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Plain Sight Review

Plain Sight

Publisher: Beatnik Games
Platform: PC
UK Price (as reviewed): £7.99 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $9.99 (excl. Tax)

All last week we were writing (and talking!) about the UK games industry as part of Made in the UK Week and, we’ll admit, things might have been a little bit depressing. We were mainly focused on how things used to be and what could have been, slightly neglecting what UK indie outfits like Beatnik Games are up to right now.

Yet Beatnik’s new game, Plain Sight, manages to perfectly embody all the hallmarks of the UK games industry that we’ve been harping on about recently. It’s simple, sarcastic and in possession of a sense of humour so warped that it’s only going to be really useful to carpenters in Derbyshire.

Unlike other indie efforts in a similarly retro mould though, Plain Sight mixes things up with a far more modern look – one stuffed with nods to contemporary trends and little in-jokes.

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Thus, it’s a game about hyperactive suicidal ninja robots. Think: Douglas Adam’s Marvin the Android but with a big sword and a lot more gusto.

Actually, that’s not entirely accurate – Plain Sight may star ninja robots, but it’s not really about them. It isn’t really about anything, or at least anything more than blowing yourself up to score points. There’s no story, no plot, nothing except pure, unadulterated gameplay. The empty spaces where dialogue and cutscenes would usually go are compensated for with colourful lights, frequent explosions and frenzied hammering of the keyboard - and it's that no-nonsense, back to basics approach which helps make this gamet so engaging and interesting when you first pick it up.

The actual structure of Plain Sight’s core mode is incredibly simple; you are a robot and you have to battle other tiny androids to accrue energy, which makes you bigger, brighter and faster. Taking energy from foes requires you to charge into them as powerfully as you can, sword held high, but energy only gets transformed into actual points when you blow yourself up – which brings a nice risk/reward strategy to the title. If you've toppled two enemies already then do you choose to explode now for a certain two points or continue battling and risk losing it all if you’re defeated unexpectedly? Do you try to catch as many enemies as possible in your explosion to get a multiplier, or detonate away from the others in a 'safe' explosion that'll net you the bare minimum?

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Again though, that’s not totally true and ‘strategy’ is probably the wrong word to use – Plain Sight is just too fast-paced for there to be any actual thinking or planning going on. Everything is left to instinct; a side effect of the blistering speed that matches unfold at. If you’ve got the time to actually weigh your decisions then you’re probably not playing it properly, because you shouldn't ever be standing still. That, or you’ve got a brain the size of South Wales.

It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that Plain Sight is almost exclusively a multiplayer game too. There’s an offline practice mode, but that’s it as far as the singleplayer goes – there’s no campaign or offline championship option. The absence of any truly meaty bot-battling mode is admittedly a trifle disappointing, but it's also thoroughly expected given the low price-point and style of gameplay.

It shouldn’t need to be spelled out that Plain Sight doesn’t cater much to story or singleplayer minded audiences. It’s intended purely for people who want a quick burst of multiplayer platforming and action.