Alekhine's Gun Review - It All Falls Down

I'm a big fan of stealth video games. At their core, it's extremely interesting that, unlike a big portion of the industry, these games are not focused on the graphic, gory act of killing. As a matter of fact, they're all about cleverly avoiding your foes. That's why I'm happy the genre is in such a healthy place. We're getting huge, gorgeous AAA espionage games like Metal Gear Solid V, and smaller, creative indie experiences like Volume and Hitman:Go. I wasn't sure where Alekhine's Gun would fit on the spectrum, and my conclusion is that it doesn't; this is a game with noble intentions, but mediocre execution.

So what is Alekhine's Gun all about? Well, it's a third-person-stealth game, set during the Cold War. You're put in the shoes of KGB colonel turned CIA spy, Agent Alekhine, as he finds himself tangled in a conspiracy that could have global consequences. It's up to you to take down your enemies and save the world.

Before we begin talking about the many things Alekhine's Gun gets wrong, let's talk about the few things it gets right. I'm yet to find a game with no positive aspects to it, and this one is not the exception.

Alekhine's Gun biggest asset is most definitely its setting. It's so refreshing for a video game to take place during the Cold War. Going in, the setting had me 10 times more interested than if it took place in a rather futuristic time like, let’s say, 2687. And props to the developer, because it takes advantage of its eye catching scenery. Your missions transpire in a variety of fun, open world environments. A German castle, a Chinese club, a fancy hotel. They all look different, and most of them are full of details like posters, pictures and Nazi propaganda. It's just too bad that these environments are not really easy on the eyes.

Indeed, Alekhani's Gun is not a pretty game. I wouldn't say it's horrendous, but it clearly doesn't look like a $50 game (on PSN). While it manages to seem decent indoors, you really comprehend how bad it looks when you step outside. The lighting system is outdated, textures look bland, and the color palette is super boring. Also, it runs like hell! I'm not the guy that will tell the difference between 60 frames-per-second and 50, but you don't have to be a genius to notice the game slowing down to critical levels. There are also weird glitches;elevator doors disappearing, characters going through walls and getting stuck in corners. To put it bluntly: there are PlayStation 3 games that look and play better that this. Some of these issues wouldn't be as noteworthy if the game was $20 or $30. But when you're charging full price, I expect you to deliver a fully working product. Simple as that.

Back to some of the positives, I truly believe Alekhine's Gun has solid gameplay. Let's be honest here: it's basically a Hitman clone. Infiltrating buildings, neutralising enemies and stealing their outfits to access different parts of the structure and complete your objectives. However, just like Hitman, it can be fun. While the takedown animations are clunky, they get the job done. Shooting mechanics are surprisingly fluid. And plotting the perfect run can be quite captivating (when you're not being monitored by a countless amount of NPCs). Every now and then, it all comes together, and you can have a blast while playing the game. Sadly, there's a tremendous sense that you're executing these missions for no rhyme or reason, because you don't really care about the story.

Seriously, this game has some of the laziest storytelling I've seen in a long time. Let's start with the cutscenes. For some unknown reason, there are no cutscenes. Instead, the story is told through black and white drawings, with the character's voices over them. This didn't make sense to me, and the more I think about it, the more I believe it was a last minute decision. The game's been delayed a couple of times, and it's possible they decided to go with these drawing because the in-engine cinematics didn't look up to par. Well, that was a bad decision. The drawing don't do a good job at telling you the story, and you don't see emotion from any of the characters. Voice acting is also atrocious. Specially the character you play as (Semyon Strogov). Most of the lines are delivered in a dead, monotonous tone. If the character don't seem to care about what's going on, why should I?

Lastly, I want to discuss what easily ended up being the most frustrating part of the game; the lack of checkpoints. Seriously, how can a 2016 game lack checkpoints? It's outrageous! "Why?", you might ask. Because it leads to many other problems. First off, it pulls you away from the experience. Once you learn the game has no checkpoints, you start saving before and after doing anything even remotely significant. This breaks the immersion and adds an unnecessary task. And of course, you could have an infuriating experience like mine. I won't lie to you: I did not finish the game. Alekhine's Gun has eleven levels. During the 7th level, I was actually having fun. So about halfway through the mission, I forgot to save. I finished the mission, and three-quarters through the 8th level, I ended up dying. That's when I found out the game doesn't even save in-between missions! I was livid, as the last 40 minutes of my life served no purpose. I was done. I tapped out, turned off my PS4, and started watching The Walking Dead.

Verdict: Alekhine's gun is an ambitious game. Its interesting setting and solid gameplay occasionally make it fun . However, the lackluster visuals, lazy storytelling, lack of checkpoints, and high price keeps me from recommending you to buy this one.

The Good
- Interesting Setting
- Solid Gameplay

The Bad
- Lackluster Visuals
- Lazy Storytelling
- Lack of Checkpoints
- High Price

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