Revolution 60 Review: innovative iOS game

I don’t review games much. I don’t play games much. I follow Brianna of Giant Spacekat on Twitter, and I felt a real enthusiasm and genuine excitement as the game was released. I had to download Revolution 60 and give it a go.

Things I love

I love the combat system. It’s somewhere in between twitch (a real turn off for me) and turn-based. Timing matters, but it’s not impossible to be good. And I really like how the difficulty scales. On easy mode it’s pretty damn easy. On a harder mode you have to be much more conservative and pay attention to timing. The gestures and things you do to move the character are a really good match for the interface. I feel like the game, in its current form, only touches on some of the things you can do with this combat system. I look forward to more and similar games.

The commercial model is perfect. It starts with a free sample that is fully playable and introduces enough plot and game mechanics to give you a real feel for it. Then you get the question: do you buy and keep playing? Simple as that. No stupid addiction model. No lame ransoming your progress unless you pay. No constant upgrading or paying for new levels. I use the movie ticket comparison. A movie ticket costs $10 and gets me 20 minutes of ads and 120 minutes of content. (Never mind how offensive I find it to pay for ads). This game, at $6.00, gave me more entertainment and no ads. That’s an easy choice.

I love the all-female thing. It simultaneously makes an important statement and it pokes fun at itself a bit too (“is Chessboard an all-girl thing?”).

I love the concept behind a choose-your-own-adventure type story where the action and choices change the story irrevocably.

The animation is really smooth and I love how it fluidly transitions from delivering the final hit, kick, or whatever to delivering her signature bullet to the head and tagline. It doesn’t cut, it just does it. Though I do agree with another reviewer that the tagline stuff actually isn’t a good feature.

The motion capture or whatever they did to get the martial arts moves looks great. I love the moves. They’re very believable and fun to watch.

I like how it exposes the two axes on which you make decisions: the Minuete-Amelia axis and the Professional-Rogue axis. You can see, relatively, how you’re trending. I just wish it was more obvious how this mattered.

I especially like the way the actions and skill checks come fairly unannounced. If you listen, there’s a clear signal chirp. But it’s not obvious when that’s going to happen. That makes it cool because it’s subtle. You have to pay attention.

There’s a lot of good music and sound effects. Every once in a while it drops in some incredibly cheesey pop stuff, but most of it is high quality, theatrical score.

Things that disappoint (includes spoilers)

There are these “encrypted disks” that you find all over the station. They might as well be called Scooby snacks for all the impact they seem to have on the game. I figure I probably found most all of them. All they appear to do is let you gradually trend towards Min or Amelia. Amelia even responds with silly ejaculations like “Score!” and “Boom!” when you given them to her. It doesn’t seem to make sense. It feels like literally a proxy for a popularity contest. Which competing influence do you vote for? To my knowledge nothing in the game changes if you give them all to one person. Of course, maybe you have to get ALL of them and give all of them to one person. Maybe I’ve missed some. I was expecting some “now that you’ve given me all the disks, I can tell XYZ…” I also expected a progress update of some kind. “Holiday, you seem to have found about half of them. If you get me 5 more, I think I can figure out blah blah blah”. They never seem to matter.

I found the plot hard to follow. I like that it doesn’t insult me with too much exposition and, like a good novel or film, it starts off in media res. But Holiday’s motivations are hard to understand. And the plot twists (to me anyway) don’t make a ton of sense. Sometimes the choices I made seemed irrelevant (deliver the next line snarky or petulantly—what?). And despite the deep moral questions opened by the decision to keep Valentina alive mechanically, the only real decision i got to make is whether I went along with it for personal or professional reasons.

I really like Crimson 09 as a character. I love her personality and some of the things she says like how infuriating it must be for a sentient computer to wait on slow meat to think. But a ruthless, power hungry computer could have accomplished her efforts so much more efficiently. Dispatch everyone except Amelia. Personally torture or use some other ruse to get Amelia to give up the codes. She’s a little cray-cray, so we can forgive a few eccentricities, but a computer would be much more ruthless and effective.

I feel like the things that really changed the game’s outcome were not the choices I made but skill checks that I failed. One time I didn’t stop Min in time and she nuked Guangzhou. Ok, that sorta sucked, and I managed to avoid that the second time through. But I ended up in the same ending, minus the nuked city, the second time through. There’s a time a guy throws a grenade and I have a split second to do something (catch it?). I don’t know what it is. I haven’t managed to do it yet. That’s cool that there’s stuff I can’t quite do. Having said that, given how late in the game that chance is, I’m probably only gonna get one more chance. I can’t see playing the game more than thrice.

Either I don’t know how to do different things, or they don’t influence the game as much as I think they should. The first time through I was Amelia-Professional. The second game I was Min-Rogue. I’m in the middle of an Amelia-Rogue game, but much seems the same. There’s a whole lot you have to sit through to get back to key decision points and try to get the game to go different ways.

It wasn’t until I played on “Girlfriend” difficulty that I figured out how the med kits worked. I never died on easy or normal mode. I also have no difficulty on most of the skill checks. I am not much of a gamer, but these were pretty easy. It annoys me that there are some skill checks you can’t screw up. You just have to keep doing them until you get them. I guess they allow you to earn proficiency points if you do it, and you don’t earn any if you take 5 tries.

The character seems to max out at level 9. Not sure if I’m seeing that right. But I swear, well before the end of my second game (on normal difficulty) I hit a max and didn’t advance any more even as I was defeating bad guys. Not sure I’ve got that right.

In summary

I think it’s fair to say that, despite the criticisms, I got my money’s worth and (more importantly) my time’s worth. It was worth the bit of money I spent and definitely an enjoyable way to pass some hours of my commute. It’s innovative and authentic. We want more games like this. Not just more in this franchise, but more in this mold.