- + Super voice acting, set to an incredibly funny and witty script.
- + Fun stealth-orientated gameplay
- + Unique art direction
- Nothing to report
Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…
*Volume was provided to Start Replay on PS4 by Bithell Games
I stick to the walls like tree sap, hugging the colourful digital blocks that guide me through a maze of tight corridors. Dotted around me are a string of white gems, and once I’ve collected them, my exit will open and I’ll be able to escape. There’s only one thing stopping me: a soldier on patrol, scanning for me with his wide range of vision. My artificially intelligent buddy, Allen, cracks few jokes and gives me advice on how to proceed.
I whistle to distract the guard and he turns his back, whilst I run in a crouched position to my now-white, beaming exit. I’ve finished on a personal best, but there are still people on the online leaderboard that are way better than me.
This is Volume and it brings stealth back to the basics in a simple, fun and humorous way.
As petty thief Robert Locksley, you must take control of a device named “Volume” and simulate heists involved in a secret military coup. Based on a near-future reimagining of the Robin Hood legend, you must use stealth and gadgets to navigate environments without being detected, streaming the events across the internet and making the coup known to the world. The head of the company that owns Volume is Guy Gisborne, of Gisborne industries. His intentions may seem well-placed, but his grip over England via his corporate role has lead the country into dismay. Robert aims to show the public his true colours.
With a top-down perspective, you’re given a clean and uninterrupted view of your surroundings. It’s incredibly similar to the VR missions found in the original Metal Gear Solid, and creator Mike Bithell doesn’t hide the fact he’s taken inspiration from the series.
At its core, Volume sets you the task of nailing each level with a different technique. A plethora of gadgets await you, all of which will help distract the enemy or keep you invisible from their attention. Using an item called the “bugle”, for example, will allow you to direct a spiral of sound to a certain location, before detonating it strategically to place the enemies’ focus elsewhere.
As you complete more of the campaign, new threats will arise and the challenge to circumvent them will prove to be far more difficult. Having simple patrol bots will make for an easy time, whereas dogs will alert enemies to your whereabouts, and archers encompass a long range of vision. It’s all swings and roundabouts, and it’s up to you to figure out the best approach in each maze.
There will be a built-in par time to compete against, but should you want to better yourself even more, online leaderboards will give you even tougher times to beat. Move beyond the standard set of levels and you’ll find an extensive level creator at your disposal. You’ll be able to create any layout, complete with enemy patrols and what colour you’d like your environment to be. Personally I don’t have the time to partake in such a thing, but I look forward to the many masterpieces its community will undoubtedly create.
Aesthetically, Volume is a mishmash of blacks brought together by soothing colour palettes and futuristic design. Since everything is represented in the digital realm, it allows for a unique visual flare. Make a noise by whistling near scenery and all the items will expand into shards, before contracting back to their original shape. The art direction of this title is mesmerising to say the least.
Bithell’s first game featured superb voice acting, which brought character and charm to an otherwise simple adventure; it was what made it so great. In Volume it’s the same affair, but not only do you have more than one voice, Andy Serkis from Lord of the Rings fame is also onboard. Joining Rob on his journey is an artificial intelligence by the name of Allen, and thanks to the superb script and witty writing, every word of dialogue was a joy to my ears.
Having voice acting at such a high level has mean’t that Volume encompasses a real sense of character, without needing to provide convoluted gameplay. The dull and simple tones of Rob will really help you relate to him being such an average character, no one special, just another ordinary guy trying to do something right.
The simple nature of Volume’s gameplay, coupled with superb voice acting and an engaging script, has allowed this game to become an instant classic. Honing your skills is fun, and the added ability to craft your own myriad of levels is a daunting but welcome feature.