“Flashback is an ambitious regeneration of a definitive classic, but one which doesn’t quite live up to expectations.”
Flashback is another new title joining the ranks of the vast library of modern takes on cult classics and genre-defining video games that have become a common-place movement amongst developers who wish to give something back to their dedicated fans. As always, this is a bold if not risky move to make, with some titles proving to be extremely popular upon their return to the world while others fine themselves shunned by those who once admired them. But before we get into that side of things, you would probably like to know the answer to the same question I asked at first; “what exactly is Flashback?”. Well, Flashback is a regenerated and updated version of a classic 1992 action-shooter-platformer. The game
follows the character of Conrad B. Hart, a special agent but one who has forgotten his identity and, despite being in a bit of a predicament from the off, doesn’t seem to understand the situation he finds himself within. Navigating a 2.5D world filled with people, traps, puzzles and machines which all seem to be out to get you, you set out to unearth these forgotten truths and discover who exactly your character is.
As entertaining as cryptic games can sometimes be, you are sadly thrown into this one even blinder and less in the know that your character appears to be. A cutscene at the start of the game sees you escaping from what appears to be an “enemy base” of some kind before being knocked from your escape vehicle in the midst of a nearby rainforest, and the only knowledge you have from here is that you have to reach New Washington because you told yourself to in a pre-recorded video. I know, it’s confusing right, and sounds a lot like Total Recall at this point… There are an awful lot of unanswered questions, and while this does make you wonder about what might be to come, the fact that you know nothing at all about what on Earth is going on does leave you a bit bewildered about what you should be doing. All that is clear is that the things in this strange rainforest-like environment don’t particularly like you, that you are somewhere you shouldn’t be, and that you have a gun so hopefully it will all be ok…
If you take the time to keep playing after you have determined on a scale of bugger all to not a lot how much you don’t know about what is going on, you can learn one or two things about how this game works. First of all, you can jump inexplicably high. So high in fact that the jump animation for your character is a little jumpy itself when you do so. Any man who can jump twice his own high, even in a game world, should at least be able to do it without little glitches like this you would hope… Secondly, shooting is really difficult. There are small, drone-like enemies in the world which lock onto you and attempt to electrocute you, and shooting these is really difficult. There seem to be two reasons for this; aiming is really difficult with the right analogue stick seeming a little over-sensitive and under-reactive for this all at once, and the auto-aiming system which you would hope should solve this issue doesn’t seem to auto-aim particularly well either. The mechanics of the game are simply a little bit under-perfected and it makes playing both more difficult than it should be and almost as complicated as the story is when you enter the game.
One more thing that you learn quite early on is that your character is rather… laughable, considering he is supposed to be the heroic protagonist in all of this. With what seems to be a pretty serious plotline rolling out in which he has forgotten his identity and his path, the character seems to take a far too casual attitude towards his situation and his actions. If his interactions during the first encounter with another character in the game don’t reveal this straight away to you, quotes such as “awesome sauce” will soon make you question the nature of what this game is supposed to feel like and what it is supposed to be about. It is almost as if a character from one game has been placed in the world from another, and the connection between character and story is volatile at best.
The gameplay is a little shaky then, that has been established, but the work which has been done with this title graphically is magnificent. The 2.5D world which has been created is beautiful, and when compared to the original version of the game it is impossible to say that there hasn’t been an incredible leap forward in this area of development. It is also nice to see a regenerated title which claims to be HD and actually genuinely is. Where titles such as Hitman HD or Silent Hill HD failed to inspire or even show signs of any kind of high definition graphics, this game achieves this with honours. The accompanying audio elements, namely the sound effects and voice acting, can also appropriately be included under this HD heading, both being strong positives of the game alongside its appearance. It is just a shame then that the script beneath this voice acting causes your character to appear as, well, a bit of a dick.
Flashback is an ambitious regeneration of a definitive classic, but one which doesn’t quite live up to expectations. It is a shame too, as with a story somewhat comparable to that of the classic Total Recall at the beginning in its nature, it is exciting to wonder as you move through it just how things might play out. But you are brought into things a little too blind for the story to develop nicely in your mind in the early stages which brings it down quite quickly. On top of this, a casual character set in a serious predicament is a combination which was never really going to play out properly or allow the game to meet its full potential. The effort which has been put into bringing the look and sounds of the game into the modern gaming arena however is very impressive and something to be admired, but sadly this is not quite enough to bring what could have been a strong title back from the pitfalls which have befallen it due to the nature of the way gameplay rolls out. Flashback then is a title that, like Conrad himself, gamers may sadly forget…
The Good – An impressive step up from the original title with truly high definition graphics and audio being boasted on this new 2.5D canvas.
The Bad – A story which you go into a little too blind, a protagonist who is far too casual for the situation which he finds himself in and gameplay elements which fall below expectations bring the game down; not the greatest example of regenerating a once popular title…
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.