Escape from BioStation attempts to do what few modern games do: It tells a story, complete with cutscenes, voice acting and progressing environments. While admittedly a bit rough around the edges, the core of this game is a fun and free-spirited romp in a vibrant outer-space atmosphere.
A narrative-driven story
The story centers around a naive-if-lovable little robot named … wait for it … Rob Bot, who has been abandoned and forgotten on a space station orbiting a little-known planet for some 600 years. His presence is discovered by a passing ship looking for loot and Rob is plunged into an epic battle between evil and - well - more evil. His only weapon is an ancient squirrel that fires what seem to be atomic acorns at their foes.
Retro-style 3D platforming and puzzling
The art style, level design and platforming are all reminiscent of older console games like Ratchet & Clank, with delightfully cheesy cutscenes that are more reminiscent of the old CGI cartoon, Reboot. Mature gamers will certainly enjoy the tropes and familiar scenes, as they are well balanced by the pretty, modern outer space and planetary scenery.
Nuclear nuts? Atomic acorns?
Escape from BioStation’s most unique feature has to be Rob’s main weapon, a nut-chucking squirrel with a mind of its own. While equipped, the squirrel behaves like any typical 3rd-person platformer gun, firing perfectly-aimed shots wherever the crosshair lies. Upgrades can be purchased from vending machines, including a rapid-fire and rocket attachment. When not being used, Rob can drop the squirrel and it will follow him through the map. This allows the player to pick up boxes and whatever platforming items they need to get through the map. It also creates a dynamic between carrying items and using the squirrel and offers a unique challenge I’ve never experienced before.
In a market where so many developers opt to create roguelike, procedurally-generated games with no attempt at a story, I’m very pleased to see that Escape from BioStation features gameplay based around its storyline and cutscenes that support it. While the voice acting isn’t the greatest, it seems to fit in with the overall feel of the game. And the simple fact that they exist at all is delightful to me. It makes the game feel more complete. The cutscenes are humorous and - while they probably won’t have you vomiting laughter with tears running down your cheeks - I did find myself laughing out loud more than once. The characters are lovable and consistent, and the game world is too.
While nobody’s going to mistake this for a triple-A title, and it certainly has its share of flaws, it is a solid first-time offering from Tusky Games and I can’t wait to see how their next title looks!