♌️♈️♋️♓️♊️ This is the Zodiac Speaking | Review | PS4 | "In short, I was in the zone" ♌️♈️♋️♓️♊️ #zodiacthegame @zodiac_the_game #IndieGames #GameDev

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Game Title: This is the Zodiac Speaking

Platform Reviewed: PS4

Rating: 5/10

A cool idea based on real-life crimes marred by esoteric implementation and some relatively serious technical issues.

In a happy coincidence, I had watched David Fincher’s 2007 slow-burn thriller Zodiac only weeks before receiving This is the Zodiac Speaking for review and, having a close friend harbouring dark obsessions with serial murderers, I was already acquainted with the heinous, unsolved crimes that plagued California in the ‘70s. 

In short, I was in the zone.

A first-person mystery adventure, This is the Zodiac begins with the protagonist, Robert, walking around his flat as he tries to unravel the killer’s most recent, cryptic message.  

The visuals are quite stylised and somewhat drab, I put this down to the general brownness that existed in that era but upon moving, there was some serious screen-tearing that was so constant that I almost thought it was a genuine design choice as the viewing area itself feels almost like you are gazing through a camera lens. 

The game gives you two ways to play, the standard mode and a story mode. The standard mode is almost identical to the story mode with the exception that it contains a handful of stealth sequences whereby the Zodiac appears and you have to piece together dream-sequences as he stalks you. 

I must admit that I started in the standard mode but then reset in story mode as it seemed silly having a man that evaded capture by the police for so long just ambling around a car park as I circled around him in a crouch.

The voice acting is very variable in quality, with Robert sounding somewhat emotionally distanced and dreamlike, which works for his character but the Zodiac sounds silly and the moments when he gets his hands on you in the game have no real impact, which is a real shame as he comes across more as an irritant than a credible, frightening threat.

The different acts that make up the game feels like they’ve been put together from a patchwork of ideas. Wandering around Robert’s house, listening to his half-sane ramblings and completing inventory-based puzzles (alongside drinking in the retro-ness) is quite immersive but when you end up having bland, directionless conversations with a doctor and leaping into buggy dream sequences, it starts to get shaky. 

My run-through came to an early end because I reached a spot where the graphics wouldn’t load in properly and I couldn’t proceed.

If This is the Zodiac focused on mood and ambience with a more earthy narrative, it wouldn’t feel as disparate. 

As it stands, the fractured gameplay and technical problems bog down the experience. 

On the PS4 version at least, this is a couple of patches away for being a recommendable title and even then to people who have a vested interest in the genre.


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