Defunct transcends expectations, and looks absolutely brilliant – from the main character through to the wonderful terrains which have all been carefully constructed, and textured, as to make a fantastic game world. Graphically, the game is a joy, one you’ll be as happy racing through as you will be when you are trundling along on your broken engine.
The game plays out in an extremely simple manner, each of the ten core levels have you heading to a set point, some require you to come into close-contact with certain beacons to unlock doors, some simply require you to pass certain obstacles through platforming and timing. The game is completely free of enemies, however tumbling to your grave, or getting more than half-a-wheel deep in water will send you back to the nearest checkpoint.
The momentum system in the game is the critical element to a smooth and simple experience. Imagine when you are on a swing, as you move down you straighten out your legs, as you head up – past the central point – you tuck your legs back. The game has a single button which performs both these actions – so if you press it when you are heading down a slope you will accelerate, but if you hold it as you hit the flat point, or start heading back up another slant, then you will decelerate. There’s a light on the back of the main character to show you what effect will come of pressing the gravity button – however with the game sometimes very fast, and the POV quite wide, it’s sometimes hard to take all of the information in – although with a little practice most people will start to use the surrounding terrain to gauge the current angle.
Mastering that simple sounding premise is the key to building up the speed, and projection, to scale most of the obstacles in the game – however, this combined with boost pick-ups, and boost fluid, lead to a mad, leap-of-faith style game play, which can rather feel like it undermines the level layouts at times. Hidden throughout levels there are a variety of collectibles, normally in higher, or more obscure, points – however you’ll likely find yourself grinding to a halt as to look around, or correct your alignment, as to grab them.
Collision detection, and clipping, are for the most part not issues. However it does seem that the slower you move, the more you seem to simply bounce off of obstacles in odd ways – and the camera seems more likely to sink through a floor or wall. This combined with the slow trawl the back-up engine that your character is simply seeking to repair, can lead to a few frustrating moments, and underline weaknesses that shouldn’t really matter in a game of this genre.
In fact, if you are travelling slowly, bumbling along, waiting for a string of boosts to get you back underway, the game makes for a fantastic, zen experience – the earlier mentioned stylish textures, and peaceful, placid landscapes seeming quite the opposite of the more frantic moments that full-boost can fling at you.
When you are going fast though, several other mechanics come into play as you make your way through the levels. The boost fluid I mentioned earlier can come in bottles, or pools, with pools serving as a source of endless boost. There’s also air jets, spring boards and zip-lines, which can all send you flying off in different directions, normally to a higher area, in preparation for a large fall.
The game lacks any fall damage, as you are a robot, and actually does a great job of embracing the falling-habits of platform game heroes. In Defunct you have a pipped line appear showing your projected falling location – this allows you to adjust yourself as to land on a specific area, and continue at your pace.
Magnetism is the final skill of the little robot you’re controlling, a button press and you’ll essentially subvert gravity in clinging on to whatever you are currently riding along. This means you may bounce from a bounce-pad onto a curved piece of ruin, which you can magnetite onto as to ride along a ceiling to activate a power cell. It makes for a lot of impressive, fast paced traversal in the later levels.
Outside of the core ten levels there are extra areas to find if you head off the traditional path which exist for you to enjoy riding around – it’s quite easy to find these, as the game is subtle in the direction the level progresses at times. Earlier levels feature landmarks to head towards, should you get turned around, while later ones rely on the curvature of the wreckage and ruins around you, or the paths of the little robots which survived their creators on the world you’re on. Getting flung from these however can leave you easily turned around – although a quick return to checkpoint will realign you.
With a lot of dilly-dallying I had finished the game in about ninety minutes, the last few levels completely flying by as I gave up on my more exploratory, observational play style to instead try and climb the higher echelons of the ramps and obstacles throughout, with as much speed in my wheel as I could manage. I’ve missed some of the hidden areas, and items, and so will definitely be returning to revisit the game as to 100% it – how long that will take, I can’t hazard a guess – but there is a lot of the game still to see.
While my completion time of ninety minutes might not seem like much, the caliber and content-levels of the game demand much more time. If you’re a fan of 3D platform titles then Defunct will hold your attention through to the end – it’s a wonderfully stylish racing, adventure game which is family friendly, fun, and fast.