Putting the 'role' back in role-playing games since 2002.
Donate to Codex
Good Old Games
  • Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.

Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Ctrl Alt Ego

Infinitron

I post news
Staff Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2011
Messages
97,421
Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Tags: Ctrl Alt Ego; MindThunk

Codexers love playing immersive sims almost as much as they love arguing about the term "immersive sim". They might not get to play them as often as they'd like, as it's generally believed that developing immersive sims requires a budget that only professional AAA studios can provide. However, in recent years some indie developers have begun to experiment in the genre. One such title is last year's Ctrl Alt Ego, an immersive sim with a unique premise from one-man English indie studio MindThunk. You play as a disembodied consciousness on board a virus-stricken space station with the ability to assume control of robots and other machines. It's a humble title, but esteemed user udm was impressed enough by it that he decided to write this insightful review. Although the game starts out feeling more like a Portal clone, it eventually reveals itself to be something greater.

And this is where the fun really begins: there are a total of 11 skills that Bug 22 can learn, with each skill having a small but varied selection of upgrades. These skills range from mundane ones like turning your arm into a shotgun, to turning it into a drill to break down other bots, to being able to convert any object into an unstable explosive. At harder difficulties, I would recommend against taking the straightforward options because alerted enemies automatically have a shield that makes them invincible (unless you have a certain upgrade in a certain skill that certainly instakills them).

Apart from the aforementioned, because of how varied the skills and upgrades are, you can accomplish tasks in almost any way you please so long as it is feasible within the constraints of the map. It never gets old converting an enemy MOM into a walking bomb, then having it enter a room full of other enemies. You can even do a pacifist run if you so please, turning yourself invisible and using the VacQ (a vacuum cleaner to suck up small objects, or to suck YOU towards big objects) to dart about swiftly from room to room. A lot of times, you don’t even have to use any of your skills if you don’t want to, as you can just hide behind boxes and wait for imminent threats to pass you by. Stealth isn’t light-based for those of you wondering, though it is still very much a viable option.

The maps are an absolute joy to explore and exploit. The initial chapters start off more like linear puzzle maps, though despite that, you still have many ways to overcome challenges: other than Bug 22's skills, you can also turn the environment to your advantage. Most items can be moved around and used as a tool of some sort; rarely will you enter a room that does not have at least one exploitable feature. It’s up to you how you want to play within the constraints of the game’s physics. Hide or confront, sabotage or ignore, there are so many ways to overcome a given problem.

The AI is also competent at tracking you down. If you try to hide behind a box right in front of a hostile, it will start to grow suspicious. When you move the box around, the hostile machine’s suspicion grows, until it decides it’s had enough of your nonsense and zaps away your cover. It is also quick to pick up on your presence if you take control of an enemy and start attacking them with their own mate. But, again, because there are so many ways to accomplish an objective, you can mix and match strategies. You can use a combination of stealth and brute force, or a combination of sabotage and subterfuge. It’s your playground.

There are a total of 8 chapters, and I must say that from Chapters 1 to 6, I treated the game more like a puzzle game than a simulation. It was very reminiscent of Portal in the way the maps of these 6 chapters were designed. I might be going out on a limb here, but it felt like the design philosophy for those earlier chapters was to only present the player with a series of challenges of escalating difficulty as games from the puzzle genre normally do. This was evident in the various MacGuffins that you had to go after, with a simple narrative to tie everything together. I did have a good time as each chapter got progressively more difficult, but I never really felt like I was playing an “immersive sim”.

And then, I was greeted by Chapters 7 and 8.

The map layout and design of these two chapters blew my mind. Not only were the maps huge, easily beating Chapters 1 to 6 in scale, but there was so much to do. There was so much to discover, so many access points and routes to traverse across the stations. Many games tend to fall apart towards the later levels, but CAE maintains a strong consistency in quality. At no point did I feel the developers dropped the ball and got sloppy to rush out the product. Bear in mind that this was developed by a team of two to three guys, making it even more mind-blowing!

