Full Void Review
Puzzle platformers with a cinematic flair aren’t too common nowadays, although some of the classics of the genre are still talked about to this day. Cue developer OutOfTheBit’s latest title: Full Void, which aims to not only hit the player with a dose of nostalgia but also inject some modern ideas into the old-school formula. If you have any fond memories of titles such as Another World, Heart of Darkness, or the more modern INSIDE, then Full Void may just be the game for you!
We start our journey with a nameless protagonist, a teenager on the run from the rogue artificial intelligence that controls the majority of humankind. It’s clear from the visuals alone that this is not a lush and vibrant near-future, although if you need more proof, then the gaunt, red-eyed thing chasing you will probably do it!
Despite the lack of obvious explanation as to what is going on within this world, Full Void nevertheless uses bleak environments and subtle clues to allow the player to piece together the overall narrative. Things do become clearer the further into the game you get, with flashback sequences also helping to fill in the blanks, so if you were left scratching your head at something like LIMBO searching for a deeper meaning, then this game is much simpler to understand (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing!). It’s not entirely perfect, though, and some of the game’s later scenes don’t hit quite as hard as they would have done with some dialogue, or at least a bit more context, but that may just be my over-reliance on being told exactly what’s going on.
Everything surrounding the visuals is seriously impressive. Pixel art — when done right — can look absolutely gorgeous, and it’s definitely done right in Full Void! For one, the backgrounds are dreary and dismal, although superbly lit, to really give me the feeling of “this is not a city I’d want to live in”. With the addition of small, often subtle, animations, and a great use of depth, there’s a really unique contrast of a lived-in city with lots going on close by, yet a real sense of isolation as our protagonist navigates the dingy streets alone. Likewise, the character and creature animations are fantastic; from our nimble hero frantically clambering over rooftops to the sinister forces relentlessly on the hunt for human prey, the rotoscope-like effect is genuinely impressive. To see the game in action does it way more justice than the screenshots in this review can ever do, with the closest videogame comparisons that spring to mind being Another World or Flashback.
Working in tandem with the sombre visuals is the equally melancholic audio. The “less is more” approach with sound can work so well when used correctly (look at the film A Quiet Place for one of my personal favourites), and Full Void often features no music at all. Just you and the ambient noises of the cold, ruthless environments, which once again create this incredibly lonely atmosphere. Music is used during more frantic scenes, such as fleeing from a pursuing entity, and ramps up the tension and the fear that you’re about to be caught at a moment's notice.
Whilst there have been many references to other, older titles in this niche genre throughout this review, Full Void does feel decidedly modern. Controls, whilst basic, are responsive to the quick inputs you’ll need in order to survive this harsh future. This simplicity works in the game's favour, especially when you’re faced with imminent death! Using only the analogue stick and two buttons, you’ll move the protagonist left and right, climb objects using up and down, as well as jump and interact with the environment (such as pushing a button or hacking a robot).
An easy-to-learn control scheme doesn’t mean that the game itself is easy, oh no! You’ll bear witness to many, many deaths throughout the journey, from mistimed jumps to swiping claws you just couldn’t outrun; Full Void is a perilous adventure with little to no hints that inform the player of impending death. Thankfully, the checkpoint system is extremely lenient, often spawning you back moments before a death, eliminating the need to run two or three screens back to where you met your end.
That said, it isn’t the most difficult puzzle platformer I’ve ever played, with my entire experience lasting just under three hours. There is a good combination of puzzles and platforming sections that are varied enough to prevent gameplay from becoming stale, so much so that I wanted a longer game!
Despite Full Void being a short adventure, it was one I cherished every moment of. The mystery surrounding the narrative and why the protagonist is seemingly the only human left within the confines of the city was an intriguing one that, whilst I felt it didn’t fully pay off in the end-game sections, was still interesting enough to keep pushing ever onwards. Combined with stunning pixel art and tight controls, this journey through a bleak world may be brief, but still definitely one I’d recommend experiencing.
Full Void (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
Full Void is an excellently crafted cinematic puzzle platformer that, despite its short length and occasionally obscure story, should absolutely be experienced by anyone who enjoys the genre.