Backup

by Gregory Weir profile

Science Fiction
2009

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Number of Reviews: 3
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Short, with light sabers, September 25, 2010
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

In Backup, you play a computer that is in charge of a high-tech (but unfinished) base under assault by terrorists. You get to inhabit plasma sword wielding drones in your attempt to kill them all -- although that's not quite all there is to the, admittedly short, story.

Let us talk a bit about the combat system first. Unlike Gun Mute, Backup's combats are not won through solving puzzles, but through choosing the right actions within a consistent system. In this respect, it is a little more like Slap That Fish, although that game too quickly started using puzzles. In Backup, combat is more straightforward: every turn, you get either to attack, to parry, or to feint. Your opponent gets to do the same thing, and each of the nine possible combinations has a certain determined outcome. It's not much of a spoiler, but let me nevertheless hide the pay-off matrix: (Spoiler - click to show)Let the first letter give your action, and the second letter that of your opponent, so that A/F means that you attack and your opponent feints. Then you die in the cases A/A, P/F and F/A. You win in the cases A/F and F/P. The other outcomes are neutral.

In itself, this system allows for no tactics, but only pure guesswork. Now it is, I believe, possible to predict what your opponent is going to do based on the flavour text that is shown prior to your turn; and if you predict rightly, you can choose the optimal action. That is what you have to learn to read in order to consistently win -- but I found the game a bit too short to get the hang of this.

Not that this matters much, since dying isn't much of a punishment, and combat can even be mostly avoided if you dislike it. As the story progresses, you are called upon to make a choice between four different possible endings -- some of these require the solution of a small puzzle, but the difficulty is very low.

All of which makes Backup an accessible little story with some non-standard gameplay that will keep you interested for the short time it lasts.