“This thing must weigh more than fifty kilos,” the night watchman that I am playing as whines, serving as the game’s excuse for him to just constantly drop an object a couple of seconds after picking it up. To solve the puzzle I was on, all I had to do was get two heavy containers of an element, ununoctium to be specific, and drop them on to a hanging table. This was way more challenging than it sounds, as is anything in first-person adventure game Albedo: Eyes From Outer Space. By this point, I had already glitched the game, so my character had a third arm growing out of the right side of the screen, and a few minutes later another container of ununoctium missed the table and fell through the world, leaving me unable to solve the puzzle without reloading a save. This should set the tone for the rest of this review.
In Albedo you play as a night watchman at a research facility. As they’re closing up for the day, there’s an explosion that knocks the watchman into the basement, and the facility is overrun by strange eyeball aliens. Now, you must figure out how to get rid of the aliens, exploring the facility in the process. While the plot and general design are based on 60’s schlock sci-fi movies, there’s very little plot here. Most of the game is just advancing from area to area with vague “here’s where I am now” comments from the main character. The few times there are cutscenes they rarely actually move the story along much, usually instead just having the main character make comments on things in the room. By the end, all you need to know is “there are aliens, and you need to stop them,” which is good enough.
When it comes to playing Albedo, it means fighting some strangely obtuse controls and design decisions. Albedo is an adventure game, which means you’ll be spending time picking up objects and interacting with them or combining them with other objects. Once you’ve grabbed an object you can use the d-pad to select what you want to do with the object, and square to actually do that option, something that’s already rather clunky. Once you use an action, the order that the list was in changes so that whatever action you selected is now at the front of the list, thus completely throwing you off if you needed more than one action with an item. Strange design decisions like that constantly plague the game. Want to combine an item you’re holding with an item in your inventory? First you need to find and select the “use with” item, open up your inventory, choose the item you want to combine with, and then press down on the d-pad four times. Why four times? Well once selects the item, the next two move the item you’re going to combine a little closer to the center of the screen, and then the fourth time combines the items. No I don’t know why that middle section exists.
You’ll have to go through some incredibly frustrating puzzles as you play the game. One, for example, requires finding several items, fixing a headlamp, and filling a glove with oxygen all while running around an area and avoiding an invincible enemy. You can throw snails to distract the enemy, but anytime you try to fix the headlamp the enemy respawns, causing it to attack you once again. Another requires navigating the obtuse menu from before to rotate a pipe underwater so you can free it from some other pipes, this one being frustrating as the menu constantly prevents me from getting the puzzle done quickly before drowning. One part, which is less puzzle and more extended quick time event, saw me trying to climb out of a monster’s stomach. This just led to an extremely awkward segment where I had to use the triggers as my character’s hands, but getting him to reach for the teeth to climb out was a tricky affair. The strange refusal of my game to show the prompts to grab anything was frustrating, and it forced me to play around with the camera until I could get it.
There is also combat in Albedo, and it’s equally terrible. You can use a few items in the game to swing at enemies, with “fight” being yet another option on that awful menu. The game attempts to be helpful by automatically switching the choice to “fight” anytime you highlight an enemy, but it also will change to “throw” once the enemy is far enough away. For some reason every attack used knocks the enemy back quite a bit, leading to several fights where I was caught off guard by the game suddenly selecting the “throw” command for me and I got to watch as my weapon sailed across the room at a target that just left my crosshairs. Late in the game, I got a shotgun, but by then it’s basically “too little too late” as its used for maybe all of three fights. Even then, the shotgun is annoying. The ammo doesn’t track correctly (I’m still trying to figure out if it uses one or two rounds when it reloads), and both aiming and firing is clunky.
It doesn’t help that I kept running into glitches as well. As I mentioned in the intro, one part saw my character get a third arm stuck coming out of the right side of the screen, and this was followed by a required puzzle-solving item falling through the level. At one part I just dropped dead for reasons I was never sure of. An especially annoying glitch saw my inventory constantly pick the item either to the left or right of the one I wanted, forcing me to try to adjust around that.
If Albedo manages one thing right, it’s looking the part. It wears its sci-fi schlock influence on its sleeve, and it looks great. At times I was impressed that it was managed all by one person. It seems to accomplish this by keeping every area in the game broken up and tiny. Of course, this means there are a bunch of really annoying load times between single puzzles. The soundtrack does a good enough job of setting the tone as well, once again feeling like it came right from a bad movie. There is also some terrible voice acting and I’m going to give the game the benefit of the doubt and assume its to mesh with the cheesy bad movie aesthetic they were going for.
Managing to look and sound the part only brings Albedo: Eyes From Outer Space so far. Nothing in this game can carry the rest of it, and fans of bad sci-fi movies would probably do better just watching bad sci-fi movies. The controls are bad, the gameplay is clunky, the puzzles are more infuriating than anything else, and all of that is assuming the game wants to work at any given moment, which it often doesn’t.
I try to go easy on one-man passion projects, but Albedo: Eyes From Outer Space has so many things wrong with it that this is impossible. Everything from the frustrating puzzles to the awkward combat to what must be the worst control scheme I've ever seen just kept driving me past the point of forgiveness.