My imqhotbqh on INSOMNIA: The Ark

I was planning to leave a Steam review (actually first legit one not for achievements and challenges they throw at us during sales etc), but then realized it became pretty detailed wall of text, so i decided to make it into a blog post. I will still leave tl;dr version as a review later though, just to support the game, i really hope it will manage to stabilize in terms of reviews and get some positive exposure, that’s why i also decided it to post it without actually fully completing the game, while it’s still new and people didn’t just put a cross on it. Obviously some things require developers attention to fix too, otherwise probably fat no, but details in full version…

Review is written after 15 hours of game time and all the issues were present at the time i was last playing it 30th of September, can’t see any major patches yet though, so i suppose still there.

Let’s start with cons, especially since most of them are easy to fix:

  • Game still has tracking software from beta test that developers forgot to remove, which is sending your info to some 3rd party services to analyze configs etc, there was a warning about it on the beta, but not anymore, while software is still here. Dunno if devs actually forgot or what, but it should be removed completely, this is spyware and even warning isn’t enough, if you are honest about just forgetting you should just remove it asap.
  • Missing translation on some things, funny part that Russian people are also complaining about English in Russian version. Not critical for me since i know both languages, but considering game doesn’t use waypoints and you need to navigate yourself, not seeing English name of area might make it pretty hilarious.
  • Performance has issues, graphics is nothing special, but 1060 has like 10-20fps drops from 60 in some situations on ultra settings with reduced post-processing (actually makes it a lot better with no motion blur and all that jazz). Not a big deal for me, but looks worse on stream since these moments also lag OBS dropping frames of whole broadcast a bit.
  • Combat system could be amazing and has potential with all the rolls, sprint attacks, stamina systems, blocks, but no proper target lock and weird movement in combat kinda ruin it + melee doesn’t use stamina and you can spam attack button staggering enemies into oblivion and some enemies who don’t stagger have issues hitting in melee – killed power armor dude in prologue in melee without getting hit once. Not a big deal, since it’s still kinda fun, gunplay is also not perfect, but at least all this combat is not annoying for me personally and i also prefer using stealth where i can with executions (wish you could use it in more situations, but i also don’t have the stat high, maybe it will get better).
  • Sound design issues, like some walking NPC sounds like they are running, some annoying repeating environment sounds around NPCs with long dialogues or even stuck in cutscenes.
  • Bunch of minor things like NPCs becoming flashing and semi transparent, some items without stats/icons, one NPC had piece of code printed instead of word that should be picked according to character gender. Lot’s of small problems, some i can’t even remember right now, nothing gamebreaking though. Some UI and quality of life things can fall into this category too – minor inconvenience mostly.

Now pros:

  • Atmosphere in this game is amazing, i got 10 hours from my current counter in one day and one go and i couldn’t stop, mostly because of the atmosphere. Strong Fallout vibes even in OST, it’s hard to put a finger on it and describe in details what creates these vibes, but it just does, even though games are completely different.
  • Story is intriguing and original, together with the atmosphere keep me playing and ignoring some negative moments about the game. Writing is pretty good and when you already think you know the “message” that game is supposed to deliver it all gets a new turn and gets another layer on top of it.
  • Mini-games for hacking, lockpicking and other skills are pretty good and pretty original or at least have some original fresh approach.
  • OST is amazing (mind some issues i mentioned about sound design in cons, but nothing about OST is bad really i think), some tracks give me vibes of some Fallout 1 and 2 cities, others are just nice and overall it’s mostly pretty chill and not annoying, just nice background music to “finish” the atmosphere.
  • Loot system is pretty satisfying, seeing pictures of all the garbage you are stocking and reading pretty detailed descriptions too, small details that are making big picture a lot more immersive. Crafting with looking for blueprints and disassembling garbage is pretty nice too.
  • Character system, items with stats, items with effects, hunger and thirst, all that is also pretty nice, could be better, but it’s decent, at least it’s not bad.
  • Game has no waypoints, but gives clear directions, you just need to check your journal and listen to dialogues, which is probably the best way to handle it. I hate when game is too cryptic and you need to look for things way too much, especially when you don’t even have any hints, in the same time waypoints are just too plain easy (but not bad though, i’m kinda neutral about it actually and it helps me in current meta where all games have them).
  • Price! Game is like 10$ with Russian price, should be 20-25$ international, pretty good offer with 10% discount atm and if you buy right now you get deluxe edition for free (OST for free and OST is really good!).
  • Russian developers. A little bit of patriotism is still alive with me and we also had a great gamedev “school” back in a day here, probably why some studios like Larian (Divinity developers) open their offices here too, but majority of our local development lately was about browser, mobile and social network “gaming” based on milking money rather than creating something amazing. Glad we are getting more and more indie studios with amazing games and success of every game moves our market further, closer to greatness, maybe there is next Katauri Interactive potentially growing up from seeds all these games might fertilize with income.

I might forget something and will probably add it later, also maybe will edit some fixed things too, at least stuff they will fix while i’m still playing.

So what’s my verdict so far? Well, i can tell you one thing – i’m actually looking forward to start the stream and to get to playing this game, like i’m really craving more of this game and on stream too, because i like how it feels in terms of streaming, it’s hard to explain, it’s more subconscious irrational combination of many factors including my personal experience and how i see chat experiencing it. That is actually surprisingly quite rare to have a game like this for me with my smol streaming experience so far, especially after i put 15 hours into it already. It is mostly story and atmosphere carrying everything for me though, so i can’t guarantee everyone will get the same experience as i’m getting, but if you like story RPGs, like Fallout atmosphere, like diesel-punk and don’t mind some janky gameplay for such a good price, then this game should deliver.

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