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Volume Review

Volume Trainer
 CHEATfactor Game Review by:  Joe Sinicki Reviewed on: PC 
 

Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Volume. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.

Volume is a big jump for Mike Bithell, who you may or may not know as the creator of Thomas was Alone, the charming yet criminally overlooked platformer. It's a remarkably fun, ambitious and clever take on the stealth genre that often makes you rethink how you play the genre. Unfortunately it all doesn't work as well as it's supposed to thanks to some AI problems and few design decisions that put the whole game in question. That being said, there's still a somewhat refreshing feeling that goes along with playing Volume that kept me coming back for more.

 
...filled with the typical British humor...
Volume Review Screenshot
 

It's perhaps easiest to think of Volume as a modern day take on the tale of Robin Hood. Protagonist Robert Locksley uses a forgotten AI and a tool called...the Volume to virtually recreate rooms right out of the mansion of business man and bad guy Guy Gisborne and his associates in an effort to teach people how to steal from them easier. It's a bit of a silly story but it's handled remarkably well by Bithell here as it's filled with the typical British humor that makes shows like Doctor Who, The IT Crowd and Sherlock so much fun to watch. I found myself waiting to make moves as long as I could just so I could listen to the dialogue, especially the conversations between Lockley and the AI as it struggles to accept that it's no longer the cutting edge, high tech piece of technology it once was. I've also got to point out how well Andy Serkis does as the game's big bad, though it is a smaller role.

Gameplay wise, Volume feels a lot like the old Metal Gear Solid VR missions. You'll be doing your best to sneak past, trick and distract your way past a set of virtual guards. Since pretty much the entire game takes place in the virtual world levels spring up around you as you move through them, forcing you to a just your strategy on the fly. The game does a pretty good job at giving you new tools and helping you integrate them into the game. Though most of the one hundred or so missions feel pretty similar Volume does a decent enough job at making you feel like there's a constant state of progress here. By the time the game was more or less finished I felt like a skilled thief regardless of how many times I failed.

It wasn't always that way though. Volume's biggest problems become more apparent the more you play it. Half of the fun of these stealth games are strategizing and coming up with a plan, then adapting if it doesn't work out. Volume gives you very little chance to adapt as there's very little chance to escape if you're caught. Maybe that has to do with the story that I'm supposed to be teaching people how to steal but it still wasn't fun having to play the same section of level over and over again because I was spotted by one guard. The game does make it pretty easy to pass most of the sections though since each level is literally littered with check points and more often than not you're able to merely race to a checkpoint before you're forced to start over.

 
...I never felt like my progress was in jeopardy...
Volume Review Screenshot
 

I was also disappointed that some of the enemies and traps posed almost no legitimate threat to my progress...at least that's how it seemed. Once I learned most of the tricks the game needed to teach me, even the enemies that had new attacks and techniques to find me rarely felt like I had to do anything different to be sure to pass them, though it always somehow remained fun. I couldn't help but feel like all of the enemies were either slow and sluggish or oddly timed and I never felt like my progress was in jeopardy when someone new was introduced.

The game also includes a level maker and it's what's kept me playing Volume long after clearing the main game. There's a small community of really dedicated gamers that are still making really great courses that put some of the game's actual levels to shame. Key here is that the creation suite is remarkably easy to use but features a lot of depth if you're willing to look for it. Like normal I'm no good at creating long lasting levels but that won't stop me from trying and playing others.

I wanted to love Volume, but I could only really like it...a lot. It's charming, fun and at times it's challenging but the content all ends up running together and that challenge melts away thanks too a way too forgiving save and checkpoint system. I still have to recommend Volume to you for everything it does right, in spite of what it doesn't.

 
Overall:  7/10 Presentation: 7 Gameplay: 8 
Lasting Appeal: 7 CHEATfactor: 0 
 
 
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