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Optical Inquisitor 17+ Review

Off-target

· · @PleasantPig

Considering its cast of characters consists entirely of stick-people, Optical Inquisitor has a surprising amount of style. You take the role of Risskin, a battle-scarred, fresh-out-of-jail crook on the hunt for the former co-conspirators who wronged him. It’s a tribute to the schlocky revenge thrillers of the 80s, complete with mobile phones the size of bricks and a bass-heavy techno soundtrack.

It’s a game of undying grudges, of sniper rifles, and of intricately-executed, bloody murder. Yep, it’s a sniping game – much like a glut of similarly-styled flash games you’ve probably already played.

Adults Only

It’s aimed squarely at the adult market, too. Don’t let the childlike presentation fool you; plenty of blood is shed here. Hell, even the opening cut-scene features our protagonist flung from a moving car, impaling his eye on a branch. This is merely the tip of the iceberg, though – Optical Inquisitor is primarily a sniping game, so splattering headshots are par for the course, but Risskin’s brand of vengeance has a vicious streak. Just like any blood-lusting anti-hero worth his salt, he’s not afraid to torture his enemies to get the information he wants.

However, while this simplistically-rendered world is home to a good atmosphere, the developers have failed to wring any real personality from their matchstick characters. To be fair, when it comes to revenge flicks, one-dimensional characters come with the territory. However, the dialogue here is especially terrible, to the extent that you’ll quickly lose interest in Risskin’s motivations entirely. There’s even a daughter for whom we’re supposed to feel some kind of sympathy and affection, but she has about as much character as a used teabag.

Boom! Headshot

But all this is unimportant, isn’t it? I mean, nobody’s here for rich characterisation and a compelling narrative. Let’s be honest: all we want from a sniping game is a satisfying slice of ultraviolence. And hey, sometimes Optical Inquisitor delivers soundly on that front. Some missions, like one in which you dispatch an enemy as he leaps between buildings, are incredibly satisfying to complete.

Unfortunately, this is a relative rarity. The best thing about the sniper rifle in games is that it offers an unusually cerebral approach to murder. Taking enemies down in the right order, shooting scenery to make it look like an accident, picking out a target in a crowd of civilians – the best sniper games feel more like selections of mini-puzzles with explosive pay-offs. Optical Inquisitor dabbles with these elements, but everything’s altogether too signposted to feel truly satisfying. The solution to each mission is usually blindingly obvious and, amusingly, there’s even a mission in which you gun down a signpost to crush two men – an ironic testament to the game’s level of subtlety.

Sticking Points

The same goes for the brutal interrogations, which offer you an entirely arbitrary selection of dialogue options, and only one method of violence with which to extract the information. These sections should make you feel completely empowered as a player, but it’s all too evident that the developers are still pulling your strings.

Oh, and then there’s the gambling minigames. Optical Inquistor makes you pay for stuff using in-game currency between missions – namely, information for the next target and weapon upgrades – so you quickly and frequently run out of money. Gambling is the only way to earn extra cash, aside from completing missions. For the small fry, you’ve got dice-rolling and coin-flipping at the casino – which plays about as dull as it sounds. However, if you’re looking to earn the big bucks, the races are your best bet. You can either bet on a car in a CPU-controlled race, or take the wheel yourself. Exciting, right? Alas, the handling is awful, making these top-down races are borderline unplayable.

And if your balance reaches zero, the bank kindly throws some more money your way – making both the process of gambling and the in-app purchases feel somewhat unnecessary. It’s a good job too, as it already costs $0.99 to unlock the full app, and that’s already a stretch. You shouldn’t drop any more money on this, that’s for sure.

2.0 / 5

mediocre

We can't recommend Optical Inquisitor. It's a game which has been done many times before – only better, and free. tweet

Matt Suckley · Mar 13, 2014

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