Exploring a post-apocalyptic wasteland will not come as a revolutionary new idea for many gamers, but does 35MM bring something new to the table?
Before I answer that question, let me tell you more about the game. First of all, 35 MM is a Post-apocalyptic story about two travellers who set out on a long journey in the wasteland, left by people after the global epidemic. You travel through a variety of landscapes: forests, fields, villages, towns, cities and the metro station, looting every room you come across. During the journey you will collect supplies, food, batteries and weapons, solve quests and move forward on the plot, which has several variations in the final, depending on your actions. The addition of numerous endings is very satisfying to see, especially in a game which costs under $15.
When you launch the game, all the language will be displayed in Russian which will confuse many, but after guessing a few words, you can easily find the “English” language option in the settings menu. Although, it doesn’t take much finding, I found this to be slightly frustrating, but hopefully the developers will patch this soon. Once you have sorted that out, you will be greeted by the games stunning visuals as you meet your fellow traveller.
There’s no denying that the developers have done a supremely good job of creating an atmospheric post-apocalyptic world through its stunning visuals and sound design. During my playthrough, I was very impressed with the horrifying sounds of screeching metal and my loud footsteps. The combination of high quality visuals and sound helped create tons of immersion, so much so that it made the hairs on the back of my neck remain stood up for long periods of time. When travelling in the metro, It felt reminiscent of the ‘metro’ game series, with the same level of atmospheric detail.
On the other hand, the story felt just as bleak as the atmosphere. Furthermore, your fellow traveller is supposed to be your ‘friend’ yet for vast sections of the game, you barely speak to one another. For the majority of the time, his only dialogue to you essentially consists of “you need to get an item to get from point A to B”. Moreover, the beginning chapter consists of you walking extremely slowly with your traveller through a long stretch forest, neither character saying barely a single word. This scene, among many, feels extremely awkward and unnatural. The lack of any meaningful character conversation prevents any kind of development between characters, therefore eliminating any potential emotions for their loss. Overall, there isn’t really a plot; the story seems very disjointed, only partially explained by the ending. The only positive element of the story line (if you’d call it that) was the flash backs which were reasonably interesting and gave you a glimpse of the lore behind the epidemic.
Asides from your fellow traveller, you meet only a handful of other characters, none of which say more than two lines and have no unique or interesting characteristics whatsoever. This came as a huge disappointment as I was desperate to talk to someone who actually had a personality, after being stuck with my ‘friend’ for almost two hours. Perhaps, an option to talk to characters manually would help the player know a bit more about the background of characters in the game.
Thankfully, there aren’t many combat scenes in the game; the combat system is clunky and painfully sluggish. There are also quick-time events where you will have to mash the ‘e’ key in order to break out of poor brawls with random characters.
In my playthrough, I noticed a few technical issues such as two game braking bugs where quest items would be invisible, thus forcing me to reload from the last checkpoint. Furthermore, the character movement physics look very outdated; every character seems to walk like a robot.
35MM has some interesting hidden secrets in the form of note/ documents and even an option to help build a jigsaw puzzle for a child. This part of the game confused me; if the developers have the effort to add the option to build a jig saw, why couldn’t they make a satisfying story. Moreover, you would expect little features like this to be tagged on at the end, once the main elements of the game are completed.
In answer to my question, no, 35MM may excel at creating a bleak post-apocalyptic atmosphere with outstanding sound design, but if you are looking for a great story line I would strongly urge you to stay away from this game. Although I believe there was a lot of potential, 35MM failed to deliver something fresh into the genre. Finally, If you like this type of genre, I would strongly recommend the Metro series (Metro 2033/Metro Last light).