The Imperfect Robot – The Uncertain Episode 1 Review

Intercom communication begins

After the Dagestan Technology circus troupe debuted on the digital spaces of the Steam store, it became problematic to navigate the Russian indie scene. Young talents realized that Uncle Gabe’s shop is open to any junk, and from the “Greenlight” flowed a continuous stream of impurities of domestic production. After all, as long as collectible cards and hilarious badges are trending, anything will sell.

And the most unpleasant thing is that such games make noise. Any one-dollar trinket about kumis (I swear, I’ve seen one) resonates much stronger through playful recommendations and communities “from 14 to 16 and a half” than serious and relatively large projects through traditional advertising. To such an extent that the latter often do not appear in the feed of an ordinary user’s recommendations at all.

It’s all the more important to regularly bring to the surface the rare gems that desperately refuse to let us give up on our independent game development. It’s all too easy to overlook the wonderful Message Quest, the solid Legends of Eisenwald, the shaky but good 35MM – or, for instance, The Uncertain.

A mysterious

I first encountered her at the St. Petersburg “Starcon” last year. On a modest, unremarkable stand, there was a short but charming demo of a game, whose creators passionately talked about how they were bringing back the true essence of the adventure genre, inspired by Telltale’s approach. It would have been a shame not to be interested.

Now it is clear that our ideas of the “true essence” differ in many ways, but I didn’t have to regret that The Uncertain had been on my radar all this time.

The first impression – naturally, visual and auditory – the game makes is thoroughly positive. With many indie games, you tend to be somewhat forgiving of artistic roughness, but the design here doesn’t require any leniency. The visuals are not particularly fancy, but they are detailed and stylistically well-executed, which deserves praise in honest 3D. And the music, oh, the music! Perhaps, a large part of the atmosphere here is held together by the ambient soundtrack, melancholic and slightly oppressive.

Curious booping sound


“What’s so sad, you ask? Well, here, by the way, humanity has long ceased to exist. They fought – now the planet is being trampled by the robots that remained after the humans. They founded their own society, settled in the empty ruins of the old world, and promised not to repeat the mistakes of their creators. Unfortunately, the excessive social structure of machines does not extend to the real world, and we cannot see the new civilization with our own eyes. Just believe that everything exists and works somewhere off-screen.

In the frame, there is Arti (according to his passport – RT-217NP), a hermit robot, an amateur engineer, and also an amateur historian. He has few worries in his peaceful rural life – maybe just an annoyed employer calling about a late order, and that’s it. In short, an ordinary guy, even if he has a battery instead of a heart.

And to make him truly ordinary, something extraordinary must happen to Arti. For example, a shuttle full of plot spoilers and reasons to save the world must simply crash in front of his house. Isn’t that what all ordinary guys do?”

Urban street exploration

Furthermore, The Uncertain strictly follows familiar tropes so much that you are literally preparing for a catch throughout the entire playthrough. And yet, no, the script seems to fit every key moment into a template. Evil authorities – check. Rebel base – of course. Detective storyline – how can it be without one. A couple of nuances make the clichés slightly more palatable than usual, but the problem remains. This is an absolutely predictable story in which the known variables are roboticized and devoid of emotions.

The most painful aspect of the narrative is the characters. They are empty, non-existent characters. It’s understandable if they are just extras, reserved for future episodes, but when there is no connection between the player and the main character, it’s a lost cause. RT-217NP is simply not interesting. The only source of his charisma is the naively logical comments he makes while analyzing the remnants of human life, and this technique, to put it mildly, becomes tiresome. Especially in combination with the monotonous voice acting: listening to dry remarks about “these clueless people” over and over again becomes unbearable after half an hour.

Perhaps there is a separate author’s message in this, but it is not conveyed through the right means. If they are robots by nature, it is not necessary to make them robots in terms of personality. Primordia, for example, managed to excellently portray the nature of artificial intelligence without sacrificing colorful characters or lively dialogues. Considering the similarity of these games in certain plot motifs, this counterexample is more than illustrative.

Encounter with the police

A screenshot that evokes spontaneous associations with XCOM. In a good way.

As for the actual process, it is clearly influenced by Telltale projects. However, The Uncertain approaches the matter more inventively while maintaining the same standard of control and interaction with the environment. Art’s path is filled with puzzles of all kinds, from classic item searches to original sound puzzles. They are solved quickly, but the variety of activities keeps you entertained until the very end.

However, sometimes in such situations, there is a very strict sequence of actions. In simpler terms, the hero ignores or refuses to pick up items scattered around until they are needed to overcome an obstacle. From a real-world perspective, this approach is correct, but without this convention, the game environment becomes uncomfortable. You have to constantly go back and forth between screens, doing what you were simply not allowed to do immediately. Even on a small scale, this can be slightly annoying.

The pilot episode turned out to be criminally short, but due to the rich world full of tasks, the feeling of brevity is not present. There is a lot of gameplay packed into a short amount of time, compared to something like Tales from the Borderlands. And remembering the terrible arcade inserts towards the end, there might even be too much. The last time such a blatant violation of the natural rhythm occurred was, it seems, in Dreamfall with its fighting mechanics. Brrr… That’s where a beautiful QTE video would definitely not be out of place.

Puzzling challenges ahead

Nevertheless, strictly in terms of gameplay, The Uncertain surpasses what Telltale is currently occupied with. Despite all its quirks, it is still more interesting to play than the annual “Press F to watch a movie”. The only catch is that their “movies” still take your breath away, while poor Artie has nothing significant to offer yet.

In general, there were some shortcomings, but ComonGames did not make any fatal mistakes. Everything described above can be fixed, and The Uncertain is fully capable of steering in the right direction by the next episode. The main thing is not to abandon it, as is often the case with indie series.

The Uncertain
Adventure, Indie
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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