Tartarus is an action/adventure title by Abyss Gameworks which hit Steam just a couple of days ago. The game features text input feature and developed using Unreal Engine 4. I am lucky enough to lay my eyes and hands on this brand new title and share my first impressions with you.
Can the cook save the ship?
In Greek mythology, Tartarus is the deep abyss in Hades’ underworld that is a dungeon for the wicked and a prison for the Titans. In this game, Tartarus is a mining ship and unfortunately we are not a Titan. Actually, we are a miner and the cook of the ship, and we are the only one who can save it. It would be so much easier if we were the engineer or the captain, or a Titan, but what is the fun in that?
We wake up on the floor of the galley, a little bit injured and have absolutely no idea what happened. Soon, we find out that the security protocol has been engaged, the doors are locked, the ship is still flying and getting dangerously close to Neptune, and the worst, the meal is ruined. Beforelong, we are tasked to reach the terminal systems and save the crew and the ship since we are the only one who has an almost-clear way to them. The system engineer Andrews helps us through the intercom system of the ship and we start our journey.
The story of Tartarus is similar to other space adventure titles, yet there is one thing makes it shine amongst others. It is the protagonist of the game; the ignorant, sweary, a little bit crazy and extremely funny cook Cooper. Just to clear the smoke on your heads, I must say that Cooper has no idea how to use a terminal and how to fly a space-ship. I am even surprised that he can use a flashlight properly. If you are like me –curious about computer systems, yet had no chance to try yourselves, you will warm up to Cooper in just one second and learn with him, swear with him and laugh with him.
In order to save the crew and the ship, you will need to reach a terminal after a terminal and complete various tasks by using text-input system of the game which is no easy task. While using these terminals, you will work with codes. Everything I say about a terminal would be a spoiler and I don’t want you to hate me, so I am going to keep these things to myself.
Yet, you may want to know that Tartarus may make you go delirious, since terminals work in a very complex way, there are lots of terms about engineering and machinery, there are tasks which can be done only by understanding how these machinery works while the feeling that you are just a dumb cook never leaves you. You need to code your way out of the ship, if I must tell.
If you don’t forget that Cooper is just a miner and a cook who has no experience in the computer field, it will be easier to stay frosty and focus on the task ahead before smashing your head to your screen. When the task is complete, Cooper’s reactions to his accomplishments will put a smile on your face, since he will be surprised and proud as you are.
Even though it is hard and complex, I never said that it is not a great experience. I’ve played text-based games which works with basic command systems. I know it gets hard when you can’t find out what command you will choose, but Tartarus is a benchmark when it comes to text-based elements. It is hard, yet highly enjoyable, complex yet satisfying and finally, it is a joy seeing how Cooper handles this brand new experience. It is like he just found out that he has a functional brain and how to use it instead of his muscles.
I will totally remember that!
This is the biggest lie your brain ever tells you. Even though a part of your brain knows that you won’t and warns you that you will completely forget that, the other part insists. And, one other part is already bored to witness that this is happening again.
If I must warn you about something, it is this: Grab a pen and paper before you even launch the game. Don’t be the fool I was! I said that I will remember that and I consider myself good at this kind of things. But now, I have enough documents to publish a manual about how to use ship terminals, how to balance the oxygen levels and how to open hatch doors without hurting yourself for beginners.
You write down everything. You sit there, you grab your pen and squint your eyes or do whatever you must do, and you take notes of every number and letter you see on every terminal. Maybe start learning Morse Code before even purchase the game. Maybe go take some computer engineering lessons, or even maybe go become a space-engineer and then play the game. But, always take notes since it is the key to complete Tartarus.
Every terminal will offer you new puzzles to solve and new challenges, but after a while you will find yourself getting better and better at this. Terminals are not the only puzzles Tartarus offer, there are items you need to find and ways you need to follow during your journey.
Let me tell you that: If you think that you are not able to look at one screen more than five minutes and if you are looking for an adventure story in a space-ship, Tartarus is not your game. Tartarus requires patience, attention and your precious time. But mostly, Tartarus requires some brain.
The miracle of Unreal Engine 4
Like most of the Unreal Engine 4 games, Tartarus looks dashing. The environment and atmosphere of Tartarus is delightful like we expect from an Unreal Engine 4 game. Everything looks real than real life and highly detailed. It is true that Tartarus is set in a spaceship, yet there are other views you can enjoy during your gameplay. You will not only stare into a terminal screen, yet you need to find it yourselves. Still, I must mention that cutscenes stain the visual beauty of the game and does not show the overall visual quality.
When it comes to voice acting and environmental sounds, I believe Abyss Gameworks did a brilliant job. When you run, Cooper sounds like he is dying but apart from that and knowing that this is Abyss’s first game, we easily can look over that.
Eventually, I enjoyed Tartarus at full. I had no bugs, crashes or whatsoever. The game offers complex, challenging and sometimes frustrating puzzles, great visuals and atmosphere with a decent story, and requires attention, patience, a pen and a paper. Beating Tartarus is no easy job, but it does not mean that Tartarus was not a great experience. I highly recommend Tartarus if you are up to some challenging puzzle adventure.
Tartarus is now available on Steam and waiting for you to delve into its complex yet highly satisfying world.
- Complex, challenging & interesting puzzles
- Text-input feature is a great add-on
- Delightful atmosphere
- Great voice acting
- If you are not into puzzles, Tartarus is not your game
- You may find mouse movements a little bit weird from time to time
- Story could be so much better
Tartarus was reviewed using the Steam key provided by the publisher.