It would be fantastic if the gloves in Twin Sector were real. Imagine the fun you could have with a pair of these. On the left-hand, you have a red glove which can be used to attract and grab far off objects or propel yourself towards flat surfaces. On the right a blue gauntlet which can chuck stuff away with all the force of an Olympic shot-putter, or cushion your fall at the last minute as you hurtle towards certain death.
Your days of running after that bus you just missed would be over. You could wave goodbye to modern-day gripes like stairs. And you’d never have to get off the sofa to go and pick up the TV remote again.
Unfortunately, DnS Development choose not to focus on such life-affirming uses of the gloves, instead placing them on the hands of Ashley Simms, a recently-awoken survivor of The Post-Apocalyptic Future ™. Thawed from her cryogenic slumber in a facility deep underground, Ashley is told – by OSCAR, the base’s A.I. – that a massive power failure is jeopardising the life support system. The fate of the entire human race is in Ashley’s red and blue wonder gloved hands! And she only has 10 hours to do it – better get that handwear revved up and raring to go, Miss Simms…
Twin Sector takes its cue from Portal, placing you in large environments where your have to push and pull your way around, interacting with objects, doors, buttons, lasers, gun turrets and the usual assortment of items you’d find lying about a scientific facility of the future. In a clever gameplay mechanic, you have no weapons: only the gloves, which you power up to various levels of effectiveness using the left and right mouse buttons.
Like its illustrious forebear, levels in Twin Sector amount to physics-based puzzle challenges, with you often having to work out the best horizontal & vertical route through a level, use an object to activate a far-away switch, then rush for the exit, which is often on a time-delay.Â Although the graphics and Havoc-based game engine here are solid, several factors get in the way of making Twin Sector a classic.
First, the levels themselves. Now, I’m sure facilities in the post-apocalyptic future will in reality be drab, featureless and grey. However, Twin Sector is a game, not an architectural blueprint, and the blandness of the level design is a bit disappointing. You will find yourself navigating through metal corridor after identical metal corridor, with your blue/red gloved hands providing the only splash of colour in front of your first-person viewpoint.
Next, the unforgiving and at-times frustrating gameplay. Make a wrong move, fail to activate your fall-cushioning right-hand glove in time, or get too close to a hazard and it’s game over. Although you’re taken back to the level’s last checkpoint, this is often just before the point you tortuously got through a particularly tricky section. The loading times are also pretty slow – so you’re forced into the familiar practice of inching forward, quick saving, inching forward, saving, ad nauseam. This breaks the momentum of what should be a smooth and immersive experience.
Perhaps the biggest issue Twin Sector has is where you are required to propel an object at a target in order to hit a button or switch. This is turned into a frustrating exercise of trial-and-error, as – once you have an object in your hands – it practically obscures your view, making it very hard to aim at something you can no longer see. There are times during some of Twin Sector’s levels where you feel you’re trying to hit an invisible drawing-pin with a double decker bus.
On the plus side, the game is short, with 15 levels of object-juggling, wall-grappling, physics-bending fun to be had. And, it has to be said, once you’re into the rhythm of things and start to compensate for the game’s foibles, it can actually be quite satisfying using your Red and Blue Wonder Gloves in original and interesting ways to solve a level.
Twin Sector obviously hasn’t had suitcases full of money emptied over its production, and the cutscenes and voice-acting leave a little to be desired. As a budget-priced title from a small development house, this is of course forgivable; plots and cutscenes are usually after all the icing on the gameplay cake.
It’s a bit of a shame therefore that Twin Sector’s cake is a little bit stale and dry. There is a promising game struggling to break free here, and I would actually like to see DnS Development address some of these above issues and reawaken up Ashley Simms and her Red and Blue Wonder Gloves once again in a sequel.
Twin Sector is available to buy from GamersGate