Watching the trailers for Soma Games’ new title G Prime Into the Rain led me to believe that this game would be some kind of epic space exploration game akin to the recently released Elite: Dangerous. Starting the game also leaves the same impression with its intriguing back story, but what really is G Prime?
Let me start off by saying those expecting an epic space exploration game will probably be disappointed. While G Prime does contain elements of that genre, it certainly doesn’t fulfill the specification. I have seen other describe G Prime as Angry Birds in space… but surely that would be just Angry Birds Space? I can see why somebody would come to this conclusion but, for me, that would also be a huge misrepresentation of this game. I guess that G Prime is one of those titles that doesn’t really fit into any specific genre; it tries to be something new and original and, according to the developers, is the first part of a planned saga that will explore the back story even more.
As for that back story, this is how the developer describes it themselves in the press kit: “Explore the vast uncharted mysteries of The Rain, an incoming solar-system spanning cloud of rock, ice, metal, and other asteroids containing precious materials. This creates a boundless opportunity for wealth, and this is where you come in. In your role as sounding officer onboard Ptolemy Station, you are tasked with launching sub-etheric reconnaissance rockets into increasingly challenging gravity fields of iceteroids, theophosphorus and quicksand clouds within The Rain in order to chart its vast riches.” Sounds pretty exciting doesn’t it?
That description would probably make many believe it also has more than a passing nod to Minecraft too, which I suppose it does in a small way, but not as obvious as you may think. Basically, what you do in G Prime is launch rockets into space hoping to find stuff. That’s it in a nutshell. These rockets are very much affected by the gravity of objects in space, and this is the first thing you need to get to grips with. Slingshotting round objects becomes a key part of the game that must be mastered – but it’s certainly not easy. There will be a lot of trial and error before you get this right, and controlling the rocket and its thrusters is not the easiest thing to master either. The controls are definitely not G Prime‘s strong point; you won’t be discovering anything in this vast universe unless you can get to grips with them. The same can be said for G Prime‘s navigation systems: everything is operated from a central dashboard that represents your spaceship. Unfortunately, nothing on this control panel is made obvious – to start with, I was literally clicking everything to see what it does to try and get somewhere. It’s like the developers assumed everyone would know the game as well as they did, and decided instructions wouldn’t be needed. G Prime really is a confusing mess for new players.
Soma also seemed to have spent far too much time fleshing out the story rather than explaining what the actual game is about. Listening to another story and watching more video is not what you want to do with a game of this type: it’s not a Telltale story game, it’s a space-based strategy puzzler! If you are going to use complicated mechanics in your game, at least have the decency to tell people how they work. I can feel myself getting just as frustrated writing this review as I did trying to play the game; I think it took me over half an hour to just to figure out what the hell I was actually doing, let alone get anywhere! I probably need to calm down a bit and try to find the positives… there are a few; it’s just that you have to dig a long way to find them. However, once you do master the control of the exploration rockets, figure out the gravity-based physics and begin to discover the universe around you, there is a lot of satisfaction in G Prime. It certainly helps relieve some of the frustration experienced getting there, but the question is just how many people will persevere to make it that far?
Once I got there, I did enjoy discovering all the minerals, negotiating the asteroid fields and homing in on the key targets. Unfortunately, thanks to all the hassle it took to get there, it doesn’t really encourage me to either recommend the game or return to it over much more playable and intuitive games. It’s a shame really because G Prime Into the Rain does look really nice and has some cool ideas, but unfortunately it’s just too much style over substance. G Prime is certainly more a labour of love for the developers than a game designed for the masses.