Disillusioned by Dissolution

While teeming and boiling over with potential, Dissolution falls quickly with unnecessary spotlight on backstory while mapping, mechanics and fun slump to the back and are ignored totally.


After having my ass handed to be in the last Modplay Monday I attended to, my desire for playing more Sci-Fi games peaked, and after looking though my to-do list of mods I found the perfect specimen: Dissolution.

Like this hallway? Expect to see many, many and many more.

A new(ish) release, this Mod has a combination of Adventure and Action gaming in one. Seeing how I’ve yet to play a mod that can do this or much less do it well, I quickly cracked it open and got to playing.

Things start off with a very long and almost droning exposition and setup of the backstory of the plot. In a nutshell, a mysterious billionaire spent his fortune on a space cruise company, setting up eventual settlements on the Moon and Mars while Earth raged with war. Due to vague circumstances years later, all of the humans on Earth are dead and the only ones alive are the lucky ones living in these colonies.

Eventually the game will begin and despite all of the backstory I still managed to feel lost. A disembodied voice told me I needed to leave the area, and after killing someone I had no idea I was supposed to kill (until I was attacked.) I was brisked around and told that I needed to do so and so objective and so on.

And let’s might as well get this off our minds now: Yes, this game does have a similar feeling to Bioshock. With the same mentality “for a better world” and insane citizens trying to kill you- it is similar but only in feeling. I felt genuine fear when I heard Splicers crawling around and when I could hear a Big Daddy moan. In Dissolution all I have are pre-scripted encounters with reskinned Half Life 2 rebels that to be frank, I feel bad about killing.Why do I have to kill them? What’s happened here? And most of all, why should I care?

There is no emotional weight to give me concern or even curiosity about this place. Bioshock had you enter into a strange docking bay and descend slowly into Rapture with a voiceover telling you about it all. You felt engrossed and enthralled by what could happen next in Rapture, but here? Things start off small and continue to feel small.

There is so much painful focus on backstory they dearly hope it will be enough to cover the fact that who you are, why you are here, why it matters and everything else means anything. So much emphasis is on this it even gives you a passive-agressive alert when you manage to miss one of the many audiologs on a map. Then, to make it worse, when things are explained for your own character/plot going on now it’s painfully rushed compared to the attempted narrative of the past.

...Really?

The mapping I believe is part of the problem with this mod. Unlike Return, which handled a very similar plot and setting excellently, the maps here feel repetitive and stale. If this was a mappers first time or first ever modding project this would be quite impressive, but with custom textures, music, weapons, plot and quality voice acting.. Why is the most important visual aspect lacking?

If the rooms don’t feel empty they feel odd and out-of-place with a sense of grandeur lost somewhere along the line between concept and final product. The sections that house the most dangerous and insane citizens are identical to the main hallways which are identical to the sewage areas. When comparing this mod to something truly scary and atmospheric like the Nightmare House series or with the same Sci-Fi elements like in Return, they can’t even be compared.

In the end, Dissolution sounds like to me a Mod that had a lot of ambition, but between so much emphasis put on backstory, stale mapping and voice acting, it didn’t go anywhere very fast. If this project was being handled by a more professional mapping and modelling team it could have been something legendary, but that sadly isn’t the case.
Check out the Mod here: http://www.moddb.com/mods/dissolution/

 

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