All the Delicate Duplicates (PC) Review

By Adam Riley 19.02.2017

Review for All the Delicate Duplicates on PC

It really is great to see developers trying different things with their games nowadays, breaking out of the mould to offer people something different from the norm. However, there are times where striving to be different is detrimental to the actual game itself. Her Story showed how a great tale could be told via an alternative way, but there are many other 'experimental' efforts that miss the mark considerably. For All the Delicate Duplicates, it takes a tale cast over many years and drapes it over a first-person exploration gameplay style that sadly lacks any gameplay value ...mystery …intrigue …or anything else to keep the attention for longer than the half hour it takes to reach the end.

All the Delicate Duplicates looks great and comes with a very atmospheric soundtrack that keeps players on the edge of their seats waiting for something to kick in. Unfortunately, it becomes abundantly clear that the developer is over-reliant on trying to impress players with presentation values, covering up the fact that there is nothing else of worth included here. The controls for the main character - John, a computer engineer and single father - are fine in terms of movement (using WASD), but the look-around feature is awful, with twitchy mouse movements making it awkward to carefully place his red dot viewpoint over items that need inspecting. Well, 'need' inspecting is probably the incorrect way of putting it, since this is an open-ended experience that does not actually require much to be done to complete it. Whether objects are looked at or not bears no relevance to how the story pans out. Everything is completely inconsequential and 99% of the time unusable, simply included for decorative purposes.

Screenshot for All the Delicate Duplicates on PC

That is where the main problem of All the Delicate Duplicates lies: there is hardly anything to do - no gameplay, the bare minimum in terms of puzzles, and no real thought required at all. It is indeed just a short story laid out in a confusing setting that has players switching from time period to time period in the desperate hope that something it going to happen. It never does, though, despite the soundtrack alluding to it. The story itself is quite plain, as well, but the team tries to cleverly mask this by being as mysterious in its delivery as possible, throwing excerpts of text around in a variety of ways to make it all seem more intriguing than it actually is - scrawled messages on walls, lines that randomly appear around you when wandering about (this has clearly been developed with VR in mind), snippets of information hidden away in journals, oddball cut-scenes, and so on.

Screenshot for All the Delicate Duplicates on PC

It never fully explains itself, though, even after completing everything. There is no satisfying conclusion, no epic reveal, not even a gripping credits sequence to give a sense of satisfaction for actually reaching the end. Instead those in control are left standing there, still none the wiser about anything, simply expected to start over again to dig around some more or, even worse, just sit and read pages of extra text available from the start screen's "Back (and Forth) Story."

Even the extra 'Mo's Universe' mode that unlocks, promising the excitement of being able to join items together for greater revelations, is a smokescreen and gives too much false hope. Rather than being meaningful, it places you in the same open field from the start of the main mode and allows for random objects to be picked up and carried around until another object is spotted, at which point they merge together and an obscure snippet of text pops up. Is there a pattern to it? Seemingly not. Wicker chair onto a horse head, or horse head onto another horse head…it seems to make no difference, and the 'reveals' are just as cryptic as ever, to the point of growing tiresome.

Screenshot for All the Delicate Duplicates on PC

There are also some pointlessly foul language inclusions. Sure, the daughter - Charlotte - starts to go off the rails more and more as time goes by, especially as her father's memory increasingly fades, but there are a couple of journal entries discovered that drop in over the top expletives, and random other moments throughout that feel like they have been forced in. Rising insanity and frustration levels can be conveyed without the need for vulgarities, and here it just comes across as a cheap attempt at shocking those playing, ending up as another attempt at making up for a real lack of substance within the tale being told. All the Delicate Duplicates has so many elements within that could have been developed to make this into something that justifies the BBC, National Lottery, and Arts Council support it received. Rather, it tries to skimp on the core, choosing the story over anything else, but even then misses the mark with that angle.

Screenshot for All the Delicate Duplicates on PC

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Do not be fooled by this one. All the Delicate Duplicates merely attempts to disguise a run-of-the-mill storyline by wrapping it up in pretty a first-person exploration dressing that has clearly been designed for future VR support. Sadly, the lack of interaction with the actual surroundings hurts it badly, luring players in with the promise of more to come, only to end succinctly without any effort required on the player's part, and then expecting them to do lots of background reading to get the full picture. On paper, the initial concept may have seemed like an intriguing new way to deliver a story. In reality, though, it proves to be an overly short and mundane chore of an experience that misses so many opportunities to be so much more than it actually is. An experience it may be, but it is an empty and lacklustre one, overall.

Developer

Mez Breeze, Andy Campbell

Publisher

Mez Breeze Design

Genre

Other

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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