Reviewed on: PS4
Publisher: Fair Games Studio
Developer: Fair Games Studio
Platforms: PC, PC/VR, PS4, Xbox One
Is Protocol an adventure game? A puzzle game? A shooter? We don’t really know (and neither do the developers) and that’s what makes it so charming! It is hard to put Protocol on a specific pedestal since its genre is ambiguous yet entertaining.
Developed and published by Fair Games Studio, Protocol is the kind of game that you’ll love to hate. It is funny, it is entertaining but it will make you want to throw your controller out of the window more than once.
Did Protocol pass the test? Lets find out!
You play as a flippant soldier who signed up for a top-secret program called Protocol. You are packed in a landing box and sent to somewhere in the Arctic Circle close to a research complex called Terminus. On your arrival, you are welcomed by a mysterious AI that reminds you that, by signing your contract, you agree to follow the protocol, no matter what. You don’t know really know why you’ve been sent here, the only thing you know is that your mission is to make “first contact” with an alien form (and follow the protocol of course!).
You are then sent to accomplish task after task outside and inside the complex. Interrogate an alien, conduct a surgical operation, hunt down some insect-like organs... You’ll do a lot of unusual things.
What’s particular and funny about the game is that the AI is quite “close-minded”. You are constantly told that you need to follow the protocol only and that any deviation will lead to the elimination of you and the complex with a BIG BADA BOOM. However, it’s fairly simple to deviate from the protocol. You put something in the wrong box, BOOM! You went to pee without being authorised, BOOM! Basically, any mistake, as innocent it can be, can get you killed.
That’s what makes this sci-fi comedy entertaining. You need to pay attention and be constantly aware of what you do, otherwise there is a high chance that you will have to re-play the mission. And trust me, it will happen a lot...
Which leads me to the gameplay. Protocol initially launched on PC in 2018 and received a VR version one year later. It’s in 2021 the game has been finally released for PS4 and Xbox One. I tested the game on a PS4, thus I played with a PS4 controller. Sadly, I personally felt like the controls weren’t optimized for consoles which led me to make many mistakes (and die) just because I had certain difficulties with the control system.
I understand that the game is supposed to “make you suffer”, however I wonder sometimes if it was due to the difficulty of the game or if it wasn’t just optimized for playing with a analogue stick. I haven’t tried the PC version so I can’t compare. It is even more frustrating since the loading time between each death is quite long, which is a shame if you die a lot, like me. Still, the plot is very engaging and will make you want to push yourself in order to unveil what’s really going in this place.
In terms of visuals, the quality was good. Not the best graphics you can find but still very well-made and pleasant to admire. I particularly enjoyed the universe and the environment that sometimes made you feel like you weren’t really on earth.
Overall, Protocol is a fun game with an interesting plot, I won’t tell you too much about it since I could easily spoil the game. If you like dark humour and challenging gameplay, then you’ll definitely enjoy playing Protocol. The game lasts between 9 to 12 hours but expect to replay some moments over and over. Despite some frustrations and some bugs, I still had fun and I would totally recommend it.