Flashback (2013) Review

All we need now is some Vangelis...

  • Developer: VectorCell
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Release Date: 2 October 2013
  • Time played: 6 hours

I never played the original Flashback so when I saw there was a re-imagined successor to the game I thought I'd give it a whirl. I was a fan of Another World (also called "Out of this World" by you crazy Yanks) you see, and Flashback shared two things in common with this game:

  1. They were both developed by Delphine Software
  2. They were both cinematic platformers that employed rotoscoping for animations

Fans of the original will be pleased to note that you can actually play the original Flashback in this game but sadly, you'll have to put up with an annoyingly small virtual arcade cabinet in order to play it. Why couldn't they just give you the original Flashback in fullscreen (even if it were still at a low resolution)? Things that make you go hmmm...

So take note, I'm playing from the perspective of someone who has never played the original which usually means I will be more forgiving of the game's differences to the original (since I don't know what those differences are). In other words, I'm reviewing Flashback 2013 for what it is: a 2013 platformer.

Plot (3/5)
You play the role of a man named Conrad B. Hart who is suffering from amnesia. At the beginning of the game you escape some cyborgs while riding a jetbike but unfortunately end up crashing in a jungle on the planet Titan. You eventually discover fragments of memory as you progress through the game and the more you learn about your past, the more you discover how bleak the future is for mankind.

So it's your typical pulp science fiction fare where you have to save the known universe with laser gun in hand. There are, however, quite a few plot holes and the plot seems to travel at a breakneck pace. Sometimes the reasons for doing certain quests seem superficial since they definitely don't seem logical. No matter, Conrad obediently agrees doing the tasks anyway, whether you like it or not. Suffice to say, this is one story I'll likely soon forget.

Gameplay (3/5)
This is your typical platformer where you're able to run around the world and climb or fall off platforms. You're also able to use a gun to dispatch enemies, destroy some obstacles or trigger certain devices. Later on you're able to use a teleporter in order to get around and using the teleporter in order to reach certain areas is actually one of the more satisfying parts of the game. Combat is generally straight forward but can become a bit tedious for later enemies when you have to employ the "Fable tactic" in order to defeat your enemies. What do I mean by "Fable tactic"? Well, when I played the original Fable, I recall that combat would often involve rolling around the ground to dodge enemy attacks 90% of the time, with only 10% spent on actually attacking the enemy. It's a similar affair in this later on which can get a bit tedious.

Sound (2/5)
The game is unfortunately plagued with poor voice acting coupled with lame scripts. This means you'll often hear the emphasis placed on wrong words and the uttering of some really stupid words like "awesome-sauce". Surely you can't be serious?

(I am serious and stop calling me Shirley).

Music (3/5)
The game doesn't have any particularly memorable music and it doesn't play most of the time - usually only during action sequences.

Graphics (4/5)
If there's one thing good to be said about Flashback it would have to be the graphics. They're some of the best I've seen in a platformer and are actually good enough to be used during the game's cutscenes. I particularly like the cyberpunk city backdrops you get to visit later on in the game.

Replay (2/5)
I finished the game once and took me about 6 hours to complete. There isn't much incentive to go play the game again unless you want to try and get more UPlay achievements.

Polish (4/5)
Generally the game seems rather well polished except for the fact you have to play through a second level of DRM, namely UPlay - however this is a problem with all Ubisoft games not just this one.

Score – 6/10

If you don't mind setting up a UPlay account and playing through two levels of DRM, Flashback is not a bad platformer. The game has good graphics and some entertaining segments but a meaningless plot, hammy voice acting and an unlikeable protagonist. To me, this means it'll never be anything more than an "okay" game.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

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[ LINK: Official Flashback website]