Published by Anshar Studios, Gamedec is by far the most captivating game I’ve played so far in 2021. With an incredibly immersive and complex world to roam about in, so much lore to delve into, and a wide array of characters to interact with, 22nd-century Warsaw City is my new favourite place to be.
Anshar Studios describesGamedec as a single-player, cyberpunk, isometric RPG. Players take on the job of a gamedec, a private detective who solves crimes inside virtual worlds, or ‘virtualias’.
The game is set in 22nd-century Warsaw City. It’s a metropolis divided into four levels, from the richest up in High City to the lowly down in Undercity. Modern life is a bit of a drag, and so many people choose to spend their time elsewhere in virtualias. These realms are a hotspot for crime and underhand activities, which is where the role of a gamedec comes in. Gamedecs are knowledgeable in the worlds of virtualias and use their skills to find issues in code, hidden cheats, or anything suspicious which can lead them to the perpetrators they seek.
“As a player, Gamedec gives you complete control over your character and their customisation”
Gamedec‘s defining feature is its focus on player choice and the idea that your decisions have consequences. Anshar Studios have created a complex game where every option picked and choice made affects your experience of the game. As an avid tabletop RPG player, this concept of bringing the essence of tabletop character development to gaming intrigues me greatly.
As a player, you have complete control over your character and their customisation. To begin you choose where in Warsaw City they’re from, and how you would like your base statistics to look. Maybe you’re charismatic and good with people, or maybe you’re easy to anger and opt for intimidating information from people. Whatever you choose, the consequences of those decisions are far-reaching.
It sounds daunting, this idea that your decisions can change the game as you play it. I’ll admit when I first started I wasn’t sure I liked knowing that a wrong choice could lock me out of a story thread I might have later enjoyed (I’m a bit of a ‘must-see everything’ kind of video game player!). But, it’s something you quickly get used to.
Ultimately, the customisability of the game is what made it most appealing to me after I’d played for a while. Watching the characters I liked become friendlier to me and annoying the hell out the ones I didn’t like so much, made everything feel so much more immersive.
“Gamedec’s world and stories are written with such intrigue and expertly interwoven threads that it’s hard to believe you’re just playing a game”
Speaking of immersive, for me, one of the best parts of Gamedec was its setting. Warsaw City and the virtualias you get to visit form part of this extensive world full of lore and intrigue. As an RPG fan, world-building and storytelling are important aspects to get right if I’m to enjoy a game. Gamedec sure did deliver!
The game is based on a series of novels of the same name by Marcin Sergiusz Przybyłek, a Polish author who works with Anshar Studios. I think it’s having this background that makes the world so well-rounded and full of life. (As an aside, the first two books have recently been translated into English and are available on Amazon now, go check them out here.)
An important part of narrative-based games is, of course, the narrative. I found Gamedec‘s story to grip me from the get-go. I’m a sucker for a good mystery, and when I’m thrown into a world reminiscent of Ready Player One and asked to find out why a powerful and influential man’s son won’t come out of a game session, despite exceeding the safe 4-day limit… Well, how can I say no?
Gamedec‘s world and stories are written with such intrigue and expertly interwoven threads that it’s hard to believe you’re just playing a game and not reading a meticulous crime novel.
“The characters in Gamedec had personality and presence that I’ve never felt before in a game”
The final positive point I want to touch on is the characters. The characters in Gamedec really enhanced the whole experience for me. You could argue they form part of the narrative as, without the characters, you have no story, but honestly they felt more than just a plot device… The characters in Gamedec feel real.
Each person you meet feels unique, it’s clear from speaking to them that they have lots happening in the background; history, relationships, desires, dislikes, motivations… Anshar Studios did amazingly not only in making their characters look unique and diverse but in acting it, too.
We’ve already talked about the customisation of Gamedec and its far-reaching impact, but it needs mentioning once more. My favourite part of the game was watching how my dialogue decisions changed how characters spoke and reacted to me. I can’t begin to imagine the planning that went into this game, but it really made the characters feel real. Their reactions were reminiscent of real people, giving them personality and presence that I’ve never felt before in a game.
“Because of a steep learning curve, I worry that players might make decisions early on about their character that they could go on to regret”
Now, if I had to make a negative point (which is difficult, believe me), it would be this: as wonderful and extensive as the world is, it makes for a steep learning curve when you begin playing.
In my beginning hours of play, I found myself often getting bored reading through the information on the Codex; I just wanted to get to the action! I don’t regret sitting through it all, as it created the immersive world I’ve grown to love, but I did wish there wasn’t quite so much to read at the start.
“All in all, I loved Gamedec immensely.”
Also, because of this steep learning curve, I worry that players (myself included) might make decisions early on about their character that they could go on to regret. For example, the first time I interrogated someone, I tried to get all the information I could out of them because that’s just how I’m used to playing games – I want to see all the dialogue, so I choose all the options in sequence. Afterwards, I realised that it’s not how you’re meant to play… The poor kid got so upset with me grilling him that he froze up and wouldn’t answer any more questions. Now, I’m left to play with the consequences of those dialogue decisions.
All in all, I loved Gamedec immensely. If like me, you’re a fan of narrative-heavy detective games, then you should definitely give this a go. Gamedec releases today (September 16th) for PC on Steam, GOG, and Epic Games for USD 29.99. The game will also be coming to the Nintendo Switch, but a date of release is yet to be announced. Similarly, releases on other consoles are in the works, but as yet unannounced.
If you need even more convincing to go give Gamedec a try, then head on over to our announcement post where a link to the official trailer can be found.
Disclaimer: Game code provided by the developer for review.