Title: Quantum Replica
Developer: ON3D Studios
Release Date: May 14, 2021
Reviewed On: PS4
The trailer for Quantum Replica depicts the game as a cool, skill-heavy, action-focused take on the stealth genre. Think Metal Gear meets Cyberpunk, with time-shifting special powers thrown in. Unfortunately, after jumping in, I discovered a shallow, broken attempt to replicate more famous titles.
Quantum Replica begins with a motion-comic cutscene, which is already a bad and derivative idea, depicting the main character receiving cybernetic body parts. While cyborgs are key to the cyberpunk aesthetic, it’s more to establish why the protagonist doesn’t have any memories at the beginning of the game. As more of the story unfolds, most of the content comes off uninspired and barebones. The plot feels like a gesture in the direction of dystopian fiction. It adds basically nothing of note to the genre.
The gameplay quickly confirms this problem. Quantum Replica markets itself as taking place in a vast city, but it’s actually very linear. Your goal at any given time is usually just “get to this point on the map and navigate the obstacles in your way.” That’s fine in isolation, but getting through said obstacles involves attempting to engage with the ”combat system.” With air quotes.
Quantum Replica doesn’t actually have a combat system, but it tries to pretend that it does. In any encounter, you can choose to either put your enemies to sleep, in which case they’ll wake up after a short time and act as though nothing has happened if they don’t instantly spot you again or kill them. This dichotomy sounds like a Dishonored-esque moral choice, but I found no consequences to killing enemies in my time playing. In fact, it still might not matter – if another enemy discovers a dead body while trying to find you, they just call for a medic drone, and the deceased guard is swiftly replaced with another one, so you start back at square one.
Should you choose to engage in combat rather than trying to sneak past your enemies (which, despite this being a stealth game, is often much more difficult than confronting them), you can either do so with ranged or melee attacks, and neither option is enjoyable for different reasons. Your gun works, but you have a tiny ammo pool at any given time for both lethal and non-lethal bullets, and fatal shots will make noise and likely get you discovered anyway.
The real problem is attempting to aim, done by holding down the L2 button…which allows you to rotate your character with the left analog stick instead of doing what you’d expect and using the right. You can’t move and shoot simultaneously, which is faithful to the games modeled after but is still irritating when there’s a whole analog stick not being used.
Melee combat is even worse because combat is a strong word for what happens when you confront an enemy head-on. There’s one attack button, and it doesn’t actually attack. You either press the left face button to knock your opponent out or hold it to kill them and whichever option you pick, the game will have to cut to black for a moment before the animation plays (during which time the player is invincible). This makes every fight with one or two opponents incredibly anticlimactic because you can often just tank the guards’ shots and kill them by zerg rushing. It also leads to a bug contributing to my biggest problem with this title.
Quantum Replica is stuffed full of cheap, unfair deaths, both by design and because of bugs. Long before the game was supposed to start getting challenging – the trailer features bullet hell segments that the player is meant to be able to maneuver your way through – I was starting to die consistently because of the unresponsive but reflex-based controls. They just do not work as well as the game wants them to, and it will lead to you getting sent back to the checkpoint over and over for platforming you should be able to do easily.
The other bug has to do with that cut to black before a melee animation plays, in which case any number of things can suddenly happen. The part where I finally gave up on this title after my thirtieth death or so was when I was killing a guard, the same guard respawned behind me for no reason and shot me to death.
What surprised me later about this title was that I had been under the impression that it was a brand-new game, in which case, maybe the developer would patch these issues out, and the combat would see improvement. I was shocked to find out that this is actually a port of a game released on Steam three whole years ago, leaving me with no room to give this any benefit of the doubt.
Quantum Replica is a broken experience. Its challenge stems from awkward control schemes and unfair systems, while the buggy and unresponsive maneuvering makes sure you’re rarely having any fun. As cool as this game may look at a glance, it quickly loses that qualifier after 30 minutes of gameplay.
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