Developer: Носков Сергей
Publisher: Носков Сергей
Released For: PC (Windows)
Reviewing: PC (Windows)
DRM Versions Available
Released On: May 27th, 2016
MSRP: $12.99 Steam Link
35mm is a story set in a post-apocalyptic Russia, following the journey of two people as they travel through the surprisingly populated wasteland. After an epidemic killed off most of the world’s population, it’s up to our two main heroes to do bugger all in this not-so-epic apocalyptic road trip of glitches, dodgy English translations, and a disappointingly flat and dull story to accompany the walking speed only a turtle could find acceptable. Do you like holding down the sprint button for the entirety of the game just so you walk at a normal pace? Well, enjoy that.
As for gameplay, it’s tedious. The main premise is that the player walks around in what could only be described at ‘turtle speed’ in a post-apocalyptic environment while occasionally doing a tedious objective in order to get from point A, to point B while you escort your friend around. Exploration while present is kept to a bare minimum, and the game’s constant and aggravating invisible walls that have no place being in a game about exploration are more than happy to remind the player of such. During the segments where you interact with the environment, it’s often unclear what the player should do or how to do it. The world’s lack of feedback when players complete objectives (especially when the game asks you to go find something) is clearly evident and a hindrance during gameplay. As for the survival elements, they’re barely visible. If you read the game’s title and saw the fact that the character has a camera, one would assume this means the camera is some big huge plot device or is important to the game in some aspect.
Whelp, you’d be wrong. The camera serves almost no purpose, the pictures you take or can take freely do absolutely nothing, and (just like all the other things the player has) served almost zero purpose during our time with the game. Speaking of the other things the player has, that includes (eventually) a knife, axe, pistol, and what appears to be an AK-47. The knife can be used to open all of three doors during the entire game, the axe can break down all of three or four predetermined doors, the pistol is used once and you’ll never find ammo for the thing again, and the AK-47 is used twice.
There’s also the story and ‘choices’ to mention. The story is a journey of two people who have a contrived backstory with contrived plot points, all put together in a contrived plothole ridden soup. This could be because of the rather lackluster English subtitles that somehow managed to make the already dull story somehow both dull and aggravating to understand. If the player has to translate your translations, they aren’t good translations. One may argue the road and journey are where the interest lies, but half our time in the journey was just spent figuring out what the game expected us to do. We won’t spoil the story itself but (for time’s sake) it’s neither unique nor interesting enough to bore through three plus hours of boring dialogue, terrible translations, and a poor excuse for a story. There are some moments in the game’s story that could have had a nice and emotional impact. That is, they could have held a nice emotional impact if the game’s glitches didn’t get in the way to immediately ruin them in their entirety. It’s hard to be scared of a bear after all when it’s glitching through the floor, and it’s difficult to sympathize or take a character’s rhetoric seriously while they’re spinning in a circle. The most engaged we found ourselves in the game was finishing a child’s puzzle for him which would have been far more somber and memorable had the puzzle pieces not had flickering textures if you misplaced a piece.
As for the choice system, it’s boring and barely exists. The player has a series of (almost random) choices he can make which (somehow) affect certain segments of gameplay. The choices are almost random, and offer almost zero direct correlation between it and the result, making them both pointless and obsolete.
Visually, 35mm isn’t the worst thing we’ve ever seen. However, (graphical glitches aside) it’s certainly not groundbreaking for the year it’s released in. It’s somewhere in terms of texture quality lower than Kona, but higher than something like Dear Esther. However in terms of visual fidelity, it lacks the visual cohesion something like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter offers. It has a nice sense of atmosphere in certain areas, but it really loses that in locations like the metro and end game area. Some areas have interesting aesthetically pleasing views like the forest bits, but those are few and far between.
As for audio and ambiance, it’s ‘alright’. The music itself is only available when the radio plays. Other than that, you get nothing but the sounds of forest ambiance and what not to keep the player company. While the ambiance is well done in the forest sections, it loses it’s effect during most of the other gameplay segments.
The controls are the most barebones set of controls you can have. Each ‘weapon’ is auto-assigned to a number, your inventory is ‘TAB’, the flashlight is ‘F’, et cetera. However, the controls aren’t rebindable in any way and (as a result) just makes the key layout rather dismal. The is a game that needs controller support. Without controller support, it makes the whole game a rather tedious chore. Coupled with the fact that you need to constantly run everywhere due to the walking speed being no faster than a small tortoise, makes the game rather ‘slow’, coupling with the ‘slow’ feeling of the game itself.
As for settings and options, they’re rather dull. While you do have some barebones options for quality, it’s all rather lackluster. If you speak English, prepare to deal with the lackluster subtitles mentioned previously. It also offers a way to remove motion blur and head bobbing, but (regardless of the fact that we turned it off) both were still somewhat present in the game from our testing. The game also had several random lag spikes, mostly in the latter half of the game.
Overall, we wish we could say we had fun with the game and enjoyed the linear, narrative experience. The graphical fidelity and ambiance are both alright and the voice acting seems well enough, but nothing really holds any cohesion or meaning to it all. In the end, 35mm has the bones of a decent narrative experience, but lacks the glue to hold it all together and the in-depth and thought-provoking story to keep players interested. The story may be far smarter than it claims to be, but that all gets lost in the extremely poor English translation and lack of any real cohesion between gameplay and story segments. It feels rather messy and while having some nice ideas, 35mm fails to execute them in a meaningful way. Even if we remove the extremely poor and atrocious subtitles, we’re still left with a game that isn’t able to deliver and follow through on its ideas in a cohesive and worthwhile fashion. Between it’s dodgy translation, plot-hole filled story (which we’re sure the translation is hurting even more), slow movements and the tedious and unrewarding gameplay, we simply cannot suggest this game as it is currently. This game tried to carry a basket of eggs worth of ideas and story concepts, and instead threw the basket at our face in place for two characters with about as much personality as two cardboard boxes with some scribbles stapled on the side attempting to pass for depth and emotional intrigue.
We left a video review of our’s for the game at the end if that’s your thing.
- Ambiance during certain parts of the game is well done
- The sound effects are well presented, adding to the games’ atmosphere
- Needs more graphical sliders
- Survival elements (while there) are barely present, and should either be improved or removed in their entirety
- Atrocious English subtitles
- The choice system is terribly flat
- The story is dull and both characters lack any real character arc
- Level design lacks that level of exploration the game needs to make the world feel bigger
- the ‘combat’ is sluggish and feels tacked on.