Title: Floor 13: Deep State
Developer: Oversight Productions
Publisher: Humble Games
Genre: Noir Point & Click Adventure
Available On: PC
Official Site: floor13.com
Release Date: November 2, 2020
Where to Buy it: Steam Store
To this day, I am absolutely fascinated by thrillers. No matter what form, no other genre has me on my seat more. It’s easily why shows like Mr. Robot remain among some of my favorites. That and, well, Mr. Robot is a beautiful show regardless. That’s a story for another time though. That genre is what drew me towards Floor 13: Deep State, a recently released noir thriller from Humble Games. This dystopian thriller has you putting an end to the free will of the people, keeping the look of the government in check while quelling any who stand in your way. This style of game, which mimics the form of Papers, Please, can be challenging to pull off if not done correctly though.
Unfortunately, Floor 13 fails to hit this mark and only ends up being a confusing mess. Let me explain. The gameplay of Floor 13: Deep State is quite simple. You go into an office where you’re given a list of reports along with suspects to act on. Whoever you choose has several options for looking into their affairs and dealing with them. You can simply survey when they leave/come home, or you could go as extreme as assaulting their residence.
Floor 13’s Restrictive Nightmare
This can work well, but Floor 13 gridlocks you into such specific choices that you spend more time failing than playing. In one run of mine, for example, I used a fair amount of my resources to investigate suspicious people. The game then told me I was making no progress and to use more resources. I proceeded to use more resources, only the next day to be told that I need to be more discreet and not as forward with my choices. With all the choices laid out in front of you, that isn’t entirely possible. You’re only given a few options with some of those being redundant. Why would you run surveillance on someone entering and leaving their home when pursuing them does so and more? There are also restricted options on some locations, giving you the choice of surveying or just assaulting the place, and that’s it.
It’s things like these that ultimately make Floor 13: Deep State’s noir adventures incredibly frustrating. You’re left fighting with the game’s systems, unsure of if you’re doing the right thing until you’ve reached the failure ending. While I understand games like these have to be somewhat unforgiving, failing to give any guidance on how you want the player to play the game makes it pointless. No one wants to sit here running through a procedurally generated scenario seven different times until they finally do exactly what the game wants, only to repeat the process. If I’m being brutally honest, I would’ve refunded this game an hour in had I spent money on the game.
Strange Consequences With a Hint of Noir
Another minor but harmful issue is how Floor 13 shows the consequences of your actions. The tutorial mission of the game has you working to stop a bomb threat and if you fail, you can guess what happens. All you get though is a piece of paper telling you this happened in a sentence or two. I get where the developers were going with this, but it ultimately feels lazy and unimpactful. You’re left not caring about any of the events throughout Floor 13 because you don’t feel the stakes at hand. Your consequence is either being told what happens or having to restart the game entirely.
For all that Floor 13: Deep State gets wrong though, there is one area that it thankfully nails. That’s its atmosphere, accurately thrusting you into this dystopian 80’s vibe where you’re the evil at hand. This is done through a particular art style that blends regular soft color tones with a slight blur. That might not sound great, but it ultimately helps to set the tone well. The same goes with audio design, having 1900s noir detective music ripped straight out of old films. It all helps to set Floor 13 apart from other titles, even if the execution of everything outside of this isn’t great.
And finally, as I like to do with all my reviews, I’d like to talk about options and accessibility. For Floor 13: Deep State, it might as well be non-existent. Your only settings lie in volume and that’s it. While accessibility is fine outside of language due to the game’s context, I would’ve loved to see a host of graphical improvements. Anything from texture quality to shading would help some higher-end PCs take advantage of higher fidelity, but thankfully you won’t notice this too much.
Verdict: Floor 13: Deep State thrusts you into a unique atmosphere that fits the game’s tone well. There’s some interesting art, along with tunes ripped straight out of noir films. When it comes to playing the game though, there isn’t much enjoyable gameplay on offer. You get little guidance on what you’re supposed to do, while simultaneously needing to be perfect to progress. Along with your consequences having no impact, there really isn’t much to love in the gameplay. While this is a game I would love to enjoy, Floor 13 offers so little that I doubt even hardcore fans would be able to enjoy this.
Floor 13: Deep State Review
- Interesting premise
- Good atmosphere
- Zero player choice
- Limited options
- Lack of consequence
- Poorly designed systems
- Barebones options menu