I requested to preview A New Reckoning (simply called New Reckoning on its Steam page) while I was drunk. I’m not ashamed to admit that. In a lager induced haze I discovered the existence of Panzer Gaming Studios’ debut title by accident and thought: “Wow this looks ridiculous. I should probably preview that for a lark”. The funny thing about beer is that it can make bad things seem hilarious. Would you thrust your crotch into your friend’s face to the sound of Bon Jovi while he imitates the arms of a clock if you were sober? Probably not. If I ever accidentally impregnate someone whilst inebriated, requesting to preview A New Reckoning will still be the biggest drunken mistake I’ve ever made.
Of course I opted to play and preview the game completely sober (I’m not that unprofessional), which was also a bad call on my part. A New Reckoning is a mess, one that I can only describe in the form of a story. I realise that this is an unorthodox way to preview a game, but A New Reckoning is an unorthodox game, one which forced me to unburden myself of the shackles of contemporary games criticism. Here goes.
The chugging guitar music filled my eyes, ears and mouth like a hot soup brewed by Chad Kroeger. Was I caught in a nightmare, or was I about to experience the hellish, “next-gen” scares of A NEW RECKONING? Instantly I see an image of four slightly creepy looking, grey-skinned little girls. The chugging continues as they stare at me. For some reason, there is a black swirly shape in the middle of the screen. Then, out of nowhere, ENEMIES! A pixel-y mess of a screenshot displays demons and zombies standing next to a poorly spelled command list. DRAMA! A man dangerously closely resembling Gordon Freeman fights off demons by slowly moving their heads into a wall. We are about to taste reckoning in its newest, purest form.
I find myself in a dark, slightly untextured and impossibly glossy looking place. It’s not quite a warehouse, and it’s not quite a train station. Yet there are trains here. How peculiar, I thought, I must find out more about this place. I see an emotionless man with a large box of text next to his head. This box of text is not a virtual manifestation of his dialogue, the box is actually rendered in this strange world. Initially reluctant to trust a man who is constantly followed around by a large, white box of text, I eventually decide to take him up on his offer to investigate a nearby train. After all, I have a shiny, silver AK-47 in my hand, what could go wrong?
I approach what looks like a train, despite the fact that it is facing in a direction which seems most impractical for any sort of motion or travel. Since most of the area is blocked off by gates to stop anyone getting on the train, I walk alongside the train, only to be ambushed by a screaming zombie, what was once his jaw now a fleshy lump hanging from his face. I unload my twenty rounds of ammunition into him, killing him. Damn! Out of rounds! It sure was annoying to be given a gun with only twenty rounds whilst exploring this undead infested train station. No matter, the way ahead looks clear. I take a few more steps, and notice more figures in the distance; an undead woman in a hospital gown, presumably on her way for a check-up in a town with a larger hospital than her own, a man wearing an outfit which resembled a metallic KKK robe, and a grinning, horned demon which resembled some sort of toasted Dungeon Keeper. Since I was out of rounds, they cornered me instantly. Just like an article on Upworthy, what happened next shocked and amazed me.
Shrill screams and low growls fill the air, repeating like a broken record, yet never quite reaching their intended climax of anguish. Added to this symphony of horror is a loud whisper of I WILL KILL Y- I WILL KILL Y- I WILL KILL YOUUUU. More monsters join the fray, some swinging their arms at me, others simply opting to watch me die in a most perverted fashion. Particles of ice begin exploding around me, along with jets of hot fire. I back into some ammo, and quickly reload my gun. “I’ll send you all back to hell!” I don’t say but it probably would have been cool if I did. Click. A blinding purple flash emerges from the barrel of my weapon, but no bullets follow. It was too late for me. Duped once again by the “Purple Strobe” manufacturing error that plagues so many of today’s firearms.
Wait. I’m back. Why must you torment me by keeping me here Panzer Lord? I turn around to notice the enemies who had just been clawing my face off are now wandering around the corner of the train station, probably waiting for a bagel. I approach them, but they ignore me. I decide to investigate the train as instructed by the EverBox man. More enemies approach, some ignoring me in favour of a leisurely stroll around the station, others opting to run past me or jog together in perfect unison. I realise that these enemies are too slow to catch me if I sprint, so sprint past them I do. I reach a cluster of trains in front of a skybox. A group of identical men in military uniforms are standing in front of me, making firing motions with the guns in their hands. No bullets or sounds emerge from the guns, so I assume they were just practising for a play.
Okay that’s enough. If it isn’t clear to you already, I had more fun writing this than playing A New Reckoning. The game makes absolutely no sense, is filled with brain-dead AI, glitches, bugs and poorly animated, poorly rendered, yet overly glossy UDK stock assets. The main character is a scientist named Mark Faraoh [sic], who is ordered around train stations and locations which resemble Italian restaurant toilets if they were designed by Darth Maul. There he fights an array of exploding ice and fire hospital zombies while they fire poorly edited sound files at him. Then “Captian William” [sic] informs him that he needs to escape because “they have injected him with a gas nerve” [sic]. After the game had assaulted every one of my senses (plus some others I didn’t know existed), I decided to stop playing.
This game is currently on Steam for £6.99. Looking at older videos of the game makes me think it’s actually gotten worse in the last two months. These videos show several different game modes and assets that don’t appear in the version I played, as well as aspects of the game’s “story” that are completely different.
The game’s developer Jason Welge is currently experiencing heavy backlash on Steam, and rightly so. A New Reckoning is just another in a long list of Early Access games that are putting Steam and the entire concept of quality control to shame. Don’t buy this game, it’s terrible. Although it did win the “Hollywood film festival indie movie of the year 2102 Starlet” award, so what do I know?
I will leave you with an excerpt from the game’s synopsis:
Waking up out of solitary confinement, an amnesiac prisoner named Mark Faraoh butchers his way to freedom. Outside is a reality never before seen with zombies devouring themselves, each other and all things imaginable buildings. Sinister forces continue to emerge with no hope in sight.
All things imaginable buildings. All things imaginable buildings.