After we're gone, what will take over? For The Uncertain, the answer is robots. With humans no longer around, robots have taken their place and have built a perfect society based on logic and reasoning. At least, that's what they claim. Does the first episode, The Last Quiet Day, expand on this interesting premise, or should you shut this robot off?
In The Last Quiet Day, you'll follow a robot named RT-217NP, or just RT for short. RT has a problem: he was built with a wide range of functions in mind but no specific purpose. As such he occupies his time finding old human items, disassembling them, and building newer and more useful objects out of them in the hopes that he'll find something along the way. Thankfully things end up falling in his lap, literally, when a shuttle crashes right outside of his house. RT begins to uncover a conspiracy involving the robot's government while teaming up with a rebellious group and beginning to find his true purpose. The Last Quiet Day does offer up an interesting premise to what could be a good episodic series, but it's not quite off to the best start just yet. All the plot strings are here, but it doesn't pull any of them hard enough yet and doesn't really go deep enough into any of its plotlines. Part of the problem comes from filler, as the episode seems to just have a lot of moments of nothing happening, like one section of RT just hanging around a hospital helping some people who ultimately don't matter. Maybe The Uncertain is waiting for the second episode to really begin springing the big moments, but they won't happen here.
At first I thought that The Uncertain would be closer to Telltale's brand of "puzzle light, dialogue heavy" games. Much to my surprise, it's actually much more focused on puzzles. During the course of the episode, which is a surprisingly solid four hours long, you'll be solving various puzzles by using tools you find in the environment. It's not overly complicated and, with one exception, the puzzles didn't leave me stuck and playing "throw everything at objects and see what sticks" much, which I welcomed.
Many puzzles in The Last Quiet Day put you in a first person mode, having you interact with objects from RT's point of view. Changing the batteries in a radio becomes a little logic puzzle as you manipulate the radio to find the slot for the batteries before powering it on and tuning it. While puzzles like these happen, there's also more adventure game styled puzzles. By the end of the first area, I had also used a machine to match blocks so I could calibrate a tool, adjusted a breaker to change which parts of my house had power, and used context clues to figure out a four-numbered code for a door. Thankfully if I got lost the game never let me stay stuck for too long. Before I mentioned one puzzle that drove me nuts, this involving trying to figure out a music-based code for another door. No matter how much I explored the environment I genuinely couldn't figure out what I was supposed to be connecting to the door to figure the code out. The Uncertain will drip-feed you hints, before eventually just flat-out telling you the answer so you can continue the story without remaining stuck.
When you're not solving puzzles you'll be talking to characters and engaging in dialogue options, but none of them really matter. The game doesn't really have minor deviations along the path like Telltale games do, other than maybe a quick line or two that ultimately just loops back around to the same conversation. It lets you give a little flavor to RT, but by the end he's still the same robot for everyone. If you're not talking to other robots you can wander around the environment and inspect items. RT's comments are often entertaining as he doesn't quite seem to understand the purpose of many items. To him, a swing set must be an art piece because he can't find any practical use for it. As fun as these things are, The Last Quiet Day is also loaded with references to other games to the point where it gets extremely distracting. Finding Clementine's hat in a garbage is one thing, but having RT spontaneously recite Half-Life 2's opening lines (replacing Mr. Freeman with Mr. Newell) while examining a poster of the lambda with the words "I want to believe" under it just feels out of place. At one point the game actually plays the alert sound from Metal Gear Solid which I kind of wonder about the legality of. There's a bunch of other Half-Life references, a Dead Rising one, a Friday the 13th one, and more. It feels like The Last Quiet Day is worried about standing on its own legs for too long and keeps trying to remind you of better games or movies.
There's also a single action sequence in the form of a car chase. It's awkward and feels unwieldy, with my car sort of lurching around rather than moving in any way that I could deal with. Avoiding the drones taking shots at me would be as easy as just occasionally moving left or right, and staying out of the red zones that show oncoming trees. It's a segment that lasts way too long, happens multiple times for some reason, and each time is preceded by 2-4 minutes of aimless driving. It's one of those things that either needed to be cut or designed far better.
I really want to stick around with The Uncertain for at least one more episode, but The Last Quiet Day doesn't quite open on the note that an episodic series needs. It's not bad, but it's just not as catching as all the other episodic games available on the market now. For future episodes to be better we need to see the plot actually move, the action sequences redesigned, and all the strange and out of place references taken out. Still, I at least feel The Last Quiet Day came off like a genuine attempt at something unique and hopefully that feeling will carry over as the series progresses.
The Uncertain - Episode 1: The Last Quiet Day was reviewed on PC (Affiliate) via Steam using a copy provided by the developers.
The Uncertain's first episode has an interesting premise, but ultimately goes nowhere. It has some smart puzzles in its 4 hour run time, but it also has some awful moments and seems like it's scared of trying to stand on its own. Hopefully a second episode can correct some of this.(Review Policy)
- Interesting story idea
- Smart puzzles
- Meaty for a single episode
- Story ultimately goes nowhere
- Chase sequence
- Overload of refrences to other games