The Descendant Episode One, referred to as The Descendant for short, is the first in a five episode game series. What piqued my interest about this game was not just the post-apocalyptic story, because that certainly helped, but also its episodic nature. While The Descendant starts off strong with great graphics and a strong story opener, it becomes a rather underwhelming game quite quickly.
The Descendant takes place during three distinct time periods. The first is focused in the past, before the end of the world, the second in the future-past, after the end of the world, and the third in the present. As the world transcended into chaos through climate change, starvation and war, 4000 people were selected to survive the end of the world. These people were cryogenically preserved in underground bunkers and centuries after the end of the world, the bunkers opened and the descendants came out to start the world anew. The story switches between two playable characters, a janitor named Mia from the past, whose job is to keep one of the bunkers, ARK-01, running smoothly, and Donnie from the future-past who is part of the search team chosen to find out why the 108 descendants in ARK-01 have yet to return to the surface. These two time periods are brought together through the narration of Donnie in the present. The story is actually pretty good, but being the first episode of the series I found it should have set up the rest of the series better than it did.
There is no question that the underdeveloped story is caused by the minimal amount of gameplay. As a strictly single player experience, with the story being the only game mode, The Descendant needed to give players more than 45 minutes of gameplay to become really interested in episode one, which of course is really the introduction to the rest of the game. If the game was amazing at every turn, I could see how the 45 minutes of gameplay would be enough to get everyone hooked, but at the end of this first episode of The Descendant I was questioning if I was even invested enough to buy the rest of the game.
“The story is actually pretty good, but being the first episode of the series I found it should have set up the rest of the series better than it did.”
While Gaming Corps AB kept the controls simple, as suggested by the point-click adventure genre, the movement often lagged and the camera did not follow the the third person movement properly, causing your character to walk into walls and corners. This became frustrating quickly because at times the camera would jump to a different view and you would be left to readjust. The worst part was if you adjusted too much, and the camera might jump to the previous view again. While the controls were easy to use and very simple, the faulty camera readjustment and lag made it hard to enjoy the simplicity.
Throughout The Descendant there are player interactions with the computer AI, specifically Randolph, a snotty senator seemingly useless throughout the 45 minutes of gameplay, who is paired with Donnie, and Silas, the physician janitor that helps Mia through her tasks. It is obvious that Randolph and Silas are placed strategically to lead us through the story and other than a few discussions, The Descendant is focused on the main character 90% of the time. The majority of the game is played with background noises, varying minimally, and the only time the sound really mattered was during the narration or character interactions. Besides the introduction to the game and Donnie’s narration, nothing would be greatly impacted if the sound was turned off. By the end of the first episode I was left wishing that there was more computer interaction and conversation, as well as some kind of badass music to really get into the mood of the story.
While there was nothing overly negative about the graphics, they were underwhelming. If there was a bit more detail, the graphics would have been a huge stand out feature for The Descendant; instead they were just plain unimpressive. Something I did find enjoyable about the graphics however, were the costumes given to the characters, as well as the realistic news reports in the beginning. Speaking of the beginning, there were also clipping issues. Thankfully this dissipated quickly, otherwise I might not have been able to get through the game without cussing up a storm every few minutes.
Overall, the decent story, characters and narration made the game satisfactory, as did the simple controls, but the lack of gameplay, underwhelming graphics, slow movement and lag impacted the enjoyability of The Descendant greatly. I’m torn between wanting to see if the game gets better in the other four episodes, and leaving my playing time where it is. The story may get better, but it is doubtful that the rest of the problems will disappear. With a great story premise and an underwhelming delivery, The Descendant is just plain disappointing.
***A PC review code was provided by the Publisher***
- Decent story, characters, and narration
- Simple controls
- Slow movement adjustment
- Short gameplay
- Underwhelming graphics