Creators are always striving to tell new and original stories, and a unique concept is often quite hard to come across. Though the concept of posthumous mind uploading isn’t anything new, the idea of a central cloud where people are stored, reliving their memories endlessly and occasionally getting in touch with their friends and family, is a great basis to have for a story.
And it’s one that creates an opportunity for Wales Interactive to create a sci-fi horror that isn’t yet another Slender or Amnesia clone but something more unique – with plenty of smart puzzle elements and spooky sections.
The concept itself really raises some interesting questions – if it’s just your memories along with some stats being uploaded, it’s not really you in the Soul Cloud, is it? – and there’s a brilliant chance for them to explore the very nature of the human instinct of survival, death and cloning here.
Unfortunately, the game doesn’t address these questions too well, focusing more on the narrative at hand, fleshing out the backstory of the Soul Cloud through playable memories and collectables, rather than questioning the execution of it. That’s fine – maybe they could only really go one way with it – but it’s just a shame that the game itself isn’t really anything special.
Essentially, the protagonist – we won’t say who as that might spoil the experience – finds themselves in this Soul Cloud, without much idea of how or why they got there. They enter their own city – essentially the hub – and revisit twisted versions of moments in their life, which are often twisted into odd locations, filled with puzzles and creepy creatures resembling Little Sisters from BioShock.
It really starts out as a puzzle game, which is very neatly done, and while none of the puzzles or horror elements are groundbreaking (there’s still the “collect X things to progress” of Slender), there are some good challenges which match the enigmatic nature of the plot with the mystery and puzzlement you’ll find.
Slowly, the game evolves into more of a horror and, as that happens, the plot unravels and you truly understand the mysteries and intricacies of the Soul Cloud and what’s behind Master Reboot. It’s a nice sense of progression, but will never blow you away.
In fact, that’s the thing about Master Reboot: none of it will ever blow you away, and almost every concept feels tired rather than unique and fresh.
While the visuals are hardly the most refined aspect of the game, there’s certainly a unique style which is very blocky, with little change in the colours on objects. It’s odd how it’s so perfect at times, yet quite bland at other points. The music however is always suitably ambient and tense when it wants to be, never feeling out of place like other elements of the game.
You’ve really got to appreciate their attempts, though. While it may not be the greatest game, nor the greatest story ever told, there’s the basis for something really great here. That’s even though it does borrow heavily from Portal, BioShock, Slender and the like in terms of gameplay, and then doesn’t quite live up to any one of those in its execution.
Master Reboot could’ve been something really special – it certainly looked it from the trailer and concept. If it had brought something new to both puzzle and horror, while exploring the ideas of death and mind uploading rather than simply using them as a framing device, Wales Interactive would’ve been onto something quite incredible.
It’s a good mixture of okay ideas, achieved through some nice presentation and a stellar idea at its heart, which makes it worthwhile if you’re really interested in that, but perhaps a reboot is required to do it justice.