Playing Culpa Innata was frustrating & monotonous, but highly immersive & addictive at the same time. i haven’t played a game before where i felt these positive and negative effects at the same time so consistently.
The game is set in a Utopian future (2047 AD) where most of the world has joined the ‘world union’ (kinda like a one-world order thing) and the few areas that haven’t (like russia) are called rogue states. you play a world union global peace officer named phoenix wallis who is assigned a case involving the murder of a world union citizen in odessa, russia. the entire game takes place in the world union border city of adrianopolis, where the victim resided.
It’s the kind of adventure game which attempts to be as non-linear as possible. there’s a time system, so it goes from day to night and your activities take up time. some things can only be done at night and others only in the day, but generally you’re able to choose how you fill each day. if you like, you could kill time during the day by going to the gym and submitting meaningless work reports and then sleep early each night—and the story would never progress. but when you do decide to visit people associated with the victim and your case, your questioning will often cause a trigger to take place which may open up new locations or characters for questioning and the game progresses in this fashion.
This is a very different experience to playing a more linear adventure game where your actions are basically pre-scripted and you just have to solve puzzles and explore in order to progress the game story. The game developers of Culpa Innata have much less control over flow and pacing of the story/experience, but the gamer is meant to feel more immersed in the game world. It’s reasonably successful in achieving this, but it also gave me a sense of persistent discomfort because I felt like in this system it was also possible that i would miss out on (possibly minor) aspects of the game that would’ve enhanced the experience.
The game is not always good at prompting for what should be investigated next and is even somewhat ambiguous at times. Especially early on, this led to me not even knowing how to progress the game.
Also, I reckon about 80% of the game involves Phoenix interviewing people. The rules in the World Union state that a Peace Officer cannot take up too much time of any one citizen in a given day. So your questioning is often cut short and then you have to remember to visit this character again the next day to continue. This produces quite a monotonous gaming experience—but it never annoyed me because I found the depth of the characters and world that was being revealed through all this dialogue to be highly fascinating. It’s a highly developed and intriguing world which poses some pertinent questions about the direction of our own society.
However, the game mechanics are awful. I found it difficult to just move Phoenix around because of the changing camera angles and the stop-start motion whenever you click a new location for her to move to. A hotspot scanning feature would’ve been much appreciated, but is strangely absent in this game. The inventory system is a little troublesome, but not the worst around.
The character 3D modeling is very low quality for such a recent game. all the characters look quite ugly. Hair textures are particularly poor.
This game has the worst implementation of antialiasing that I’ve seen of any recent adventure. I turned antialiasing on and still all of the edges of characters looked extremely jagged.
Otherwise the art direction is somewhat pleasing with all background art being treated with a unique and effective constant shimmery filter.
Music is passable, without being a standout. Voice acting is good quality. They also include a nice feature whereby at night you can choose which outfit (from about 10) Phoenix wears.
The logic programming for this game would’ve been extremely complex, but I’m glad to say I only came across a small amount of inconsequential bugs.
Culpa Innata is certainly in the longer category of adventure games—but then the ending seemed to come very suddenly and was poorly implemented. Still, the overall experience was surprisingly captivating and I will certainly play the sequel (if it ever gets released) to see how the story progresses, but also to see how (or if) they adjust the game system.
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Time Played: Over 20 hours