NO-cvt’s Void & Meddler introduces you to a world of surreal sleaze; a city bathed in fluorescent light, lost dreams and angst that oozes the cyberpunk aesthetic from every back alley. And, while Void & Meddler is wholly and one hundred percent cyberpunk, it’s also a fresh take on the genre, avoiding the corporate focus most cyberpunk defaults to, and creating a dream world that feels alien, and yet oh so human.
This is a spoiler free review covering Episode 1 and Episode 2 of Void & Meddler. Episode 3 is expected in 2017.
Title: Void & Meddler
Developer: NO-cvt and Black Muffin Studio
Publisher: Mi-Clos Studios
Game Version: Final (Episode 1 and 2 Only)
Review Copy: Provided by Developers
Interface: Keyboard and Mouse
Available on Steam, Humble and Itch.io
The thing was struck most by when firing up Void & Meddler for the first time was the setting. The look and feel of everything, from Fyn’s condo to the crowded subway, to the pulsing music and lights of La Jetee, feels surreal and totally plausible all at once. The world feels lived in, full of bad decisions, confusion and hallucinations, yet there are things that cannot be, like Half-Human Half-animal hybrids wait for subways.
This all works fantastically well in the games pixelated aesthetic. The character art and environmental art are fantastically expressive, and have a massive amount of color and variety. There’s a large number of locales you’ll have to visit throughout the course of Episode 1 and Episode 2, and even more locations you don’t have to visit, but still make for nice trips. Very little is explained to you in this world, which not only makes the world feel lived in and rich, but also pairs wonderfully with the amnesiac motivations of the main character.
The main character of the game is Fyn, a punk musician who has lost all memory, and really, doesn’t have a way to gt them back. Instead, your goal is to find new memories (be they your own or not) and get invested in something. You’ll go about this in a few different ways, and meet a host of characters along the way.
I found the characters a little hard to empathize with in Episode 1: Fyn in particular was a seething messes of angst and destructive behavior that I just couldn’t empathize with. It’s perfect for the setting and fits the cyber-punk genre like a glove, but I saw no redeeming qualities to connect with. The other characters you meet are also destructive, mad and angsty, all in varying degrees. Fyn felt like the prime offender, but I found myself not really carrying about the people: In the first episode, it was easy to be enticed by the world, but hard to give a shit about the people.
This, wonderfully, changes in Episode 2. As Fyn acquires memories, she seems to become more human in some ways. Her emotions start to reveal themselves, and while she’s still biting and sarcastic to point of being an asshole, she clearly now gives a shit about at least some of the people in this city, which makes it loads easier to give a shit about her. The characters were also a lot more varied, had more to do and had more complex motivations. In regards to narrative, the entire game felt like it found its footing and blossomed in Episode 2, which has me incredibly excited for Episode 3.
Mechanically, Void & Meddler is a love letter to the nostaligc point-and-click adventures of old, and largely doesn’t change the formula. You’ve be given cryptic hints and have to go searching for exactly the right widget to open the maguffin to access the area you need to get to to get the key. It’s not bad in any way, but can be incredibly frustrating at times, like all games in this genre. If you love point-and-click adventures, you’re sure to love the gameplay in Void & Meddler. However, if games like Monkey Island have given you undue frustration, this may not be the game for you
In a break from the traditions of point-and-clicks, Void & Meddler does give multiple paths to success for certain key moments in each of the first two episodes. In Episode One, I actually found the ‘hardest’ ending the easiest to logic my way through (other than the considerable back tracking required to find a dictionary). All the parts fit together, and there were pretty reasonable leads to the next step (other than the dicitonary). And, in Episode 2, it became very clear the the ending had multiple tiers, and where you could figure out those tiers if you were willing to put the time in. Additionally, in the episodes final scene, you’r presented with a number of options to progress which I very much appreciated.
While the overarching narrative stays the same no matter which path you choose, it does have an effect on how your FYyn and the world around her, acts and reacts, making the choice feel like it has some weight behind it.
Finally, I’d be remiss if i didn’t mention the music of Void & Meddler. The two lead designers of Void & Meddler, Dorian SRed and Trevor Reveur both started out as punk musicians, who migrated to Indie Game Development after participating in a number of Game Jams. It’s heavy on the synth, mysterious, and dripping with tension. Really, it’s a fantastic listen for fans of synthwave and electronic music I cannot recommend enough.
Void & Meddler is both incredibly nostalgic and wholly unique. While the first episode stumbles a bit in terms of narrative and character development, in introduces us to a surreal cyberpunk city you’ll be eager to explore. Episode 2 remains in the same setting, but takes one dimensional, angsty characters and gives them emotion and motivations worth caring about. The mechanics of point-and-click adventures are tried and true, but Void & Meddler still manages to inject some morally ambiguous choices into the mix. These first two episodes are a fantastic representation of this episodic adventure and we are eager to experience the conclusion.
Stay tuned to IndieHangover’s Youtube Channel, as we have an Interview with Dorian Sred and Trevor Reveur coming later this week!