I can’t say more about these last two chapters without ruining the surprise you get when you reach that point but be prepared to do a lot of exploration. Not only are they huge, but most major areas are interconnected in some way. It’s a very nice mix of closed corridors and big open spaces, two glorious playgrounds for you to mess around with whichever tools you fancy.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Ctrl Alt Ego
 

Zombra

An iron rock in the river of blood and evil
Patron
Joined
Jan 12, 2004
Messages
11,573
Location
Black Goat Woods !@#*%&^
Make the Codex Great Again! RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In Codex Year of the Donut Codex+ Now Streaming! Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Nice review udm. Please post to collect your brofists here :)

Really hope this gets more eyes on this overlooked treasure of a game. It's inexcusable for our official thread to only be 2 pages long. Just goes to show the majority of the Codex can't see true quality. (Not the person reading this though - you have good taste.)
 

udm

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Messages
2,754
Make the Codex Great Again!
Nice review udm. Please post to collect your brofists here :)

Really hope this gets more eyes on this overlooked treasure of a game. It's inexcusable for our official thread to only be 2 pages long. Just goes to show the majority of the Codex can't see true quality. (Not the person reading this though - you have good taste.)
Thanks mate! Yeah I think it's up the alley of many Codexians, so I hope the review draws more attention to it.
 

udm

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Messages
2,754
Make the Codex Great Again!
Is this something like Space Station Silicon Valley?
I only just skimmed through 8 minutes of the Space Station Silicon Valley longplay to answer this question, so the following may be presumptuous, but it seems only the possession mechanic and perhaps a bit of the weird science theme are somewhat similar. Even then there are big differences, like how you can take control of machines over long distances in CAE (offering interesting ways to bring down difficult enemies), and how its maps are closer to the design of an LGS game than an N64 one.
 

Elthosian

Arcane
Joined
Mar 14, 2012
Messages
1,138
Nice review udm. Please post to collect your brofists here :)

Really hope this gets more eyes on this overlooked treasure of a game. It's inexcusable for our official thread to only be 2 pages long. Just goes to show the majority of the Codex can't see true quality. (Not the person reading this though - you have good taste.)
Thanks mate! Yeah I think it's up the alley of many Codexians, so I hope the review draws more attention to it.

It worked for me, I had been playing primarily SRPGs lately so hearing that there was a :obviously: inmersive sim around was enough for me to buy it without even reading the review (sorry, gotta keep the gameplay spoilers at minimum). So far I can't say much about the sim aspects but the TAB texts and the setting have been quite endearing. Good stuff.
 

Denim Destroyer

Learned
Joined
Mar 20, 2021
Messages
430
Location
Moonglow, Britannia
When I finished CAE, I was somewhat saddened by the realisation that it will be a while before another game like it comes along
Ctrl Alt Ego is one of those games which should by all means become an immediate classic but is overlooked by the general audience. Despite looking like your average Unity asset flip and other obvious budget restriction, this game has more passion put into it than any AAA game released in the last fifteen years. Hopefully it will not be that long before another game like it comes around.
 

Grampy_Bone

Arcane
Joined
Jan 25, 2016
Messages
3,666
Location
Wandering the world randomly in search of maps
I wanted to know who came up with the dumb term "immersive sim" and it turns out it was some asshole named... Warren Spector, quoting Doug Church. Oh.

https://www.pcgamer.com/the-designe...tories-about-making-pcs-most-complex-games/3/

Tom: The other thing I'm excited for for the future of immersive sims: I hope we come up with a better name. [laughs]

PC Gamer: I was actually going to ask, I don't know if it's common knowledge where the term came from. Was it a Kieron Gillen-coined term, or if it predated his writing on the genre.

Warren: I think Doug Church was the one who came up with that, isn't he? He's the first person I ever heard use it.

Harvey: I don't know, I remember a conversation with Rob Fermier, I think on Twitter, where we were trying to figure out where that term had come from. I think Rob's conclusion was that he first heard it from Doug, as well.

Warren: Yeah, and we all hated it! It fell out of favor for awhile and recently it seems like it's come back. It's really odd.

PC Gamer: Has anyone come up with a description they like better?

Warren: No.

At least they all agree it sucks.

I think we should rename the genre to "Church-Spector" games, after the main designers. That would also cause maximum autism among codexers. "Hey this game isn't a Church-spector, it doesn't have churches OR spectres!"
 

udm

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Messages
2,754
Make the Codex Great Again!
By the way I just realised there may be some confusion here:
There are a total of 8 chapters, and I must say that from Chapters 1 to 6, I treated the game more like a puzzle game than a simulation. It was very reminiscent of Portal in the way the maps of these 6 chapters were designed. I might be going out on a limb here, but it felt like the design philosophy for those earlier chapters was to only present the player with a series of challenges of escalating difficulty as games from the puzzle genre normally do. This was evident in the various MacGuffins that you had to go after, with a simple narrative to tie everything together. I did have a good time as each chapter got progressively more difficult, but I never really felt like I was playing an “immersive sim”.
To clarify the bolded part, it's not that the maps look like Portal's, but that the execution is utilitarian, with more emphasis on function than style (hence the comment that they felt more like puzzle maps). The environment and narrative are less interwoven. It's only until chapter 7 that the environment plays a greater role in telling the story too.
 
