Content of the article: "You Are Empty (2006) – Soviet Half-Life?"
You Are Empty (2006) is a Ukrainian budget first-person shooter set in the alternative universe Soviet Union. Regardless, You Are Empty was critically panned when it came out. Gamespot gave it 1.5, and IGN gave it 2.1. However, it has received a cult following since and considered a hidden gem now. So, this is not my first time playing You Are Empty. I remember playing this game around that time and kind of enjoying it. I also played the developer's other game called Instinct, a first-person zombie game set in North Korea, and it was garbage.
Before playing You Are Empty, I have patched the sprint mode into the game. The vanilla player movement is painfully slow that it kills any kind of enjoyment. I highly recommend it to those who try to play the game. Here is the
Although You Are Empty is a janky budget title, the first impressions are surprisingly amazing. The game opens with
The first level is a straight-up survival horror. Even though this visual lacks any lighting or shader effects, but relies entirely on flat textures, that actually works in favor of the game's atmosphere. You are mostly lonely throughout the entire experience wandering around an abandoned society that was once utopian turned nightmare. Storytelling is done through environments and notes. A lot of aspects of this game reminded me of BioShock. Now, there is already a Soviet BioShock called Singularity, and while that is a far better game than You Are Empty, Singularity just feels so vanilla and looks ugly in all the wrong ways. Meanwhile, You Are Empty was developed by people who actually lived in the Soviet Union. They understand what their hometown looked like. There is genuine artistry behind every level, screaming Soviet Russia.
However, the next level immediately turns this game into a more conventional first-person shooter experience akin to Half-Life. The player gets more weapons and fights actual Soviet soldiers later on. There is rarely any horror after the first level. The game also turns into an unintentional comedy. While I believe primitive graphics worked for the tone they were going for, there are just so many janks that are hilarious. Farmer NPCs make sounds like this. Every zombie enemy is the exact same character model copy and pasted. The voice acting and in-game cinematic look and sound like this. The ladders are some of the worst ladders I have ever climbed in video games. Jump is so awkward that it makes the platforming sections unnecessarily difficult. The loading is incredibly long even for modern hardware. The ending credit music is literally The Last Waltz track from Oldboy, and I don't think they had a license to use it…?
I honestly think they should have made this game a full survival horror since the core combat loop is just not that good. There are some good things about the combat. The player arsenal is solid with some weapons equipped with secondary functionality. Ammo is not plentiful but not rare. However, the gunplay is so basic that it is never engaging. It is like Painkiller if the player was slow as hell and all the levels are claustrophobic. I did not expect the enemies to behave like F.E.A.R., but AI is incredible dumb and not reactive to the player's tactics. The game never encourages the player to play differently or form a strategy since every enemy either charges at the player or stands in one place. There are also inexcusable combat-related janks. Enemies shooting through walls. The player getting stuck at walls or planes. Enemies getting stuck for no reason, not responding to the player.
The story concept is interesting but the game never takes its advantage. The cutscenes are revealed to be slices of the master scientist's life, who created this catastrophe, yet the player never interacts with him until the last few minutes of the ending.
It is not, but it definitely does not deserve 1.5/10 either. It is okay.
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