Tarr Chronicles PC Review
It’s not often that I get confused about something. I like to think of myself as intelligent and able to get my head around most things I come across. The plot in Tarr Chronicles, however, took me to a whole new world of confusion and headaches.
Just reading the introductory passage in the manual will leave you staring blankly at the page and questioning whether what you just read really did make no sense whatsoever. Sadly the in-game portrayal of the game’s plot is no better, and this is just one aspect of Tarr Chronicles that makes it a game only for space game nuts and/or masochists.
After struggling to work out what you’re actually meant to be doing in terms of the storyline, the first mission offers a taste of what’s to come; reasonably pretty visuals, lots of laser fire and endless moments of asking the screen, “what?”. The story, from what I can make out, follows a human pilot (that’s you) and his team as they battle an entity called the Mirk that’s destroying everything in the universe. That’s it at its most basic level, but trust me, it gets far, far more complex and confusing. Deep and involving plots are becoming commonplace in games now and are usually welcome, but when new races and characters are introduced constantly with little or no explanation of who they are, it makes for an unfathomable storyline. Your co-pilots have conversations amongst themselves and with other allies, but these go by so fast that by the time you’ve taken in what’s been said, they’ve already moved onto something else and you’re left with another “what?” moment.
The fact that this all takes place at the same time that you’re supposed to be battling enemies and flying through space means that your attention has to be split between the two, and this simply doesn’t allow for you to concentrate on either. It’s debatable whether stopping completely and following the plot would make it any clearer anyway, but the fact is you shouldn’t have to do that. Admittedly the action in each mission is basic at best, consisting of endless dogfights and not much else. Occasionally other objectives are thrown into the mix, such as protecting a vessel or taking out a particular weapon, but essentially it’s ‘fly here, take out the enemies, repeat’.
With the plot being so hard to follow and the action becoming so repetitive and stale after the first few missions, the question of why you’re bothering to continue playing soon creeps into your head. To be fair to the game it’s not all bad; the visuals are quite pretty, especially the explosions and the obligatory stars, nebulas and galaxies in the distance, and there are some nice effects when your ship twists and turns or boosts. The mouse control is smooth and effective, and a useful targeting reticule shows you where to aim when following enemy targets.
There’s also an interesting feature in which you can modify parts of your ship and create your own equipment. This is the only part of the game that derives from the mediocrity of the rest, and if you like the idea of tinkering with your ship and modifying your items, you’ll more than likely spend some time here.
However, the combination of not really knowing what’s going on and the repetitive nature of the missions makes the game less and less appealing, and the few positive points will only help sustain interest for a short period of time. Other visuals, such as enemy craft or general space gubbins are nothing special, and there’s nothing in the way of audio in the game that’s noteworthy. Battles are enjoyable initially, but become old quickly, and because of the game’s failings in other key areas, it’s hard to recommend Tarr Chronicles to anyone except the most ardent fan of space combat games.
Fun for a short time, but quickly descends into a dull and repetitive affair. Stock up on paracetamol if you decide to take this game on.