Cell: emergence

Cell: emergence costs $5 on Xbox Live Indie Games.  That’s 400 Microsoft Points.  That’s the cost of some pretty good Xbox Live Arcade Games.  What does it get you here?  An obviously unfinished piece of shit with horrible graphics, busted play control, and antiquated gameplay.  What a bargain.

"What did I tell you about licking toads?"

The story revolves around a child being infected with some kind of mystery illness.  Instead of doing the sensible thing, IE calling Dr. House, you inject the kid with some kind of computerized yellow beam shooting thingie to fight off the disease.  At this point, the game starts and things go downhill faster than a soapbox derby racer powered by a jet engine.  The first level starts with a screen of purple voxel gunk.  You’re not given any real instructions other than A shoots and Y zooms in.  I wasn’t sure if the purple stuff was good or bad, and the game doesn’t explain this.  Or anything, really.

Well, the purple stuff started multiplying fast, which clued me in that it might be a bad thing.  So, I started shooting.  However, waiting a couple of seconds proved to be too long, as the purple stuff quickly overran the screen and the child died.  That’s Obamacare for you.  Once I was able to restart the stage, I started firing right away and cleared it in approximately three seconds.  The second stage was basically more of the same “shoot the gunk” type of stuff, and this time I earned my medical degree in Voxelgunkology and cleared everything in about five seconds.  I was starting to think Cell: emergence was trying to be a Wario Ware clone, only instead of a new game loading up every second, it loaded up every three minutes.

That all changed on the third stage.  A purplish ball that I guessed was a tumor was present in a white cylindrical shaft.  The only instruction given was “Shoot membrane to assist antibody diffusion (projectiles coat membranes with prion gel).”  What the fuck does that mean?  The game doesn’t tell you what exactly the membrane is, or what the antibodys look like, or what prion gel does.  It took me several rounds of failure before I realized that it meant shooting the walls, ignoring the tumor-thingie, and watching some little flickery spark thingies dance around.  I guess those were the gel.  After a few minutes, I actually thought I failed the level, seeings how most of the stage had still been obliterated.  Instead, I had won and was moved to the next stage.  Sure, the kid would have been bleeding internally, but I’m a glass is half-full type of gal.  That vein wasn’t 96% dead.  It was 4% functional!

The next level is where I gave up.  It was another “shoot the wall” level, only this time there were germs flying in.  Once again, the only instructions given were vague.  “NEW ENEMY: Germ is invulnerable to all known weaponry. Defend membrane and observe.”  What.  The.  Filth.  Well, I decided I’m obviously supposed to lube up my membrane, so I started firing on it.  And then the biggest problem suddenly became apparent: there is no visual indication of what wall has been “protected” and what one has not.  The “membrane” doesn’t change colors.  A orange-red streak does go through it, but it fades out, and the game doesn’t give off any indication of whether it’s a positive thing or not.  Red is usually a sign that something has gone wrong, and the enemies, or germs, are in fact represented by simple red dots.  I spent about a dozen rounds firing on the surface, adjusting the angle I shot from, and it still didn’t matter.  I continuously died, or rather the little kid did.  You know what, fuck you kid.  It’s your mom’s fault for letting some strange “doctor” (for all she knows it’s drug dealer trying to hook the boy on smack) inject you with a needle full of God knows what instead of taking you to the emergency room.

If you think this screenshot is baffling, just wait until you actually play the fucking thing.

In case you couldn’t tell, I fucking hated Cell: emergence, so much so that I can pull out the not-at-all-hyperbolic “new worst game I’ve played on Xbox Live Indie Games” title for it.  It’s that bad.  The graphics are horrible.  The camera is unmanageable.  It’s not so much a game as it is a proof-of-concept demo for 3D gaming.  Which would be fine, if this was 1992.  I’ve played games on XBLIG that felt this way before.  UnBound for example.  But at least they had the decency to only charge a buck for them.  Cell: emergence costs five bucks.  400MSP that can get you five extremely awesome titles, and the guys behind Cell: emergence expect you to instead spend it on their obviously unfinished game.  That takes a lot of nerve.  The hubris on display here is sickening.

Cell would be boring even if you knew what was going on.  It’s a glorified gallery shooter, only the graphics are indistinguishable blobs of digital vomit.  Hell, the shit you shot at in Space Invaders, a game that is thirty-four years old, actually look like things.  Nothing looks like anything in Cell.  The lack of direction given to a player is irrelevant.  The way things were going, the child is just as likely to get bored to death.  The syringe might as well have been full of air for all the good it does him, and that would have been way more humane.

Cell: emergence was developed by New Life Interactive

400 Microsoft Points took two aspirin and called me in the morning in the making of this review. 

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

12 Responses to Cell: emergence

  1. How can you not love this?! I’ve been waiting years for a good guesswork-wall-shooter to come out on Xbox Live, and now finally Cell: Emergence comes out to fulfill all my confusing futility needs.

  2. Tim says:

    I’m glad I read this Cos I nearly bought this game but the 400 MSP put me off now this review has finished me off. It’s a NO buy from me.

    • Starglider says:

      Surely you would have tried the demo before buying?

      It’s a shame, sounds like another XBLIG with a neat trailer that just doesn’t really work as a game. I get a sort of ‘biology undergrad making a game to keep their spirits up in between cramming for exams’ vibe from it.

  3. I feel a bit bad for Cell. I sincerely believe that someone on the ideas/concept side of things put a lot of effort in. But someone involved in execution let the whole thing down. Such a waste.

  4. I couldn’t figure out what to do in the 8 minute demo so it got sent to the xblig graveyard

  5. plezfiction says:

    I watched a youtube video from NewLifeInteractive trying to explain the game mechanics but haven’t tried the demo yet. My main problem with it is that it’s described as an “experimental game” but they want 400MSP / $5 for it. How about making it $1 (or free on PC) and THEN figuring out what works and what doesn’t for later improvements?

    Here it’s like you get to pay to beta test it.

  6. JazFusion says:

    Why does the ambulance look like a pimpmobile?

  7. withalligators says:

    So…that’s not Dr. House licking his finger in the trailer there?

  8. Pingback: SpaceFighter4000 Training « Indie Gamer Chick

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