I'd got that from!) but who? I'm assuming it's this novelist Miller. Maybe he's researching for a book. The woman... sometimes I think she's just a flashback memory from someone Miller interviews... dunno. About the kids - there were definitely toys in one scene and I thought they'd belonged to her kids.

 

I'm just going back in for a short session to figure out this bombed building thing with the pneumatic tube system... :)

 

 



#15 Fidcal

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Posted 10 March 2019 - 08:04 AM

Okay, I figured out the pneumatic thing - I had the switches set wrong. But now, this is the perfect example of what I've been saying. I'm Scarlet. I don't know precisely why I got into this building other than a vague idea of finding info maybe? I have zero readables except for a password I apparently wrote on my hand. I remember getting that password but I'm sure I used it before. Anyway, I used it and get the cartridge. For reasons unknown the magnetic door opens so I can exit. But what is the cartridge? Why does she want it? I can't examine it. I'm blundering through the motions blindly because that's all I can do. Possibly she referred to this in her self-mutterings previously but there was a lot of her murmuring and I can't recall anything signficant. The control for the briefcase doesn't work. Maybe it's Miller who has the case? Which reminds me, I saw a suitcase but couldn't reach it. I go down steps and all fades to black. The black fades up into the next chapter and I'm still on the stairs ready to continue. But wait! I'm the guy now! Maybe Scarlet really is Miller? Or Miller is Scarlet in drag? I think I've figured it all out now. Michael found out I was really a guy and killed himself by blowing up the building? :D



#16 Fidcal

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 12:28 PM

Sadly I've reached my limit with this game. I've been trapped in a building for the last hour and there is no further enjoyment. There is no 'quest' listed in the brochure that I need to do - well, there are quests listed which I think I've done but they don't tick off so I can't be certain. Possibly the 'supposed' quest is to escape the building but I can't be sure of that either - nor can I find any area I've not been in before 20 or 30 times or more.

 

I can't recommend this game to the average player, nor to the stealth player. I did not have a single experience of good stealth where I achieved an objective by satisfying stealth. I did however, get busted many times without knowing why. Currently I was given a torch which I cannot turn off so stealth is meaningless. I did try walking round with my wristwatch raised up to cancel the light but in the end I felt wtf, stood up, and walked boldly around accepting that I was lit up like a Christmas tree.

 

So it's not stealth as we know it nor is it open-world - not like Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 4, Dying Light, and so on. No, it's a linear, corridor game but where the path you must follow is wide in places so you can wander 'sideways' quite a bit. Ultimately you have to continue the way decided for you.

 

 I never understood the 'four-hour' thing because I played far longer than that without a single game reload. It was never an issue. Time never ran out for me. I took little notice of the time except to meet appointments.

 

The game type has great potential and, as I've said, only needs proper difficulty levels where on the easiest level the player can have: a dynamic sketch map that fills in as the player character reaches different areas, a compass to go with it so you don't keep going round in circles like I did (then I could have given up earlier!), a proper list of story events, characters, and quests. By 'quests' I mean, it should always tell you what you need to do and why - then check them off when accomplished. Too many mysteries in this game that are not anything to do with solving a crime but to do with game management - like a whodunnit novel with missing paragraphs and pages (and the pages won't turn until you blindly guess something.)

 

There is a lot of interesting stuff though so it's not all bad. Maybe wait until you can pick it up cheap for £5 or £10? I remember buying Oblivion for £12 and that was amazing value. :)

 

 

 



#17 Carnage

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 10:36 AM

Thanks for your indept review and thoughts Fidcal. Seems that quite a bit is still missing to make this a really complete and enjoyable game, which probably explains the mixed reviews as well. I'll wait for a sale to see if the price has dropped enough.






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