Review: Warp (XBLA)

Review: Warp (XBLA)

The first of this year’s House Party titles, Warp is an incredibly complex and deep adventure that metaphorically addresses a plethora of key societal and political issues within the guise of experimentation on a captured alien in a secret underwater laboratory. Free will, gender and race equality, political corruption, and more all make appearances in the most intelligent game I think ever produced. Warp is, truly, not only the game of our generation, but the game of our species.

If you believed any of that, I have a bridge in San Francisco I’d like to sell you. Slightly used, very red. A bargain at $500,000.

Zero, the alien character you control in Warp, has been captured and experimented on by human scientists. During some standard testing procedures, Zero manages to reconnect with his power source, causing a strong reaction in his human captors. With his power source reconnected, Zero recovers his ability to warp (see what they did there?) across very short distances. How short? You can get through most walls, but a double-thick door or obstructions on the other side of a wall will stop you.

As I started the game, I was expecting a fairly low-key, low-stress puzzle adventure. The point of the game was to escape while avoiding human security, so stealth and problem solving seemed to be key elements. Zero can warp into some inanimate objects (barrels, giant transistors, turrets, etc.) and use them as cover. While in these inanimate objects, he becomes capable of blowing them up in order to damage electronic systems or clear a path for a grub (collectible items that are used as currency in the upgrade stores). The control mechanism for blowing up an occupied object, spinning your left joystick around for 5-10 seconds, is very awkward, and probably not very good for the life of your controller. Aside from that, everything seemed peachy.

Until you reach a point a few minutes into the game where your perception of the game changes drastically. While trying to escape, you come upon a room with a dead scientist laid out on a table. The scientist becomes highlighted as a warp-accepting object, and I immediately thought, “Awesome! I’ll be able to warp into this body and move around in it as a mobile disguise!” With that thought in mind, I warped into it, only to be given the control option for blowing it up and filling the room with mad gibs. At this point, the game informed me that not only could Zero warp into certain inanimate objects, but into the humans populating the laboratory. Now, Warp has gone from an endearing puzzler to something slightly different.

Aside from the basic concept of warping your way to freedom, there are a couple of additional features to the title. I mentioned upgrades earlier, which are achieved by warping into upgrade stations. Here, you can purchase upgrades to Zero’s abilities, such as silent warping and silent movement, as well as new abilities. The aforementioned grubs are used as currency, which make grub collecting very important, and very beneficial. Another feature is the inclusion of challenge rooms. Challenge rooms are accessed by warping into challenge room access points. They are fairly shadowy areas that test your skills and abilities with a stopwatch. Your friends’ best times are listed in each challenge room’s leaderboard, and strong performance earns you additional grubs for your upgrading needs.

Is Warp perfect? No. It doesn’t have enough appeal to really keep your attention on a long-term basis. I wouldn’t be able to sit and play through the entire game in one uninterrupted session without becoming mentally fatigued and a bit annoyed. It is, however, a good game to pick up and progress through a few checkpoints when you want to break up the monotony of your day. The mechanics are not perfect, and occasionally become very frustrating, but a break from the game can help calm nerves before re-attempting some of the more poorly designed areas. I would have picked a different title to start off this year’s House Party event, but at 800MSP, Warp isn’t a bad purchase. Just make sure you have an extra controller around for when your left joystick inevitably snaps off.


Good warp mechanic
Short term fun
Poor explosion controls
Bad for long gameplay sessions
Occasionally frustrating areas
70 out of 100

I’m the Ambassador of Kickyourassador. I am the Walrus. I’m on a highway to the Danger Zone. I am the Kwisatz Haderach.

I do things with words that have a generally geeky gist.

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