It’s 1985 in San Cohoto, California, and your mission for the day is to get to school. You’re just an average kid, though nothing about today is average. Such as there are strange people in your backyard/garden, and your dog is in a weird kind of cage… welcome to The Suburbiad.
This title by The Akashic House Game Studio appears to be its first venture into game development, and it’s not a bad start. It is listed in the Android store as an adventure title, and from what you’re told at the start of the game, your hometown has apparently been taken over by “strange time traveling interdimensional beings”. You are a fifteen year old named Peter and you are tasked with saving your town, of course! Every kid’s dream.
As The Suburbiad starts, there is a basic layout as to what the buttons on the screen do and then you’re in. From there, not a whole lot is given to you. Sometimes, a little tutorial is helpful, and it perhaps would have benefited from that. Instead, you‘ll just test the waters, click on the buttons on the screen to figure them out once the basic layout is gone. You’ll start out with exploring and picking up random items, such as your backpack, a slingshot, and a katana you just happen to have in your home. Though that does come in handy later against what I presume are squirrels.
The Suburbiad got frustrating quickly for me, as there wasn’t any clear indication of what to do. When I opened the menu, I found my quest log. Rather than the game simply showing you your quests, that’s where you go to find them. For example, once I figured out what I had to do, this is what I had to go through: I needed to go into the backyard/garden and free my dog who had been put in a cage by the interdimensional beings. But first I had to defeat the squirrels with my trusty blade. Now again, there was a strange contraption near my dog called a “psybob” that can apparently unlock, perform mind control, and push items. How, I’m not sure, but it helped me free my dog. How to use the item didn’t make a whole lot of sense at first, but at least I finally got it figured out. From there, I was finally able to go outside and finish the first level of the game.
This title is a good start for the developers, but needs some adjustments. The graphics are okay, and the game can be fun at times, but it was more frustrating than anything else. I do see what the developers were going for - a full-fledged game in mobile form - and I think they can definitely get there. Mainly a little bit of help or tutorial added into it. I think that’s all that would really be needed in order to avoid any frustration, as the mechanics are fairly easy once you figure them out. Were this a console title, it’s highly possible that the things that the developers are asking gamers to do would be purely logical and we wouldn’t need tutorials, but on mobile, it’s needed. It’s just not second nature, knowing what this or that does, like it is on console or on PC. Such as how WASD on a keyboard and the D-Pad on a controller are both for moving, that’s not something that’s ever-present on a mobile game. They have taken on a very large task, a daunting one, and I think they’ll get there in time.
All in all, The Suburbiad is an interesting premise and I think it has great potential. Now that I’m further in the game, I’m looking forward to seeing how many people I can save and how far I can get. I would suggest giving it a try. It isn’t open world, but it is explorative once you get to each building/location for each level. It’s worth a look for sure, and I’m interested to see what The Akashic House Game Studio does in the future.
This game is good, with a few negatives.
The game has its faults, but with a few fixes, such as a small tutorial, it could definitely be great. Would recommend giving this game a try.