Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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There was a huge explosion. Humanity as Max knew it had disappeared. His car helped make survival manageable, but it was gutted during a pit stop in Last Hope. Left with nothing, he needs to scour the post-apocalyptic wasteland in an effort to move on in his travels.
The above is a description of Hardboiled, an open-world turn-based RPG that bears a striking resemblance to the Fallout series. Although Hardboiled operates on a very narrow and focused level, it does a fantastic job of capturing the hardships of dealing with life in a world full of desperate survivors.
In terms of gameplay, Hardboiled feels very much like the first two Falloutgames, where characters roam around in real-time and only pause to take turns in combat scenarios against bandits and other wasteland opponents. Additionally, the world is populated with scavengers, strangers, guardians, and other non-enemy units that players can talk to and interact with. Finally - as if there weren't enough similarities already - the combat system allows players to target specific bodyparts to disarm, maim, or otherwise damage enemies.
The goal of Hardboiled is to scavenge for items and gear to make Max strong enough to roam the wasteland safely - and to gather his car parts so he can be on his way. This might seem easy at first blush considering the death system (in which players simply "pass out" and get respawned in a predetermined map location), but life on the wasteland is rough. Success in Hardboiled relies rather heavily on Max's gear, but wandering around with too much gear attracts the attention of marauder, who are normally neutral but switch to thieving bullies when Max has something they want.
This might leave some players frustrated at first, since dying over and over again can rob them of lots of useful loot, but once they grow acclimated to the system it adds dimension to the post-apocalyptic lifestyle that is sometimes missing from the Fallout games.
This is not to say that Hardboiled is some elevated version of those classic RPGs, though. Aside from this neat interplay of characters, the list of things it doesn't haveis even longer: no indoor environments, very few quests, a relatively tiny map, limited character progression, and so on. Despite these deficiencies, something about Hardboiled's constraints actually make it feel more compelling than it might otherwise.
Hardboiled feels like a single, lengthy quest within a stripped-down Fallout game. Like an interlude between chapters in a much bigger story,it's about Max's time spent in Last Hope before moving on. It isn't overly ambitious, but it plays to its strengths. And while those strengths might take some getting used to, itends up capturing the spirit of a post-apocalyptic turn-based RPG - even if it isn't quite Fallout.