From The Note’s Steam page: “perfect background music,” “scary atmosphere,” and “realistic graphics.” Rarely does a developer or publisher refer to their own features as “perfect.” Pretty ballsy statements. I didn’t even read the story section until after this review. The screenshots of a dark gray mysterious town and military looking bunker door sold me. First and foremost the “story” section picture above is mentioned NO WHERE in this game. Actually the game starts this way:
Yes. You play someone named Mike (I think). Who the hell is Mike? Professional foot hunter according to his in game tweet. You are on a road. There is a car behind you. It’s raining. There is also this thing about Andy’s missing foot. This could be important. Andy is probably an Olympic torch runner. Maybe he’s a podiatrist? Regardless we are missing a foot. It appears when we find the foot we will conclude this game. This is a foot finding game! Could be history in the making!
After walking down the road, I arrived at this sign. Ok. I am in a ghost town. This is like watching Jurassic World and Chris Pratt suddenly turns to the screen and says “This is a sci-fi dinosaur movie.” and just walks away. Remember that moment when Haley Joel Osment turns to the audience and says “I see the audience seeing dead people”? I don’t either. This game has no problems with blowing armpit farts at the fourth wall.
I feel like I need to pause here and explain a couple of things. First, I know the difference between Triple A, Indie, Triple A Early Access, and small house Early Access. All of my reviews will keep this in mind when scoring, rating, and discussing. You just cannot expect to get Dying Light out of a $5 indie title. That’s ludicrous, and not something in the realm of my expectations. I am looking for diamonds in the rough. Second, this game is not early access. As of June 23, 2015, it is being sold and distributed as a finished game. I was actually enthusiastic about trying this game out, playing it for a few hours, minutes after it’s release on Steam. So onwards I go, after reading the Ghost town sign I headed towards the nearby gas station. The door was open, I went inside.
Hey guys I made a box. With textures. Come inside, pay me $5.
I have nothing against other countries or cultures that are not my own. I may have been born in the United States, but my background is from two different countries. The States are truly a melting pot of cultures I embrace passionately. I am far from xenophobic, or closed minded in terms of culture differences. However let’s face it there are stupid people everywhere. So while I love the STALKER games, and Metro 2033, it doesn’t excuse the fact Russia breeds it’s own unique breed of weird. Case and point: all the ridiculous Russia based Youtube videos. It reminds me of this time we were playing a MOBA with a couple of Russian players who not only kept rushing face first into certain death and ruining the experience for everyone, but were calling us “retarders” for not joining in the online seppuku. That is how I felt playing The Note, I am now a retarder for investing time and energy into understanding this amateur babble.
I get it, there could be a language barrier with indie games from other cultures. I mean if I was forced to write a review in Russian, it would just be Niet, Dah, and several lines from the movie The Hunt From Red October. I would almost certainly embarrass myself. If I really wanted to capture that audience I would hire someone, or know someone, who could ensure proper translation. This is what successful international games do. Understanding the language of a game is one of many keys towards immersion. Not the only one. The ultimate translation for this game still couldn’t turn this incomprehensible pile of manure into a game. Keep this in mind as we dissect this game further.
After the empty gas station I went wandering around the exterior mountain line. After a few minutes I found what appeared to be a secret backdoor entrance. As I got closer to examine it, I fell down the ridge to the area pictured above. Sadly the poorly tested game surely did not intend for anyone to explore this Ghost Town. I was stuck inside the geometry, forced to kill the task and restart. I should have just stopped there. Spared my neurons further torture. Yet my responsibilities as a serious game reviewer pushed me forward. I decided to give up exploring, and just focus on “the town.” Maybe that’s where most of the focus was spent? So I returned to the center of the map, which is 15 meters away from the Ghost Town sign.
This ghost town is inhabited by two naked Grandparents. They are not officially called Grandparents by developer ArtemiZ studios. They are actually not called anything by ArtemiZ. Nor are they explained. They are just there. Wandering around in square patterns around town. Naked Grandparents is exactly what these things look like. They hobble around as if they have had major hip replacement surgery, from what I’ve been told can happen to real grandparents. The naked Grandparents still animate better than anything in DayZ, so that’s a plus. I sat there, jaw hanging open for 6 minutes just watching the Cemetery Village.
