Volume PS4/PS Vita Review

I love where the videogame industry is at right now. Every week, we literally get dozens of games made from all over the world. Games that vary in budget, genre and price. One thing I don't like, is the fact that indie games are still seen as AAA's baby brother. And the sad truth is that, with so many AAA's coming out this year (Fallout 4, MGS V, Until Dawn, COD, Just Cause 3, etc.), a lot of smaller, independent games will not get the love they deserve. Well... I'm here to make sure that you don't skip out on Volume. This game deserves to be played.

Volume is a stealth-based video game developed by Mike Bithell, creator of Thomas Was Alone. The game uses certain stealth mechanics inspired by the original Metal Gear Solid. Every level feels like a stealth puzzle: you're put in a room, and you have to collect gems without being detected by your enemies. You have to do all of this as fast as you can, because every level counts the amount of seconds it takes you to reach the end. As you might expect, things escalate quickly and levels become more and more challenging. I've seen people complain about the fact that every level has 3 or 4 checkpoints. I had no problem with it. There's a difference between a game being challenging, and a game being annoyingly difficult. This game is challenging, but fair.

If I had to describe this game in 2 words, I would use "simple" and "fun". Volume has a minimalist approach. However, minimalist doesn't always mean bad. In Volume, it means awesome. Controls are simple, but super responsive. The game did exactly what I wanted it to do 99% of the time.  Gadgets are also pretty cool. While they all do similar things, they all feel unique. That right there is called "Good game design".

Other aspects of the game are noncomplex, but they're still great. At first glance, you could say all the stages look the same. But they don't. They change in shape, color and design, making them all feel fresh. Enemies also look basic, but there's plenty of variety. Other than the regular bad guys, you'll encounter snipers, dogs and more. Talking about enemies, I appreciated the fact that they never broke their rules. Whenever I got caught, I knew it was my fault. I never felt cheated. The point I'm trying to make is: A lot aspects of Volume look simple. And to be fair, they might be. But when every aspect of the game works perfectly, you start to wonder if more games should take this simple, straightforward approach.

Oh yeah, Volume is also a blast to play. As I said before, gameplay wise this game is excellent. However, that's not the only reason why this game is so much fun. The other reason is that the game is full of meta humour. It's all over the place. There's a room directly inspired by pac-man, dialogue that reminds us of Metal Gear Solid and a rapper who shows up to spit a "hot 16". I love 4th wall breaking, and Volume scratches that itch perfectly.

My only issue with the game comes with the story. Let me be clear: I think the story is fantastic! I was extremely invested in it. A modern take on the Robin Hood novel, in which you play as a thief simulating high-profile crimes across the Internet so he can stop the evil CEO of a company that has taken over England. It's original, interesting and fun. What I didn't like is how the story moves forward.

Every time you start a level, the two main characters engage in these interesting conversations about who they are, what they're doing and their objectives. However, these conversations take place while you're playing the level, meaning that you have two options: you either play the game while the conversations take place (which takes away the focus from the story), or you focus on the conversation without playing the game (which makes you get a bad completion time at the end). I really wish the game had separate sections for the story, so I could dive in it without worrying about finishing a level as fast as I can.

Also, the game has a crazy amount of content. Once you're done with the 100 levels, you can create your own set of levels, customize your characters, or get a better time in the levels you already played. And yes, this game will feel great on Vita. Luckily, its version is coming out in a few weeks, with full cross-buy and cross-save support.

Verdict: Volume is Mike Bithell's best game. It is challenging, but fair. Simple, but fun. It's also original, and full of variety and content. And while an issue or two keep it from perfection, it's a blast to play. Now, I strongly advice you to stop reading this review and go buy the game.

The Good
- Challenging, but fair
- Simple, but fun
- Tons of content
- Variety in enemies and stages
- 4th wall breaking/Meta jokes
- Interesting Story

The Bad
- Story/Game get in each other's way

Score: 8.5/10

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