Tidal Affair: Before the Storm is an isometric stealth game. You sneak around an island, fighting various rebel groups. Your character is equipped with a parasol that can preform back stabs and a special skill called “puppeting”. Puppeting is one of the primary ways of dealing with enemies. You can back-stab, but that is harder to do, and mostly useful in situations where you’re left to take out one last guy who’s unaware of you. The parasol can do a basic attack, but the damage is low and should only be used in dire situations. Puppetting lets you mind-control an enemy for a short amount of time. You can walk around a small circle about your character, and use whatever weapons the enemy has. The most useful thing is to start shooting other enemies to easily clear out many guys at once. Be careful, since the mind control only last a few moments. Once the control breaks, the person will immediately know where you are and start coming after you. It’s very hard to lose them from this state, but it can be done.
You have several options to deal with the guy who you currently have controlled. You can make him shoot himself; an option that’s always available. However if they die while under your control, you take a good amount of damage. This is an interesting way to make sure you don’t abuse this power. You can’t just mind-control and kill everyone this way; else you’re sure to die. Another option is to run them off a cliff. There won’t always be cliffs around, but this is your best bet when there are. If you let go of the control before they hit the ground, you suffer no damage yourself! There are also a variety of “patches” you can get for your parasol. Each of these let you do something interesting while puppeting. One of these patches is to execute a controlled person without taking damage. Other patches let you move your controlled person past the normal limit, switch places with the target and siphon health from them. There’s a fair number of patches in a level, so you’ll always have something to do.
Being caught is pretty rough, but not necessarily a game over. All the people in your general vicinity are alerted to your presence, as well as a few new heavily armed guards. This can quickly get overwhelming, and even with puppeting it can leave you with pretty low health. Careful planning and quick decision making can get you through a level sight unseen, in addition to a few precision backstabs. Another part of the game (aside from the stealth) is a series of puzzle levels. These include traps and obstacles to overcome. Here is where the game starts to diminish a bit. These, rather than in the intense stealth play, are just tedious and frustrating. In some instances you’ll have to restart huge sections of annoying traps due to careless mistakes. Luckily these sections don’t detract too much from the pleasure of the game; before long you’ll be back to stealth.
The part of the game that is clearly the most lacking is the graphics. The art is supposed to resemble the brush strokes of a painting, but really all it looks like is a half-finished drawing done with Adobe Flash. The animation is also very low quality. Most movement consists of one character or piece of the picture sliding over a background image. In the cut-scenes this is really noticeable and awkward. It winds up breaking the player’s sense of immersion. In the actual game, the draw distance is far away enough that it blurs together and looks alright. But there is always this sense of the graphics being unfinished. All in all, Tidal Affair: Before the Storm is clever and competent, and I’m looking forward to seeing the advancements made in future Tidal Affair games.
Disclaimer: We received this game because we wanted to review it, and as such all views in this article our are own. No money has been exchanged for this review.