Defunct may be best described as the final kick in the jewels from gaming in 2017. By the time this article is available, we will be something like a month (or two) into 2018, but believe me when I say that I seriously had that hard of a time putting my disappointment into words. It’s not as if the game is unplayable or may not be fun for the right player, I just can’t begin to fathom why the ideas put forward in this game were so strictly held back.
Being able to have some level of control over the acceleration of a super speedy robot guy sounds awesome and could have been awesome if the game let you do just that. At the outset, the player can only do a few things and this is fine since they are still learning how to play. I figured after a bit of the slower, more methodical hills and ridges my robot avatar would be thrust into a high-speed world that would be as hectic as it is fun to race through.
Instead, I found myself on a rather boring and confusing mission. In retrospect, all I had to do throughout the story mode was get from one end of an area to the other and turn on a few… things. There were no enemies to fight or flee from, no puzzles to work through, or even any high-speed race-against-the-clock sections. With gameplay elements including gravitsing, magnetising, and just going fast, I am left baffled by how many times I had to use the backup engine just to get up a small hill.
With speed boosts littering nearly every inch of the game, you’d be right to think it would be difficult to ever go slow. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. I constantly missed whole strings of boosts and then immediately hit a slope that is impossible to overcome without them. While it may seem like I’m focusing all my criticism on the mechanics of the game, the problem is there isn’t much more to it.
When you boil it down, Defunct feels a hell of a lot more like a proof of concept or alpha instead of a full game. The levels explored throughout the campaign are rather dull and not terribly interesting, without any interesting characters or even many gameplay variances. I played the entire story mode from start to finish in a single sitting and just kept thinking, “Now the real game starts, right?” Unfortunately, I just never felt like the game flowed well enough or offered enough adrenaline to get me truly engaged.
I’m left in this weird spot where I don’t feel like I have anything to talk about. The art is mediocre, the music is forgettable, the levels are bland and empty, the main character is only a vehicle for the game mechanics, there aren’t really any supporting characters, the plot is simplistic to a fault, and the content available once the story is finished is only for those that have mastered the finicky controls. I suppose the title is unique in its focus on mobility instead of combat or puzzle-solving, but I simply don’t feel like it does enough to warrant this focus.
Without a doubt, I will be telling my friends to avoid this one. While it’s commendable for any developer to try out a new idea like this, this game displays the exact reason why so many don’t. Unfortunately, a unique concept is not always a good concept or, like in this case, a fully thought out concept. The simplest way for me to describe how I feel about this title would be to say I’d have been far happier had this been pitched to me as the building blocks for a future project that would be expanded on.
Defunct (Reviewed on Xbox One X)
Minor enjoyable interactions, but on the whole is underwhelming.
Not terribly engaging, not that great to look at or listen to, no characters or themes to get attached to, and no real point to the entire story mode. Just a generally underwhelming experience.