The thought of office work fills me with dread. Sitting in a little cubicle filing paperwork all day must be mind-numbing. How about you blend this cold environment with a dehumanised existence in a dystopian future? How would that make you feel? The Plane Effect sells this horrendous image in its bleak and heartless isometric world.
Developed by Studio Kiko and Innovina Interactive and published by PQube, this is an adventure puzzle title. This grey and oppressive world lacks empathy and warmth. The protagonist wanders the landscape silently as he pieces together clues to overcome the many obstacles in his path.
The Plane Effect is a surreal and depressing game that’ll catch your attention.
Finishing your career is supposed to be a happy occasion. Years of your life have been invested into your work and you are supposed to be valued. However, The Plane Effect emphasises its dystopian outlook by creating an empty existence for our retiring hero.
The plot revolves around a man who leaves his office for the final time. His journey to reach his home and family is stranger than usual and you get the sense that something or someone is trying to stop him. His usual trip isn’t normally this complicated, however, the simplest of tasks are challenging and time-consuming.
The isolation of every portion of his journey is soul-destroying, and the story has a depressing undertone. This wouldn’t usually be my thing, but the distinct and controlling vibes work perfectly with the setting and create an eerie and oppressive atmosphere.
Tricky puzzles and three difficulty options.
The Plane Effect isn’t the easiest of puzzle adventure games I’ve played. Its gameplay focuses on exploration while scouring for answers. This was a great concept that worked perfectly for veteran puzzlers, but for less experienced players, the developers offered a helping hand. The choice of three difficulty settings enables you to play with no hints, limited help, or a permanent guide. This was an excellent approach that levels the difficulty curve. I selected the middle option and found the balance between freedom and advice to be just right.
However, even with the hints, many of the puzzles were tricky to solve. There is a heavy reliance on tasks being completed in a specific order, and missing finer details can hold you back. Moreover, many of the problems were environment-dependent, and each location generated new and interesting mechanics for you to try to piece together. Whether you are finding a lost ticket, scrambling around for coins, playing with electricity, or more, you’ll test your brain while enjoying the bizarre surreal landscape.
The Plane Effect is striking to look at.
Using a cold colour palette is an effective way to highlight the oppressive nature of a dystopian future. However, The Plane Effect has also captured this within its sparse environment. Moreover, the empty locations and lack of human contact are worrying and the lack of emotion is downright cruel! Yet, I loved this callous approach, and I also adored the weird dreamy locations and the smattering of vivid colours. They were cleverly incorporated to guide you from A to B or to highlight danger or an obstacle. It’s a deceptively simple method that works with the genre while maintaining the futuristic and damning outlook.
With no spoken dialogue, the gameplay relies on text and music to enhance the atmosphere. This is beautifully achieved with its calm but haunting piano music. The slow-paced soundtrack matches the methodical approach required to solve the many problems and the occasional noises from the protagonist. These were nice touches that completed the game’s emotionally starved ambience.
Controlling an office worker has never been so easy.
I didn’t expect this to be challenging to control, and I wasn’t wrong. The developers have created a well thought out button layout that is simple to understand. The controls are responsive and you are assisted by helpful icons that highlight interactive objects. Furthermore, there are no requirements to select items in your inventory. Therefore, if you are holding the ‘solution’ to a puzzle, this is sufficient to remove the obstacle in your path. This was a fantastic decision as anything more complex would have been frustrating and an unnecessary layer.
As with most puzzle adventure games, the desire to play it again is somewhat reduced. With no additional game modes or NG+ options, you won’t experience something new the second time around. Fortunately, however, the longevity is increased because of the achievements you can miss. Completionists will require luck and a fine eye for detail if they wish to finish this.
The Plane Effect is a fantastically cold and depressing look into our future.
If my future is anything like The Plane Effect, I don’t want to get there! However, I loved the sparse environment, cold and sterile atmosphere, and the lack of emotion and warmth. The puzzles and exploration aspects will push you to your limit and test your logical approach. I loved it and recommend you to buy it here! Will you be able to navigate the surreal journey or will the oppressive world get the better of you?