Title: Halfway
Platform: Steam, Humble Store, DRM-Free, Windows, Mac, Linux

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Tactical RPG, Strategy
Players: Single player


Written by Whistler 2nd Septmeber 2014













Thankfully these days we’ve seen the genre of tile-based action RPG’s coming back with a righteous fury with amazing titles like Xenonauts, Wasteland 2, and of course Divinity: Original Sin.

So I was pleased to see that the influx of titles adding to the genre was not halting anytime soon with Robotality’s fourth game, Halfway (also points for possibly the best sounding dev team ever).


Halfway, if you couldn’t guess from the introductory paragraph, is a turn-based strategic RPG which sees you command a squad of up to four members as you explore the colonial vessel, Goliath.

In the future humanity has begun to colonise other planets with the aid of FTL drive that allows for almost instant interstellar space travel (wait a minute, this sounds familiar), however slowly vessels have been vanishing without a trace.
Of course ignoring these phenomenon, the gigantic space vessel, Goliath, sets off on a routine mission and the story’s shenanigans are set in motion.

We open with Morten Lannis, one of the Goliath’s security personnel where he awakes to find all is not as it seems; finding the spacecraft’s contents trashed we discover that the Goliath is now overrun with Morten’s former crewmembers turned into hyper-jumping evil cyborgs and we all know the cure for that one.


























So grab a shotgun and let’s have at it;

before that though I must say the atmosphere laid out in Halfway is superb, from the dimly lit lighting to the melancholic backdrops that tell a tale on their own.

Hallways are littered with shell casings, crates and furniture have been made as temporary garrisons and walls are riddled with bullet holes from skirmishes long since passed that sink in the grim tone and possible misfortune awaiting our survivors. There’s also some solemn yet powerful scenes where in between missions your motley crew of survivors hold up in several makeshift defences, here is where you go about restocking and such but you can have some touching dialogue with your comrades and learn some backstory too. While these are nice ways to add more depth to the story they often did feel like they split up the action a bit too much in my opinion.

Robotality nailed the atmos with this title, from the environments, the writing and musical score it just sets the mood perfectly, sadly, the gameplay doesn’t quite compliment these elements.


Each mission is consists of basically eliminate all X, loot whatever you can find and progress.

Combat is incredibly underwhelming in my opinion; when we have some spectacular recent additions to the genre like Xenonauts and XCOM that while both of those have different methodologies towards the theme, Halfway takes the simplicity from XCOM, simplifies it even further and cuts out almost everything to enhance the gameplay. After three hours of gameplay nothing much differs from the first mission, every character has two action points where you will almost every time use for either move>shoot, shoot>move or shoot>shoot; combat is incredibly sluggish and does nothing to hide the repetition.

Characters are pretty much defined by whatever weapon you hand them and the one rather forgetful active skill along with a passive. While you face tougher enemies there are little variations that only slam home how much of a dull slug combat quickly becomes; I love turn based rpg’s especially ones that have a great atmos and story along with it, I just couldn’t enjoy Halfway in its entirety.



























Sadly the tone does loose its teeth even if the combat does occasionally ramp up the difficulty as death poses no consequences, at no point while I did begin to like my squad mates I felt nothing when they fainted in a fight which in turn removed any of the tension the combat could have held.

I really did want to enjoy Halfway, I loved the atmosphere, the story and the visuals that combined a pixelated style with a dark grim sci-fi feel seen in the likes of Dead Space and Doom 3.

But the combat, which is effectively the 2nd half of the formula that makes up Halfway, is bland, stupidly simplistic and turns stale too quickly then doesn’t try at all to mask the repetitive nature.

The atmosphere and story are top notch and maybe that will keep you invested in Halfway but with other turn based RPGs this year exceeding in their field I just find myself underwhelmed with Robotality’s addition but I do hope to see more from them and just hope they add more depth to gameplay along with their excellent atmosphere.



Pros:    

Amazing atmosphere,

Excellent visuals,

Solid tone.

   

Cons:   

Under whelming gameplay,

Repetitive combat,

No consequences with death.


Final verdict,

Halfway nails some elements but only manages halfway overall with a score of 5/10.


Written by,

Whistler


















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