Proper execution will always trump content even if the content has been cobbled together from other games or sources. Phantaruk mixes elements of System Shock, the Resident Evil & Alien Franchises, heavy doses of Dead Space, and more too numerous to mention. The game could come off as derivative yet adds unique elements. The team at Polyslash have crafted something which still feels fresh.
The premise of the game is as follows, you board the spaceship Purity 02 which is owned by the H+ Corporation. H+ is seeking to improve on the human species and to the end have been actively engaged in marrying the organic and synthetic to achieve that goal. As you set foot on the Purity 02, you quickly learned its name is ill-chosen as things have gotten badly out of hand.
The Purity 02 is a ghost ship. Almost. All the crew is dead or seems so with the exception of one being. Or a monster. Your goal is now survival but to do so you must travel into the heart of the ship to procure your escape. You have no weapons and the clock is running because not only is there a monster to contend with but the ship is infected with a parasite that releases a deadly toxin. You must constantly find serums to reverse the toxic effects of the parasite. Failure to do so will result in a fate worse than death.
“Clinging to the shadows and moving stealthily are your best options.”
You learn through journals that Phantaruk is a reference to a god based on an amalgamation of beliefs. It is very likely that the monster roaming the corridors of Purity 02 is the physical embodiment of those legends. You must traverse unfamiliar territory avoiding the monster as you have no weapons, fix what needs to be fixed to affect your escape, and do all this while keeping the toxins from overcoming you.
Where Phantaruk shines is in the technical aspects. In the six level preview I played the audio and visual presentation is top notch. This is one of those headphone games where you want to pick up every audio cue possible to avoid the creature. Along with the creature noises like its bellows breathing and thudding footsteps, the game throws a variety of ambient ship noises at you as well – lights buzz, ventilation hums, doors creak, parts clang and lighting waxes and wanes. Sound echoes make it difficult to pinpoint their location. Clinging to the shadows and moving stealthily are your best options. Much like the Thief games you have a visibility indicator that shows you how exposed you are to detection.
You don a hazmat suit a la Half Life – those franchise hits keep on coming – and have obligatory Biometric readouts as well as inventory screens to help you out. One frustration was the inability to pick up weapons even though heavy pipe wrenches can be found in tantalizing abundance. Perhaps intentional to add to the tension but a tad annoying to say the least.
Lighting plays a big part as does the search for batteries to power your flashlight. Judicious use of your flashlight is well advised as the game becomes correspondingly more difficult the dimmer your flashlight gets. The visuals are lovely and the Purity 02 really feels like a spaceship as you make your way down corridors and through ventilation shafts.
Either I missed it or maybe it’s a design decision but there does not seem to be any form of mapping which makes determining where to go very difficult. During my play of the preview, I did not encounter any technical issues but have seen feedback about poor optimization from other Beta players. The game is scheduled for release on Steam on August 16th with possible releases on other platforms down the road.
If you are into SF/horror survival type game experiences, keep an eye out for Phantaruk. So far it is looking like a winner.
*** PC code provided by the publisher ***