Flashback Game Review

Release Date: August 21 2013
Platforms: XBL Arcade & PSN
Developer: VectorCell
Publisher: Ubisoft

Is the modern day remake worthy of its decades old predecessor, or will the reimagining of a classic have you experiencing flashbacks of a better time.

Flashback: The Quest for Identity released back in 1992, threw players into its world with little to no backstory. You awoke in a tropical jungle completely unaware of how you came to be there, or why. The idea was as you progressed through the game the wider conspiracy and your role in these events unfolded around you, fairly standard story telling for a video game, right?

Well no actually, it may seem standard fare for video games nowadays but back then this was revolutionary and Flashback didn’t stop there either. The entire game filled you with a palpable feeling of dread and danger because you were considerably less capable than your average video game hero. A simple stumble or fall could kill you and the animation of your character was so impressive, the gravity of your actions was not just felt, but you could see it too. To say that this was rare back then would be a massive understatement. It was unheard of.

Jump to 2013 and Ubisoft has released a full blown update to the 90’s classic for the Xbox360 and PS3, available through either Xbox Live Arcade or the PlayStation Network. The reimagined Flashback has been developed by VectorCell, a developer which includes several members of the team behind the original, and whilst it does make several changes to the formula. Such as no rotoscoped animation, an upgrade system and enhanced controls, the game certainly encapsulates a large amount of the spirit of the original.

With that said as much as I would love to tell you that the reimagined Flashback captures everything great about the 90’s classic, builds upon its revolutionary gameplay, creating something truly remarkable. It doesn’t. It’s completely forgettable. The problem, is although much of what made the original great is here, all of it is ruined by gameplay elements that have been added since the original that either make no sense or actually make the game worse.

The upgrade system for example, upon the completion of each level you receive points that can be spent in one of three categories – Accuracy, Technology & Stamina. By spending points in these categories you receive perks such as increased health, reduced fall damage and an increase to your chance for critical hits. Now the problem with the skill system is none of these alleged perks seem to have any tangible impact on your character. So much so that it’s not even worth bothering with.

The combat is also so intrusive and monotonous it completely ruins your attempts at trying to carefully navigate your way through the levels. Most of the time the enemy AI, instead of attacking you from a distance, will continue moving towards you until they are literally bouncing off your body, requiring you to back pedal in order to try and hit them. The overall story is also marred with problems due to its poor pacing, bad voice acting and because unfortunately it’s just badly written.

Then there is Conrad the games protagonist, he has absolutely zero personality, not to metion thats coupled with what is essentially just a generic hero ‘look’. Throw in some awful lines, and you have possibly the worst video game hero ever. You can see what they were going for, which makes it worse. Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series. Here it just doesn’t work.

Flashback is ultimately a very disappointing game, whereas the original paved the way for the future. This if anything tarnishes the very memory, instead of building upon what made the original great, which is largely what all great remakes should do. Now you could argue that for £6.99 you cant really complain, but that's just it, anyone who has played the original would tell you they'd happily drop £10 for a remake of the original, frame by frame using a modern engine. Instead we got this, which I'm afraid I cant, with good conscience recommend to anyone.


Words by Chris Messenger