Review

Flashback

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Back in 1992 a small game called Flashback made an appearance and went on to be considered a true classic. I am a huge fan of the original game and even still play it from time to time. Over the years I have said ‘I wish they could reboot the game with modern visuals,’ and now twenty years after the original game was released, the remake of Flashback was announced.

What really made this reboot so great is that most of the members of the original development team that worked on the game from the nineties contributed to the project, with the original game designer, Paul Cuisset, taking the lead. They wanted to remake the game, but also make it better and improve on what was already there and while I found a few things that didn’t really make sense at first, they became nice additions to the formula later in the game.

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Flashback is not considered a high definition remake of the original game, but rather a re-imagining of the original story. You play as Conrad B. Hart, an agent who has uncovered an alien invasion and had his memory wiped to cover up the truth. Now, he’s on a quest to recover his memory and stop the alien invasion from happening. The story of the game is on par with the original game and I am happy they didn’t change much of it, but what they did do was add extra elements to the story to help us understand what it is all about.

The original game, for example, started with Conrad running down a hallway while being shot at before jumping onto a space bike and then crashing in a forest – you didn’t really know back then where the story was going and that was part of the mystery.

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Flashback has been fully redone in the Unreal Engine and the level of detail in the game is mind-blowingly beautiful – if you ever thought Shadow Complex looked good, then you will be really amazed by these visuals. Take the first level as an example: You start off in a jungle setting and the whole level alive. The trees and the creatures living in the jungle really add to the depth of the game. The original title had hand-drawn backgrounds and had limited animation, but with the modern age they really went all out with the amount of detail. Despite being a download only title, Flashback can really be compared to some retail titles in the visuals department.

Once you get deeper into the game, you will start seeing more amazing details as it’s split into different locations, and each location has its own setting. Many games like this feel as though the developers have simply copy and pasted their levels and made some small visual changes here and there, but that’s not the case with Flashback – it truly feels like you are playing on a whole different level.

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Just like the original game, Flashback is a side-scrolling action platform game, but with some added elements to make it different, such as a skill tree and the chance to earn experience points by killing enemies and completing certain tasks in the game – think of it as a platforming RPG game if you like. When you level up you will receive a few skill points which can be allocated to health, stamina and accuracy. There is also a small mini-map on the screen to help show which areas you haven’t explored yet. I really like it when developers hide things in the game for you to find because it makes it worth all the effort of exploring every part of the level.

Flashback also has some items to help you explore the levels and make sure you don’t miss anything. Later in the game you discover a virtual reality room where you are challenged to complete certain challenges and learn new abilities. I think of these VR rooms as training areas to improve the way you play the game and with your skill points and mini-map you can also track your game progress and stats anytime you like.

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Flashback is really fun and it’s a dream come true for me playing a high definition remake of one of my favourite games. The sad thing is, this game is not without problems and I have found a couple of issues that I wish I hadn’t. Once I was knocked over by an enemy and hit a bad glitch that made me fall through the floor and into a bottomless pit – I had to reload to a checkpoint. There was another time where I got stuck on an object – I had to restart the whole level.

On the main menu of Flashback there’s the option to play the original Flashback which is a cool idea for those gamers who have never played it so they can compare the two. Sadly, this is done very poorly. The original Flashback didn’t have a high resolution back in the day, so they made it playable on a virtual arcade screen, but this takes up so much screen space that it makes the game almost unplayable. It might work better if you had a huge screen.

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Besides all of the issues that I encountered in Flashback, it is still a decent game and it kept me entertained because of the deep story. Unfortunately there were some elements that I could have done without that made the experience a bit cluttered, but the game would have been a little plain without them. Flashback isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoy a good action platform game then you will enjoy this.

Pros: Stunning visuals and sound; Fun gameplay

Cons: Bad game bugs; Unnecessary additions to the game


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