Gamedec

Gamedec is a detective adventure game with RPG elements by Polish developer Anshar Studios. It takes place in 22nd century Warsaw City, where you adopt the role of a video game private detective - gamedec - who works cases that start in and revolve around digital worlds.

Stanley explains to the player character that his boss makes him farm lootboxes in the game Harvest Time

The two main gameplay mechanics are Deductions and Professions. You gather clues and choose story branches by making deductions; decisions about what’s happening based on the clues you’ve found. You also earn points towards four personality traits during your interactions that can be spent to unlock professions; perks that unlock additional dialog options. The life of a gamedec is accepting new work, gathering clues by using problem solving and professions, and then making a series of deductions until the case is solved (or not).

Gamedec is a little rough around the edges. Most of the bugs I encountered involved localization - mainly unformatted or untranslated text - and post-launch patches have been quick to address many of these. During one area transition my character’s animations glitched and they moonwalked out of their apartment. In a digital labyrinth, I had to load from a save when I got stuck on a virtual island where, and I’m getting a little sick of this trope if I’m honest, the floor was supposed to assemble itself in front of me as I moved.

Mr. Unicorn explains to the player character how to summon the King of Trolls

The writing of some of the dialog is also a little rough at times. A more worrying word I would use to describe the main narrative is loose. Each of these, I think, reflects how ambitious of a game Gamedec is. Overly ambitious? Maybe, but not as overly ambitious as that other Polish cyberpunk game that came out in the last year.

The cyberpunk fiction of this game follows the classic formula that I’ve described before. A handful of technologies (sensory simulations, consciousness copying, artificial intelligence, anti-gravity) take center stage and are explored deeply in the game’s Codex. Taking the time to read the Codex, at least during your first playthrough, will be key to your enjoyment. At the end of my first game, I noticed a number of Codex entries that hadn’t been unlocked, which either hints at cut content or that there is more still for me to uncover.

Your character gains aforementioned professions by earning and spending points from four personality traits, and those points are earned based on how you deal with people over the course of your investigations. You spend combinations of these points to unlock professions, and this creates a weird meta game where you’ll adjust your behavior to earn the points you need to be able to access locked professions. Or, either by ignoring the meta game or failing to predict which trait an action will award points for, you’re left with an abudance of points in one category and nothing to do with them. It would have been nice to have an option to use the almost ten “creativity” points I had amassed for something; smaller perks, trading some or all in for one point in a related trait, etc.

I’d like to get into the details of the game’s story but I won’t because I think you should play Gamdec and find them out for yourself. Even if parts of the game are a bit ragged, and the game itself short by some single-player game standards, Gamedec will make good use of your time. Don’t listen to the gamers; I’m here to tell you, Gamedec is worth $40 and at least 3 hours of your time. When you do crack the case, meet me in The Black Sun and you can tell me all about it.