This was it. The Ghost Town. Seven buildings. Two naked Grandparents. Fifteen total rooms to walk into, some with a second story. There is not one piece of furniture ANYWHERE in Ghost Town. There are also no clothes for the humiliated Grandparents. There are no toilets in the tiled “bathrooms.” There is no garbage in the exterior dumpsters. Doors don’t even swing or move open they are just open. There’s no command or mouse click to press to even open/close/use anything in this game so it does not matter.
Ever know that kid who’s parents bought him a cool robot toy, and the kid plays with the robot for ten minutes and then has a week’s worth of fun with the box and plastic packaging? That kid grew up and designed The Note. He also wants to sell you the empty box and packaging experience for five dollars.
With nothing apparent to do. I decided to interview the naked Grandparents. These things have poor vision. They did not make a sound. They did not look at me. They just walked around, the same predefined square over and over again. So I decided to walk towards the bare elderly monster. As I approached my screen started getting film grain. This film grain intensified until I was about 30 feet away from the Grandparent. Then for no explained reason, I died.
I can only theorize I was killed by their aura of old age. I suppose this constitutes “scary atmosphere.” The classic Hollywood film grain effect is probably some kind of visual cue that your birthday is now in the year 1915. Your pacemaker gives out and you die. Sadly as a gamer, it also kills enthusiasm, logic, and interest.
I found a metal door behind the Ghost Town. This is surely where the Wizard of Oz went to die. Wait the Wizard of Oz was a man in his late 60s. Maybe this is where the Wizard is taking off his clothes, preparing to streak the town? This door does nothing. So I leave. Unsure of what to do next I wandered around “town.” I was stumped in this stump of a game. I fired up Steam to see what other victims were saying about this “game.” That’s when I saw the notice from the developer:
You need to read. And then take it.
What was that sonny? Hello? Buffalo? Whadyasay? Here are actual note samples you will find:
Notes have to have the title “the inscription on the note:” on top of all notes. You wouldn’t know it to be a note, unless it told you it was a note! Now that I know this, I can easily avoid any and all cultural awkwardness if I ever meet ArtemiZ game developers in person. I will also hand this game to back to them with the words “This is toilet paper” written over it. “I feel like something strange” is the most ironic of all notes in The Note. Now, it takes about 2 minutes to find the six or seven scattered notes around town. Once collected, a message appears that says “Now, go to the hospital.” Ok.
The only reason this game is scary, its because it will frighten people from trying legitimate indie titles in the future.
I found a building labeled “Motel.” I found several houses. A building labeled “Gas Station.” I walked around the mountains. Fell into a game-ending back door. Where the hell is the Hospital? Apparently the Hospital is a strange bunker door behind the town. No where in any universe does a Hospital look like this. How would anyone know to go there when ill is beyond comprehension. Unfortunately I went inside. 2-3 naked Grandparents wandering aimlessly in the hallways. It isn’t scary. Since the hallways are so confined, you will run into naked old relatives frequently. This brings up the film grain death screen before you can react, hurtling you back to Andy’s foot and the rainy car. That is correct, no save feature, it wasn’t invented during the ’49 Gold Rush when this game was developed. I attempted to walk around the hospital but after two more unexplained death screens I gave up. That’s when I found it. The one redeeming quality of this atrocious game.
The only reason this game is scary, is because it will frighten people away from indie games. This is just a bad non-game. I don’t think it is even remotely fair to peddle someone’s Unity student project off as a completed game. It is misleading to even call it an Early Access game. The game is bad not because of language barriers, it is just plain bad, and a complete waste of time. The Note is complete garbage, but it is not a complete game. This game is a buggy, disgusting mess. A ridiculous scam on anyone foolish enough to believe anything is “perfect” in the game’s own description. Save your money, and buy anything else.