When you want to exercise your mind instead of your trigger finger
While I have been playing some action-oriented games lately, I do enjoy logic problems. Getting a puzzle and working it over and over until a solution is found is an incredibly satisfying experience.
So a few weeks ago when I saw Access Denied on the PlayStation Store, I thought “Why Not?” and spent the AUD$8 on what looked like a promising little title.
So I one afternoon when I was working from home, I started playing. I thought it would be a good thing I could pick up and put down as I was waiting.
What I didn’t expect was to finish after about 2 hours. And that was a distracted 2 hours. But more of that later – let’s talk about the good stuff first.
What Access Denied does well
Access Denied doesn’t hold your hand. You start the game with a control panel and some great rain sounds. Clicking start raises a box, and then you are pretty much on your own.
You can rotate the device before you, and change the viewing angle. The first puzzle is straightforward, but you still need to work out what you can interact with.
When the puzzle is complete, a little hologram orb appears, and the next challenge rotates in. Simple, straightforward, and satisfying when you complete a puzzle.
The difficulty curve I thought was about right as well. New mechanics are slowly introduced, and I never felt stumped. There was always a path I knew I could try.
All in all, it’s a generally smooth experience that allows people new to puzzle games a safe entry point.
And what could Acces Denied improve?
I have only played on the PS4, but the controls aren’t great. Maybe the touchscreen would be better? Moving the reticle and clicking isn’t too bad, but you have the problem of moving too much or not enough with the analogue stick. A way to adjust the sensitivity of the movement would be nice.
And dials. They are terrible. Using the dials was genuinely frustrating for me. They made straightforward puzzles unnecessarily annoying.
My only other real gripe is the length of the game, but at less than $8 (on PS4) I don’t expect a 40-hour game.
And then there are the trophies…
On PlayStation and Xbox are the trophies or achievements. Earning them increases your score or level on your platform, and is something either sought after or ignored generally.
For PlayStation gamers, trophies come in four ranks and are awarded for specific tasks in a game. Bronze for small achievements, the backbone of the system. Silver for harder tasks or hidden goals, recognition of extra work. Gold for outstanding in-game actions. Get every other trophy in the game, and you earn the platinum trophy signifying your mastery of the title.
Kingdom Hearts 3, my first platinum since Resident Evil 7, has 46 trophies in all. 32 bronze, 10 silver, and 2 gold – plus the platinum.
Batman – Return to Arkham: Arkham Asylum has 48 trophies. 28 bronze, 18 silver, 1 gold plus the platinum.
The Telltale game The Walking Dead: Season One also has a platinum trophy. It is generally regarded as an ‘easy platinum’ as you only need to finish all of the episodes. Each episode is essentially a mini-movie with the occasional choice, so they aren’t considered ‘hard’ games. The Walking Dead: Season One has 41 trophies over 5 episodes. 30 bronze, 5 silver, 5 gold and of course one platinum.
Among these titles, you now have an idea of how trophies usually are shared out in a game. You are given a semi-secret score for each trophy you earn, all of which add up to your gamer level.
What struck me as odd was how much my PSN level jumped when finishing Access Denied. Sure, I had earned platinum which is worth a lot of points, but it still didn’t seem right. Plus it was only 14 trophies; things weren’t adding up. Then I looked at the trophy distribution. 2 silver, 11 gold, and the platinum. Not a single bronze trophy in sight.
For $8 and a couple of hours of my time, I had bought a platinum trophy and more gold trophies than three ‘full’ games. Not going to lie – this left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t consider myself a trophy hunter, but this feels like an artificial sales incentive for Access Denied.
Want to get a lot of trophies quickly? Buy Me!
Access Denied stands on its own merits. If I had just finished the game with nothing but a few bronze trophies, I would have been happy. On PS4 at least this trophy grab incentive cheapens the game in my eyes.
If the biggest problem I have with a game is a perceived marketing ploy, it really can’t be a bad game.
Even the controls I could work around. Access Denied is a game you pick up and play in short bursts normally. Working around issues like that for a short time, especially for the price, is forgivable in my eyes.
If you are new to video game escape room type puzzle games, Access Denied is a fine game if you know it’s shortcomings. If you have more experience, you can still grab The Witness for free on PlayStation Plus for a couple more days.
Until next time,
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