Last edited:

Spukrian

Savant
Joined
May 28, 2016
Messages
680
Location
Lost Continent of Mu
Weird coincidence, I just started playing this earlier this week. It's one of those games where I constantly think "I'll just play for a few more minutes" then I suddenly realize I've been playing for 3 hours...
 

Darth Roxor

Royal Dongsmith
Staff Member
Joined
May 29, 2008
Messages
1,878,470
Location
Djibouti
You play as a disembodied consciousness on board a virus-stricken space station with the ability to assume control of robots and other machines.

Now that I think about it, the idea reminds me a lot of Messiah, but with bots.
 

udm

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Messages
2,754
Make the Codex Great Again!
I emailed the dev to let him know about the review, and got this as a reply.

rDXoZso.jpg

:bounce:
 

Kev Inkline

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Nov 17, 2015
Messages
5,094
A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
I wanted to know who came up with the dumb term "immersive sim" and it turns out it was some asshole named... Warren Spector, quoting Doug Church. Oh.

https://www.pcgamer.com/the-designe...tories-about-making-pcs-most-complex-games/3/

Tom: The other thing I'm excited for for the future of immersive sims: I hope we come up with a better name. [laughs]

PC Gamer: I was actually going to ask, I don't know if it's common knowledge where the term came from. Was it a Kieron Gillen-coined term, or if it predated his writing on the genre.

Warren: I think Doug Church was the one who came up with that, isn't he? He's the first person I ever heard use it.

Harvey: I don't know, I remember a conversation with Rob Fermier, I think on Twitter, where we were trying to figure out where that term had come from. I think Rob's conclusion was that he first heard it from Doug, as well.

Warren: Yeah, and we all hated it! It fell out of favor for awhile and recently it seems like it's come back. It's really odd.

PC Gamer: Has anyone come up with a description they like better?

Warren: No.

At least they all agree it sucks.

I think we should rename the genre to "Church-Spector" games, after the main designers. That would also cause maximum autism among codexers. "Hey this game isn't a Church-spector, it doesn't have churches OR spectres!"
I like this label. I can imagine it being used like:

"The game definitely passes Church-Spector test, so you can readily expect to be immersed in its world."
 

Cyberarmy

Love fool
Patron
Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Messages
8,460
Location
Smyrna - Scalanouva
Divinity: Original Sin 2
"Perhaps due to the way physics work, Bug 22 has the tendency to move around like a drunkard, causing the view to yaw left and right at times. When you HOP from one machine to another, it also feels like a mini rollercoaster ride. All of that added up, and you’ve got a good recipe for motion sickness. "

I was planning to play this one but now I'm conflicted :/
 

udm

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Messages
2,754
Make the Codex Great Again!
"Perhaps due to the way physics work, Bug 22 has the tendency to move around like a drunkard, causing the view to yaw left and right at times. When you HOP from one machine to another, it also feels like a mini rollercoaster ride. All of that added up, and you’ve got a good recipe for motion sickness. "

I was planning to play this one but now I'm conflicted :/
Yeah I'm gonna have to be very honest here, if you've ever gotten motion sickness from any FPS before, there's a good chance this game will trigger it. As I mentioned in the main thread on General Gaming, I experienced pretty bad motion sickness for the first 6-8 hours. It's only after I started getting used to the way things worked (and with some help from the accessibility options) that I was able to play without feeling much dizziness.
 

Zombra

An iron rock in the river of blood and evil
Patron
Joined
Jan 12, 2004
Messages
11,573
Location
Black Goat Woods !@#*%&^
Make the Codex Great Again! RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In Codex Year of the Donut Codex+ Now Streaming! Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
"Perhaps due to the way physics work, Bug 22 has the tendency to move around like a drunkard, causing the view to yaw left and right at times. When you HOP from one machine to another, it also feels like a mini rollercoaster ride. All of that added up, and you’ve got a good recipe for motion sickness. "
I was planning to play this one but now I'm conflicted :/
Yeah, this is an ideal use of the 2 hour Steam refund window. Use those accessibility options! I'd hate for you to miss this without at least trying it :(
 

Cyberarmy

Love fool
Patron
Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Messages
8,460
Location
Smyrna - Scalanouva
Divinity: Original Sin 2
"Perhaps due to the way physics work, Bug 22 has the tendency to move around like a drunkard, causing the view to yaw left and right at times. When you HOP from one machine to another, it also feels like a mini rollercoaster ride. All of that added up, and you’ve got a good recipe for motion sickness. "

I was planning to play this one but now I'm conflicted :/
Yeah I'm gonna have to be very honest here, if you've ever gotten motion sickness from any FPS before, there's a good chance this game will trigger it. As I mentioned in the main thread on General Gaming, I experienced pretty bad motion sickness for the first 6-8 hours. It's only after I started getting used to the way things worked (and with some help from the accessibility options) that I was able to play without feeling much dizziness.

