Vol­ume

A sci-fi Robin Hood, livestreamed

Mac Format - - RATED - Devel­oper Mike Bithell Games, mikebithell­games.com OS X 10.10.3 or higher, 1.4GHz pro­ces­sor, see site for graph­ics cards Clear stealth me­chan­ics Mostly al­lows ap­proaches

‘Vol­ume’ is a pun on the game’s themes of speak­ing truth to power, and to its sig­na­ture me­chanic – a whis­tle used to dis­tract rov­ing guards. Also, the game is pre­sented al­most en­tirely in vol­u­met­ric vir­tual re­al­ity: all glow­ing walls and sharp, polyg­o­nal en­e­mies.

Rob Lock­sley broad­casts a se­ries of stealthy heists from the sim­u­lated homes of the rich and pow­er­ful in hopes that his view­ers will com­mit gen­uine rob­beries, thus sub­vert­ing the klep­to­cratic gov­ern­ment of near‑fu­ture Eng­land. One hun­dred dis­crete mazes are guarded by pat­tern-bound sol­diers and stud­ded with force fields and lasers. The goal is to steal ev­ery gem and es­cape.

Sub­tlety and nu­ance are for­tu­nate by-prod­ucts of the strin­gent puz­zle de­sign. A pa­trolling Pawn may have to be lured to a spe­cific point to give you time to get away, for ex­am­ple. This sounds fussy, but new con­cepts are in­tro­duced gen­tly and stacked in in­creas­ingly sat­is­fy­ing ways.

Each level has a par time. This fo­cus on ef­fi­ciency may be most con­gru­ent with the game’s fram­ing, but it’s not the only ap­proach. Pa­tience may mean you’re never spot­ted, but re­veal­ing your­self can be a tac­ti­cal de­ci­sion. The myr­iad user-cre­ated lev­els show the

When undis­tracted by its talk­a­tive plot, Vol­ume of­fers dis­tilled and un­en­cum­bered stealth ac­tion.

me­chan­ics are un­am­bigu­ous and con­sis­tent, but al­low for re­mark­able flex­i­bil­ity. The script is wry and touch­ing in small mo­ments, yet de­spite touch­ing on weighty top­ics like xeno­pho­bia, voyeurism and class, nei­ther the plot nor the game’s pol­i­tics crys­tal­lize be­yond your foe’s ob­vi­ous vil­lainy. Joseph Leray

Pink isn’t a good colour on Lock­sley be­cause it means he’s about to be shot.

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