Editor’s Note: A while back, we published this review of Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space on the German version of DLH.Net. It has been reproduced for our English-speaking readers in order to mark the game’s Jan. 20th release on Xbox One and PS4.
Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space promises up to eight hours of “intricate puzzles”, an “advanced physics engine”, and “stunning 3D environments”. Keep reading to see if the game actually manages to live up to its claims.
Research in time and spaceYou play as John T. Longy, a night watchman at the secret “Jupiter” research facility, where scientists have been conducting experiments with time, space, and a whole lot more. On August 12th, 2063, you start your shift at 6:33 pm, after everyone else has gone home for the evening. You were out late drinking last night, and today you don’t feel so hot; but whatever, it’s not like there’s anyone there to call you out anyway.
You’re about do your rounds when a sudden explosion knocks you to the floor. Shortly after that, there’s another explosion, and you fall through the floor into the basement. When you come to your senses, you hear something strange outside the door – something’s trying to get in, but doesn’t seem to be able to. You’re going to have to find some kind of weapon quickly, or at least make a trap or something, if you want to stay alive. Once you’ve done so, that’s when you begin your fight for survival as you struggle to make it out of the facility alive.
Unfortunately, there’s not really enough plot or backstory in the game overall, since you’re going to be spending most of your time trying to solves puzzles. Sometimes you just really get the feeling that they could have put just a little more effort into creating a memorable story here.
20 rooms to explore, with some pretty tough puzzlesEach of the 20 rooms you enter in the course of the game has you solving puzzles, some of which are relatively easy, others actually pretty hard. At the beginning, for example, you have to use the parts you find around the storage room to construct a trap for the creature trying to get in. If you use your head a little, this one’s pretty easy. Later in the game you have to figure out an access code having been given no clues whatsoever. Another puzzle gets you to switch out a battery, which sounds easy but turns out to be pretty hard unless you’ve really scoped out the area and know where things are.
The puzzles are in any event really well thought out, sometimes really challenging even, but I was able to solve all of them eventually – just the kind of stuff a good puzzle game is made of. If you ever do get stuck, however, you can press the Tab key to see all the objects in the room that you can interact with. Depending on how long it takes you to solve certain puzzles, Albedo should take about five to eight hours to finish.
The developer also seems to be proud of the game’s physics system, which I found to be quite all right; or at least, I didn’t come across anything negative while playing the game – it works. It’s also pretty realistic when you say, throw a brick, hold a garden hose, or turn a faucet on or off.
Control issuesUnfortunately, due to a number of issues I wasn't really so keen on the controls. You use the mouse wheel to scroll through your interaction options or your inventory, making selections with the left mouse button. So far so good. But if you need to switch back and forth between objects quickly, it can be really difficult to pick the right one. Things can also get really complicated when you try to combine several different objects together.
Science fiction, double featureNow let’s talk about the visual aspects of Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space. The developer’s stated goal was to create a game that looked and felt like the sci-fi B-movies of the 1960s, and they’ve nailed it. There’s a “retro-future” air to the whole thing, and an overall visual style that’s dark, but still contains some strong hues in its color palette.
Voiceovers are in English, with subtitles in other languages including German, Italian, Polish, Russian, French, and Brazilian Portuguese (Spanish is interface only). There isn’t a whole lot of speaking anyway, though what you do hear sounds like it was recorded in a big, empty room. You get used to it, though. There’s no background music, but there are lots of different background noises that crop up here and there, such as beeping computers and the like.