Colombian developer On3D Studios’ Quantum Replica features a reflective shade and hoodie wearing amnesiac named Alpha. Thrust into a city under lockdown, our protagonist starts his journey into a surface level examination of what makes a cyberpunk world work. Rather than focus on what actually makes the genre tick - the people, their problems, and the underlying social commentary - we are only offered vibrant dashes of neon and a synth laden soundtrack.
The narrative starts out by obliquely letting us know that things used to be better, but now they are bad. Quantum Replica doesn’t dole out much in the way of details, which did little to hook me into the world or the plight of its residents. Instead, it serves up a barebones action movie starter set of a plot. This could work as a passable framework to tell a story, but puts the onus of quality solely on the gameplay.
In game development circles, you commonly see two truisms. First, you should find what’s engaging early and focus on it. Second, that scope creep is inevitable, so you should cut what is not working. In Quantum Replica, I see the genesis of a lot of interesting ideas that stumbled in the execution.
I normally love to meticulously pick apart guard patrols, slowly peeling back the layers of security until I can swoop in for my target. But the game’s core stealth loop actively disincentivizes me from doing so. The levels break down into what are effectively a grid of corridors, providing few opportunities for player creativity in deconstructing defenses. Moreover, all the verticality in the level design is just begging to be used, but only gets a brief nod toward the end of the game.
And If you do decide to knockout or kill a guard, there’s nowhere to hide the body and once discovered a drone drops in a replacement guard. The game, though clearly not by intention, taught me that my best option was to selectively run through the guards at near breakneck speeds in order to move on to the next section.
The boss fights - excluding the last one - bring a much needed spark to the game. The first encounter has you dashing through waves of bullet hell style attacks while the second builds on its shmuppy predecessor with a melee focused twist. While each encounter still felt rough, I felt like I was looking at the core of what could have been polished into a good boss rush game.
Ultimately, Quantum Replica feels like a game design checklist. They are present and functional, but that’s the most that they can claim. I’m not ready to write off On3D Studios though. The boss fights show me that these developers can build something engaging, I just hope their sophomore offering has them creating a more focused experience.
Score: 2 out 5 (Not Recommended)
Quantum Replica was developed by On3D Studios. It is available on Steam for $15.99.