Gamedec is an isometric RPG set in a cyberpunk world heavily altered by virtual reality. There are two “worlds” (as the populace refers to them), vitrualium and realium, which are in other words within and without of virtual reality. Virtualium, also referred to as “games,” is where you make your living. As a Gamedec (or Game Detective), you go into Virtualium to solve crimes.
Gamedec has a concept that comes equipped with the ability to create a wide variety of environments, and the game does not disappoint. Every trip you take into virtual reality brings you to a unique world for you to appreciate, each operating with its own set of rules particular to the game. Outside of virtual reality, the games takes on a cyberpunk detective story, bringing you from lavish rooms atop skyscrapers, to the street in a city where the buildings are so tall, the sun does not touch them.
Another thing Gamedec has going for it is the brave decision to not include combat. Taking a page from the wildly popular Disco Elysium, the game forgoes typical gameplay challenges in an attempt to focus on story and moral decisions.
Finally, Gamedec boasts a deduction system that lets you gather and sift through evidence and make permanent decisions throughout each case that shapes your story. For example, the very first case allows you to tell the client to handle it themselves, effectively allowing you to skip that entire portion of the game. Permanent choice is something that games often shy away from, so I applaud Gamedec for forcing you to make decisions you cannot turn back from, and autosaving right after to further solidify that point.
- Unique worlds
- Story focused by foregoing action
- Robust deduction system
I think Gamedec’s biggest failing is its script, of which there are a number of points to make. Firstly, it undermines its own core concept with the ubiquitous use of the word “game.” Contextualising everything under the umbrella of video games removes a lot of the seriousness of the story, and the story takes itself very seriously. The main character is portrayed as a hardboiled, tough as nails detective, but his profession is that he goes into video games and deals with trolls and game addicts. It makes the game seem silly, and this would not be an issue if the game was self-aware, but it is most definitely not.
The other issue is the actual writing of the script. Characters will often repeat themselves several times throughout their dialogue options, as if the developers did not expect you to exhaust every option when your goal is to collect as much information as possible. Not only that, but there are characters that will make the same point two to three times within the same string of dialogue, effectively repeating themselves with different wording. It speaks to either a distrust in the game’s player base for not being thorough enough when talking to people, which is the only thing you really do in Gamedec since there is no combat, or lazy writing since they did not comb the script for redundancy.
The game also lacks challenge, either skill or luck based. In a traditional ISORPG, one would have stats that the game would reference for skill checks. Whether you believe this is a skill based system for knowing where to allocate what points, or a luck based system since, at the end of the day, these situations are resolved with a digital dice roll, there is a level of unpredictability and variance to the game. Gamedec forgoes this by utilising a system of what it calls “jobs.” All throughout, you will accrue points in four different varieties depending on your dialogue choices, and you will spend them on certain jobs. All this does is open more dialogue options. While I like that this will open up certain doors, acquire new information, or find that hidden item in the map, at the end of the day, there is no skill required in this. There is no check to pass; there is no challenge to overcome; if you have the job, you can do the thing. This can lead to a player looking up the most efficient way to acquire the necessary points to get every job the fastest, then swagger their way through anything the game throws at them because nothing is blocked off. Personally, I find this off-putting because it removes a lot of the risk of failure. You either cannot select an option, or you succeed in it; there’s no third choice.
- The game undermines its own concept
- Poor writing
- A lack of challenge
Final Score: 5/10
Gamedec has a lot to overlook before one can enjoy it. It has a heavy cyberpunk aesthetic and a lot of varying environments, but all of that is overshadowed by the silliness of its concept. It reads to me like your character is such a hardcore alpha gamer that you can solve people’s problems by gaming. A complete and total removal of the word “game” from the script would do wonders for improving its image. The game already comes complete with a solution to that, focusing on calling it virtual reality. They even already have a word for it, virtualium. Unfortunately, Gamedec has doubled down so hard on this concept that they named their game “Gamedec.” Its story is its bread and butter by design, so it is unfortunate that it decided to sink itself with this choice.
Thank you for checking out our Gamedec Switch review, thank you to Untold Tales (via Better Gaming) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: