Isolani Shadowplays Us For Fools

Isolani‘s ‘Transmission’ certainly gets the message across. That message, by the way, is “So, you thought killing robots would be easy, huh?”

Isolani‘s second episode (you can read about the first here) has a difficulty curve that rises higher than hemlines in times of national crisis. In Episode One, I died once – in the final boss fight. In Episode Two, I have died twice and am only seven tenths of the way through. Don’t think this is unintentional, however…but we’ll get to that. The plot? You’re on a different ship now, trying to find a weapon called the “Phoenix Maguffin” (or words to that effect) because…because killing robots, that’s why.

Aw, but it looks so sweet and not at all ominous…

The First Law of Transmission: Thou Shalt Worship The Hunting Rifle

One of the interesting things about Episode 2 is the range of weapons. While before I could run my way through the game without having to switch in a tactic I called “Being a badass”, that tactic has new been renamed “Kamikazi”. The Hunting Rifle allows for long range attacks, so one can wait for the robots to walk blindly into the line of fire – although why is there a hunting rifle on a spaceship? And speaking of which, where are my lasers? And why do I lose my guns at the end of every level? These are questions Isolani only has one answer for: so you can lose lives.

The game has now implemented a lives system, and every life takes ten minutes to restore. Unless you buy more. Ah, in-app purchases, I wondered when you would make an appearance. This is also an explanation of why the difficulty curve is so steep – you can buy new, upgraded weapons (or just unlock them throughout the game, like I did. Purchase is not really necessary). And while having a timed leaderboard and in-app purchases is a paradox in itself, I don’t think anyone is playing Isolani for speed. And, £5.49 for a rocket launcher is a bit steep, don’t you think? I could buy four other games and donate to charity with that.

A visual representation of the concept of Pay-To-Win


You make it to the teleportation bay, recreating this scene from the Matrix, and find out that plot twist, the Phoenix Maguffin is actually another on-board computer (and your pretend human guide) who has been battling Cluster, and that it needs your DNA to kickstart another universe. You are not The One – actually, your number is over 9000.

Here Lies Goku

Upon hearing this, the player panics and tries to escape. This all happens in a cutscene, which leads me to one conclusion…you’ve been playing as a massive douche the entire time. A guy that won’t sacrifice his own life in order to save the universe? That guy kind of sucks. Then we find out that Phoenix would need to kill all the life in the universe to do it, and Cluster reveals that actually he could perhaps make more stars – although why he neglected to mention this two episodes ago is a plot hole worthy of Prometheus. You eventually reach the hanger, escape from Phoenix who is lamenting her creator’s ‘failure’, and Cluster rambling about making new stars.

Long story short? I sense a moral choice coming.


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