Beat the game, personal review

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Image Not Available, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. Image Not Available

    Image Not Available Pangalactic Porcupine

    I've been looking forward to this game since I saw that stream Chucklefish did but now I have to say, I'm rather disappointed with it, especially when comparing it to games like X-COM, which allegedly inspired Halfway.

    What stood out immediately to me was the UI: while the general design of it is good, the execution is often clunky and awkward. Scrolling the screen requires the cursor to be up against the edge of the screen for a while and the camera movement is stuttering and slow, making scrolling to see distant enemies annoying and tedious. When you click on an enemy to select him as target and cancel out of it via right click it opens up the command wheel even if it was closed before, which half the time centers the camera onto the character, meaning you have to scroll back to the enemy again, the other half it leaves the screen stuck until you hit spacebar again. Also, why can't I access the game options while on a mission? There were a lot of cases where I wanted to look up key bindings but couldn't because it would have required quitting the game and going back to the main menu.

    Gameplaywise it has a solid foundation very reminiscent of XCOM:EU, but is again poorly executed. The cover system seems to be barely relevant and more like a nice bonus than a vital element. Enemies never evolve beyond "guy that shoots you" and "guy that punches you" and towards the end they just get more and more bullet-spongy. Its incredibly tedious having to whittle down an enemy through multiple rounds of concentrated fire from the entire team and even more so when these enemies become regular occurrences towards the end. The item selection is also very limited, with only three weapon types that are mostly only differentiated by their effective range. Usables are very basic with only medpacks, shield cells and one type of grenade. The stimpack system seems a bit contrived and a more traditional leveling system might have been better. Also a dick move that the game doesn't tell you about the five stimpack limit until you try to use the 6th. As a first time player I didn't know about this and simply used all the packs I found, whereas if I had known about the limit I would have put more thought into what stims to use.

    The missions themselves have very little variation between them, it always boils down to fight enemies, go to point X, fight more enemies and maps consist mostly of sets of linear corridors with no room for maneuvering. The map design combined with the limited gameplay variety means it pretty much always comes down to a slugfest where you and the enemy trade shots until all the enemies are dead making for a very shallow tactical experience. The game really could've benefited from more variety here, i.e. enemies with special abilities, grenades that inflict status effects on the enemy, etc. as well as more open map design that actually lets you maneuver instead of piling all your guys onto the entrance.

    In terms of storyline there isn't much to say, the setting and characters are cliched but overall enjoyable and it fits the style of the game. The writing was decent, although I did find some oddities like the usage of commando deck instead of command deck (which I assume is a mistranslation from the German "Kommandodeck"). Overall nothing to write home about but this isn't exactly an RPG driven by narrative and dialog so it doesn't weight in too much.

    As for quality and polish, I didn't really run into too much trouble aside from the aforementioned UI flaws and some minor bugs, nothing out of the ordinary for release day although I did run into one particular issue in the side mission that has you collect high-level weapons and armor. Any time you loot a crate an encounter spawns and one particular encounter caused the game to stutter and freeze more and more as further encounters were triggered until the final encounter would always cause a complete game freeze followed by a CTD, which meant that I couldn't finish that particular mission while collecting all the crates.

    Overall I think the game had a lot of potential for greatness but didn't realize it. As it stands it is merely mediocre and the future dev support for the game and modding will determine weather or not it can still live up to it.

    PS Who thought it would be a good idea to have the final boss be running over a bunch of exposed catwalks while the boss takes potshots at you? If there's a trick to it I haven't found it and the only way I found to beat him was to stock up on healing items and retry until the RNG gods make him miss enough that I can get some guys in range to attack him.
    • Somersby

      Somersby Space Hobo

      Hello guys,
      actually, I have to signed this post... this is exactly the same what I think about the game.... Halfway has great potential, but some stuff is not realize very well. On other side, I like it anyway, but when I'll finish the game I won't play it again. (After some guys from community add new maps, I'll try it, but main campaign not)

      Are you planning some future updates like add new types of grenades, guns, and maybe some bigger improvements, or this is the game what you want, and after you fix all bugs, it will be done?
      • Bach

        Bach Halfway Developer Developer


        Thanks for your review/feedback. You bring up some very good points and some of them will certainly be addressed. We're taking all the feedback on board an evaluate what we think is best in terms of shaping the game. We've received a wide variety (and sometimes opposing) feedback and we won't make any quick fire decisions that massively affect gameplay.

        Thanks for taking the time to write some feedback, you have no idea how much this is appreciated!

        • Image Not Available

          Image Not Available Pangalactic Porcupine

          After replaying the game I want to add/revise a few points: the corridor map design I mentioned only really appears in the lab levels, it starts off okay and the early missions give lots of open space with room to move around in and so do later missions but the problem seems to be more with the enemy placement. Especially in the late game a lot of rooms combine strong turrets with armored/melee enemies where the only viable tactic seems to be to hunker down at the entrance since pushing forward is not an option. Turrets deserve a special mention here since they are actually an example of good enemy design: their high firepower is a unique strength the player has to account for and their immobility a unique weakness the player must exploit to take them out effectively. You can move out of their firing range or stay in blind spots to outmaneuver them, although that last point is another problem with the map design since late game missions often don't give you suitable cover spots. More enemy types like that would go a long way toward spicing up the gameplay. Compare to the armored enemies, all they are differentiated by is lots of hitpoints and the only thing you can do about it is the same thing you do to every enemy, shoot them until they're dead. It just takes a really long time.

          Also I kinda wish the characters had more abilities. The two they get aren't enough to really differentiate most of them especially since most of them aren't all that useful. It would have been nice if we had a leveling system akin to XCOM, where you could choose between different abilities that specialize the characters in different directions. So Lannis for example could have one tree that gives him his current rifle bonus, the 100% shot and maybe something like increased effective range to turn him into more of a long range support type of character that hangs back and takes enemies out from long range and another tree with abilities like increased movement, aim and damage bonus to flanked/out of cover enemies and an active ability to fire after spending two AP on movement which would turn him into a more mobile character build around outmaneuvering and flanking the enemy, which would not only change up the way you play Lannis himself but also enable interesting synergies and strategies in how you put together your team, which in turn would increase gameplay variety and replayability. Although I imagine the addition of a leveling system like that might be more suitable for something like an expansion pack or sequel than a patch to the main game.

          On a closing note I'm glad to hear that community feedback is being evaluated and I hope you can shape the game to live up to its full potential. Also, do you have any plans beyond bug fixes/campaign editor? Cause even the main game, lacking as it is, has me hooked and if you made some kind of Enemy Within style expansion pack that's just a whole bunch of new enemy types, weapons, items and side missions I would buy it in a heartbeat.

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