Franklin Fargo isn’t your ideal choice for a superhero or main character in a game, but by the end of Paul Cuisset’s “Subject 13,” you’ll find that like classic games the likes of “Deus Ex” and even “Pitfall,” the adventure lies within the journey and not the character on it. In spite of a lack of overall charisma, Fargo’s mission is an intriguing one that unfolds beautifully for veterans of Cusset’s work and anyone else looking for a real challenge.
“Subject 13” essentially combines elements of wonderful point-and-click games with a look and feel of a sci-fi shooter. At times the game almost looks like your stuck in a vault from the “Fallout” series and that could turn those off who think Cuisett’s adventure is an ominous one, with little in terms of music and eye-popping visuals. Just give it time. With various levels of setting and beautiful cut-scenes, there’s definitely a level of visual allure in “Subject 13.” That helps considering that you’re essentially thrown into this world with virtually no idea what is going on. Because of that, “Subject 13” is a puzzle/adventure game in the vein of “The Talos Principle” and one that allows you to get attached more to the journey and not so much the character. In a way, you kind of become him.
However, unlike the aforementioned game, there are no gimmicks. There are no switches that need to be activated at the same time. Unlike similar games, “Subject 13” is a thinker. Every puzzle, regardless of how big or small requires, you guessed it, thought. Matching tiles and colors is one thing early on, but later on, from every item picked up to the voice guiding you along, you’re going to have to think. So much so, that you’re going to have to look up a walkthrough online as even a few of the early puzzles are mind-bindingly difficult. For casual gamers, this will get old fast. But for fans of Cuisset’s work, it’s an adventure that’ll take them back to the times when the puzzles in puzzle games mattered.
That being said, even if you’re a puzzle purist, it’s hard to see “Subject 13” as a game that’s tailor-made for the PlayStation 4. Although a solid port of the PC game released about two years ago, little has been done in terms of updated the visuals to constitute a second purchase. If you haven’t played the game yet, though, it’s a great change of pace title that requires mental energy and focus. And without giving any of the story away, the payoff is worth it and like the rest of the game, will require you to think even more.
If you go into “Subject 13” with the mentality that it’s going to challenge you, there’s an opportunity to have a great time. However, if you’re idea of puzzle games is “Bubble Bobble” and “Pokemon Puzzle League,” you’ve simply come to the wrong place.