I really wanted to like GlitchPunk. Dark Lord’s new top-down throw-back to the original Grand Theft Auto held some promise. The interesting aesthetic, the retro graphics and the promise of some fun chaotic gameplay made me really excited to play the game. Unfortunately, there’s more glitch than punk in this game.
Let’s get the stability issues out of the way first. This is not a well optimised or stable game. It is still in early access so all that is subject to change, but the first 8 times I tried to play the game, I couldn’t get past the first loading screen – the UT engine apparently not liking the fact it had to exist. Multiple reinstallations and a little behind the scenes fiddling got the game running. Ish. The frame rates vary massively, with multiple enemies on the screen you’re going to be close to a single-digit FPS level. Normally I’d put this down to my ageing rig, but this has been reported widely by many people and outlets. I’ve had more CTD’s that I think are strictly healthy for my hardware, freezing is common, and so too are graphical glitches and audio bugs. I had one mission log continue playing, on repeat, even after I’d shut the game down. I’m still not sure how that was a thing, but it took a full reboot to stop it.
This game is actively trying to stop you playing it, so be aware/beware/afraid as appropriate.
When it lets you play it, the game itself isn’t that bad. The aesthetic is pleasing, at least until the colour palettes make enemies and civilians appear camouflaged against certain terrain types, and the controls are solid and responsive. It took a little while to get back into the groove for this kind of game, but I was soon pulling handbrake-corners into hapless civilians and generally making myself a nuisance. Okay, the driving controls are a little ‘loose’, but otherwise, it’s nice. It feels good, precise and controlled. The combat is fun, too, if lacking a little nuance. You’re not a bullet sponge and cover is exceptionally hard to use (cars explode, people), but there’s some nice weapons and it’s a riot shooting all the people. The police too, with the ‘standard’ wanted levels scale appropriately and on higher levels are genuinely hard as nails. I like those bits.
It’s a shame then about the missions. So yes, ok, I know – you’re generally limited in what you could do in this sort of game. But the answer is definitively not to make them multi-part, with complex conditions, and a restart that slowly erodes your money and weapons to the point when, having failed once or twice, you’re just not going to be able to progress. This happens a lot and yes, it is very frustrating. In fact it’s so frustrating I stopped playing the game. Sure, towards the end of the game when money isn’t an issue and you know what you’re doing go for it, but right at the start? Are you mad?
Add the awful map (that shows everything) and the interface that just screams ‘please, less is more’ and I just can’t recommend you get this.
Given the pixel art and the style there is literally no reason to not buy the original GTA’s and play them – they’re superior in everyway, and cheaper to boot.