Technobabylon Review: A William Gibson Murder-Mystery

Wadjet Games’ latest installment “Technobabylon,” has deftly woven elements from 80s science fiction a la Neuromancer with a tightly wound thriller-detective story, and it works pretty well. Playing from the perspective of three different protagonists, but mainly from Dr. Charles Regis, you are drawn into a conspiracy that appears to know no bounds, neither physical nor digital.

Well-priced and deceptively complex, it will leave your brain tingling. Don’t expect this game to take it easy on you, because it has a hell of a learning curve.

One of the first things that will likely catch the eyes of younger players will be the graphic style. It’s very much a throwback, reminiscent of the old SNES days. Distinct features are focused in the faces, characters walk slowly from point to point, and it utilizes the classic large speech bubbles highlighted by a closeup of the speaker’s head. While this might leave a bad taste in the mouths of those more accustomed to the high-end graphics, it’s well worth it for those wanting to look back on simpler days without blowing the dust off of the old consoles. It’s sure to give the youth a taste of the old school and take older players on a stroll down memory lane.

But the real enjoyment only starts there…

The setting is dark but without the colors becoming dull and drab. They’re simply muted somewhat, allowing for the mood to remain atmospheric without becoming depressing. The controls are simplistic, but allow for deceptively complicated interactions. It’s a point and click game wherein you progress with the levels and the storyline by utilizing various objects on your environment, more often than not in unexpected ways. Your mind is the weapon here, not the trigger button. Putting red paint into the extinguisher system and then setting it off with a lighter so you can see the stealth-cloaked guard. This is the sort of out of the box thinking you’ll need to employ. Well-suited for players with patience and guile, this is not a game for those expecting a quick reward. Think “Blazing Dragons” but with a pulpy noir style and William Gibson-esque technology. The methodology-heavy style of the game may limit its fanbase some in this day and age, but it surely won’t limit how much it will be enjoyed by those who can appreciate it.

With delightful jokes and references to both science fiction (from the obscure to the mainstream) and a plethora of sociopolitical commentary, this is a nugget of a game to check out if you’re in the mood to slow it down a bit and slap on your thinking cap.

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