Short Version: While it received little to no hype and borrows from numerous games before it, Singularity is an extremely fun shooter that provides some of the most satisfying, visceral action I’ve seen recently.
Sometimes, the hype used to promote a game can prove to be its downfall, generating high hopes that the final product can’t possibly satisfy. In recent years, this has become all too common either through developers’ making grand promises that they can’t possibly live up to. Such as Peter Molyneux, or just through the marketing taking on a life of its own, creating so much excitement that no game could ever satisfy. Then, there are games that practically come out of nowhere providing a truly surprising gaming experience. Singularity is one of those games.
While it is by no means revolutionary, Singularity takes concepts we’ve seen in games before and melds them together into a hybrid that just works. Like Bioshock, you wield both a gun and a super-powered hand of sorts. In the vein of Timeshift though, rather than shooting fire, ice and locusts out of your bare hands, you will have control of time itself. Then, mix in some Half-Life 2 and a truly creepy and interesting environment like Bioshock’s Rapture, and you’ve got Singularity in a nutshell.
Story And Sound
Lately, I’ve been finding it difficult to allow myself to be drawn into a game’s narrative. While it may not provide a needlessly complex plot full of twists and turns, leaving you hanging on its every word, I really did enjoy the story being told in Singularity.
You take control of Nate Renko. As a black ops soldier, you are sent to a mysterious island named Katorga-12, fearing another Chernobyl, to investigate suspicious amounts of radiation. Needless to say, things go wrong and you end up stranded on the island fighting for your survival and, at the risk of sounding clichÃ©, the fate of the world. It turns out that this island was used during the Cold War by Russian scientists experimenting on a newly discovered element: E99. Then some sort of catastrophic event led to the abandonment of the island. Years later in the present, 2010, Katorga-12, previously hidden from the world, is the stage of the events comprising Singularity.
While the story is definitely interesting, it’s nothing groundbreaking. What really helps it though, and sets it apart from the majority of the games on the market, is the amazing atmosphere that is created along with the expert sound design. When I first began exploring Katorga-12, I felt the same feeling I’d felt back in 2007 when I played Bioshock and stepped into Rapture for the first time. That feeling of stepping into the unknown where anything can happen. It keeps you on your toes. This is accentuated by the fact that you are constantly being thrown back and forth in time between the present and the island’s heyday during the Cold War. This makes for some extremely interesting moments where you’re witnessing two situations from two different time periods as they are being bent and manipulated by the powers at play on the mysterious island.
Helping to further this feeling of being trapped in the unknown is the amazing sound design. You’ll constantly find yourself jumping at sounds just down the corridor, wondering if it’s just the island playing tricks with your mind, or if there’s some sort of creature waiting to tear into your skull. You never quite know what’s real or not on Katorga-12. Stuck between two different time periods, it’s not uncommon to run into something only to find it intangible and not of the current plane.
Now, I may just be a sucker for government conspiracy stories in games and the post-apocalyptic style aesthetic, but I really felt immersed in the story Singularity right up until the credits rolled, which has been a rare occurrence for me as of late in relation to gaming. It may not be for everyone, but if it seems at all interesting to you I urge you to give it a chance, as it really draws you in.
Before this game had come out I’d heard little to nothing about it. I understood the basic premise that you would have the ability to control time in order to aid you in battle and that’s about it. Having played Timeshift in the past and knowing the similarities between the two games, I was worried that this game would end up with similarly lackluster gameplay. Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about.
While I felt a bit iffy at the beginning of the game, armed only with basic weaponry and fighting off the same, slow enemies over and over, any fears of lackluster gameplay were dispelled as soon as I got my hands on the Time Manipulation Device (TMD). That’s when the game suddenly opened up.
This device gives the player abilities ranging from controlling gravity, stopping time, and, my favorite, aging objects. Not only does this allow for many possibilities in puzzle solving, it also opens up many strategic options as far as combat goes. Has the cover nearby been destroyed? Return it to its pristine, undamaged condition by reverse aging the structure to that of its form in the past. While this simple action of aging objects, enemies and creatures may seem simple, each enemy type deals with the process differently and there are enough unique ways to use the power that you won’t be feeling any deja-vu throughout the game.