The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Singularity is a thrilling, provocative, yet oddly familiar journey
through the fabric of time. In this alternate take on historical events,
Joseph Stalin’s role in the Cold War is heightened when Russian
scientists discover a new element on the island of Katorga-12. This
element holds untold power, and even though it’s unstable, Stalin
accelerates the experiments. Death, contamination, and unexplainable
phenomena are all Russia has to show for its efforts. Katorga-12 is
quarantined and forgotten. History stays the course until you arrive on
the island in 2010.
Katorga-12 is a place of scientific wonder and
supernatural horror. Rather than letting players free fall down this
rabbit hole, Raven Software sends them down in a bathysphere. Katorga-12
is bathed in Russian colors and propaganda, but the architectural
design feels like it was stripped from the notebook of BioShock’s Andrew
Ryan. This Russian base has an amusement park feel to it, and just like
Ryan’s Rapture, its history is detailed in audio recordings, video
reels, scientist notes, and hastily written wall messages. The guiding
voice even bears a physical resemblance to Andrew Ryan, who (surprise,
surprise) tries to blow your mind in a similar way to Ryan’s “would you
Raven doesn’t hide the fact that Singularity is
heavily influenced by BioShock. Rather, the developer uses this familiar
design to paint a unique picture. Sure, I found myself thinking about
Ayn Rand’s objectivism at certain points, but this story’s most
intriguing moments are tied to the greed of an empire and the
conflicting voices within it. Raven does a phenomenal job delivering the
fiction. The experiments, and people conducting them, are fascinating
and believable. This tale runs out of magic roughly halfway through the
game, but it picks up in the later stages and concludes with three
satisfying alternate endings. The good ending, if it can be called that,
made me do something I never thought I would in a game – a powerful
moment, to say the least.
Singularity’s gameplay starts strong and
ramps up as the adventure ages. Thanks to a time manipulation device,
your protagonist can degenerate or revitalize the age of an object. This
device can revert war-torn staircases and rusted electrical boxes to
as-good-as-new states. A handful of great puzzles are attached to
environmental repair, but these opportunities are surprisingly rare.
When they pop up, Raven recycles the same techniques used in previous
Most of the time powers are reserved for combat.
Singularity makes you feel like a badass with its excellently crafted
gunplay. Throwing time manipulation into the arsenal makes you feel like
an unstoppable god. Pointing a finger at a Russian soldier can lead to
his body aging a thousand years in a second. Highly agile enemies that
bounce off of the walls and cloak on the ground can be frozen in a
temporal distortion bubble. As they sit there in a helpless state, you
can fill their bodies with as many bullets as you want. Slowing time
turns sniping into one of the most relaxing actions I’ve come across in a
game. I rarely died in Singularity, but that doesn’t mean it lacks
challenge or excitement. Most combat scenarios unfold with a
high-octane, “use everything you have in your arsenal” urgency. New
enemy types, powers, and weapons are doled out all the way up to the
I jokingly told my co-workers that Singularity is
more BioShock 2 than BioShock 2. While meant as a subtle jab at
Singularity’s “borrowed” designs, this statement relates to finding a
gaming experience that transports players to a new world filled with
discovery and the unexpected. Singularity’s greatest shared quality with
BioShock is Raven’s realization that gamers want new experiences, not
another taste of the same trending flavor.
This can even be said
of Singularity’s multiplayer component. Rather than making sure it has
every mode from every other FPS, this experience focuses on something
different: creatures versus soldiers. Several beasts from the
single-player game, including the basketball-sized phase tick, are
playable, and prove to be exhilarating weapons in their own right. The
multiplayer experience is a good time – and quite different than
single-player (most time powers have been excised) – but it doesn’t have
any depth or a progression for players to follow. At the most, it’s a
fun distraction. The single-player game, however, should not be missed.
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.