The worst thing is, once it triggers for me, my fucking brain always remembers it with that game. Still gonna try it though, kept my eye on this one for some time.
 

Zombra

An iron rock in the river of blood and evil
Patron
Joined
Jan 12, 2004
Messages
11,573
Location
Black Goat Woods !@#*%&^
Make the Codex Great Again! RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In Codex Year of the Donut Codex+ Now Streaming! Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
The worst thing is, once it triggers for me, my fucking brain always remembers it with that game. Still gonna try it though, kept my eye on this one for some time.
That sounds awful. Be sure to enable all the accessibility stuff before you start then. Obvious advice I guess
 

Jinn

Arcane
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
4,952
Having been a rather large advocate of this game around here, I do have to say that upon finishing and letting it sit in my mind for awhile, I do have some major problems with it - in particular its aggressive assertion that it's an "immersive sim." In a lot of ways, it plays more like a puzzle game with an upgrade system. Now don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it greatly, but it certainly isn't what I'm looking for in the genre as a whole.
 

Jenkem

その目、だれの目?
Patron
Vatnik
Joined
Nov 30, 2016
Messages
8,886
Location
An oasis of love and friendship.
Make the Codex Great Again! Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. I helped put crap in Monomyth
Nice review udm. Please post to collect your brofists here :)

Really hope this gets more eyes on this overlooked treasure of a game. It's inexcusable for our official thread to only be 2 pages long. Just goes to show the majority of the Codex can't see true quality. (Not the person reading this though - you have good taste.)

1688510991372.png


I played the game in November of last year after getting it in a sale and never saw your thread, it's happened to a lot of threads when they did something to the codex that made a lot of watched threads/forums disappear :argh:
also I probably searched in general rpg not general gaming because to me the game is as much as an RPG compared to other things that are on that forum like asscrud, etc. you actually have tons of c&c, upgrades, etc. I generally view all games that fall under the "immersive sim" label to be RPGs..

but yes I've said in other various threads about ImSims to "play ctrl-alt-del you COWARDS" but they won't, because they are cowards.
 

Jenkem

その目、だれの目?
Patron
Vatnik
Joined
Nov 30, 2016
Messages
8,886
Location
An oasis of love and friendship.
Make the Codex Great Again! Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. I helped put crap in Monomyth
Having been a rather large advocate of this game around here, I do have to say that upon finishing and letting it sit in my mind for awhile, I do have some major problems with it - in particular its aggressive assertion that it's an "immersive sim." In a lot of ways, it plays more like a puzzle game with an upgrade system. Now don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it greatly, but it certainly isn't what I'm looking for in the genre as a whole.
disagree on it not being an immersive sim, it does everything that the label demands. it's a large 3d space with consistent and responsive systems that allows the player ultimate freedom of choice, using the systems however they see fit to work through the space and achieve goals. there are multiple ways to get from one floor to the next depending on your build and playstyle. everything is driven by player choice and interaction with the world through its systems, how is it NOT an immersive sim? The term "immersive sim" ranges from something like Deus Ex to Thief, both wildly different games, but the reason they are both thought of as ImSims is due to the choices made by players through interacting with the systems and the bespoke in-game world. Arkane's Prey is also regarded as an ImSim but I would say that Ctrl-Alt-Ego has MUCH more player agency than Prey, for instance.

Not sure exactly what you mean by "puzzle" as any "puzzle" in CAE is pretty much just a means of progressing in the game, like figuring out where to HOP, how to get to a certain room?, etc. almost all of these can be tackled any way the player wants, from the most clever to the most stupid... though I'm not sure what you mean when you say "puzzles"
 

udm

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Messages
2,754
Make the Codex Great Again!
I would say Chapters 1-2 feel more like puzzle games, Chapters 3-6 are that middle ground where you start to see the environment, narrative and emergent gameplay blend in progressively, and Chapters 7-8 are where the game really finds its footing with fully immersive elements.

Btw Jenkem any chance of including this in the Codex's list of curated games?
 

As an Amazon Associate, rpgcodex.net earns from qualifying purchases.
Back
Top Bottom