Review: Plain Sight – A Robot Romp n’ Stomp Multiplayer Indie Game

Review: Plain Sight – A Robot Romp n’ Stomp Multiplayer Indie Game
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Platforms:

Windows, Steam, PS3 , Wii Ware

Game Name:

Plain Sight

Publisher(s):

Beatnik Games

Developer(s):

Beatnik Games

Genre(s):

Multiplayer Action

Release Date:

April 5th 2010

Plain Sight recently received a lot of exposure when it was a featured sale item in Valve’s Steam summer sale. Already a critical darling, this punchy, terrific looking title also features 13 multiplayer maps wherein one can battle up to 20 players at a time. Indie Game Reviewer decided to assign it to multiple reviewers – Callabrantus and Patrick B., for this reason. Thus we bring you the IGR Two-Hander Review of Plain Sight from Beatnik Games

Developer Summary:

  • Plain Sight is a multiplayer arcade game about suicidal ninja robots.
  • Fly through space, leap over planetoids and destroy opponents with your trusty katana.
  • Killing fellow robots lets you steal their tasty, tasty energy. Packed with spinach-like goodness; energy makes you bigger, stronger, faster and generally more awesome.
  • Being all big and badass is great, but in this game it doesn’t win you the match. It makes you a target.
  • To win, you have to convert your energy into points…
  • How do you do this? Simple. Kill yourself.
  • Press the button and turn your happy little robot into a vicious ball of enemy-absorbing plasma. The more opponents you take out, the better.
  • Upgrade your robot, respawn and get stuck in again…

What We Think:

A Fast-Paced, Slash and Crash Multi-Player Mash-Up That Plays Smooth Jazz in the Lobby.

Plain Sight by Beatnik Games screen capture
You Got Some Planin' To Do

Callabrantus’ Take:

Robots Do Ninja a Little Differently…

Lurking in the shadows is for sucker ninjas. Plain Sight brings ninja combat out of the darkened corners. You goal is to assassinate as many enemy players (or bots) as you can, store up the energy, and release it in a giant self-detonation; hopefully one large enough to bring a few other players down with you.

Bring Your Own Gravity

The best part about being a ninja robot? Battling in near zero-gravity. It’s also the most frustrating part, but it makes sure you stay on your toes. The levels in Plain Sight run every which way, and thanks to your grav boots, so can you. Run up walls, run over the sides of platforms, or leap over a platform, and send out a gravity burst to stop your descent short. You need to keep yourself moving to avoid becoming another notch on an enemy ninja’s energy bar.

Combat involves getting close enough to get a lock on an enemy, charging up your attack, and letting fly with your sword. If your attack is met with another, the shot will be repelled. A successful connection will destroy your target add to your overall energy, as will picking up energy stars that will appear randomly on the field. This energy doesn’t count as points, however! In order to rack up a score, you have to self detonate while you’re carrying a charge. The bigger the charge, the bigger the blast. Larger blasts have a better chance of taking out enemies, but as you accumulate energy, your ninja will grow in size, and slow down significantly, making you an easier target. Finding the right time to detonate is tricky business.

I know Kung Fu...

Ninja Depot. You Can Kill It. We Can Help.

Rack up some points, and you can start purchasing upgrades. Augment your running speed, your attack speed, and the rate at which you detonate, along with a bevy of other attributes. This will increase your chances on the battlefield, but it can also give you a few seconds to collect yourself, and determine which way is up (after particularly sound thrashings…of which I received often).

The Game sports some classic multiplayer modes, such as Death Match, Team Death Match and Capture the Flag. For something different, try out Lighten Up (the biggest self-detonation wins) or Ninja! Ninja! Botzilla! (Ninjas attack Botzilla, Botzilla is craving robotic Japanese).

Forgot my sandwich press attachment. Flame Sword it is!

Spinning in Infinity

The game’s break-neck speed had me craning my head this way and that, wishing the camera was also being controlled by a robot ninja. With so many floating platforms, I often found myself staring at the bottom of the floor I was on. More often than not, in the couple of seconds it took to right it, I’d catch sight of my bot just in time to watch an opponent jam his katana in my chassis. Get used to the grav burst move quickly, or you’ll find yourself whirling around in empty space a lot of the time. Look before you leap!

With a huge amount of levels to select from, and a great variety of game modes, there’s plenty for everyone interested in a super fast multiplayer killfest. It also comes with a tutorial and a practice mode while you polish the green off your bot.


Patrick B’s Take:

Plain Sight is visually amazing and fun. It makes for a fast and furious deathmatch experience. It’s very quick to pick up and start smashing others. The ability to upgrade your character mid-game is an interesting element. In the end what makes this worth the purchase is the visuals. Little robot ninjas battling it out in bizarre gravity defying environments is crazy-fun. The stark, almost black and white color scheme and funky jazz music add an element of style to cap off the experience.

OK, that said it has a few issues that keep me from recommending it more than I have:

First, it’s too simple. Once you’ve gotten down the basic mechanics it really becomes a button masher. There’s very little difference between playing a live game and a practice because of this. The addition of another ability or two would add a level of complexity that would give this much more replay value.

Second, there’s no voice chat. I know, it’s hard to implement that sort of thing in an indie game, but this sort of game needs smack talk. Even a dedicated Ventrillo or Teamspeak server would do.

Third, you can’t password protect a server. This type of game would be ideal for a online gaming group looking for something to do on down nights, but without private servers, you can’t ensure you can play by yourselves.

Editor’s note: At their blog dated May 4th, Beatnik’s game developers state: “Over the next month or so we’re going to be working toward a big old patch for the game. After listening to feedback from all of you, we’ve decided to add a persistent perk system into Plain Sight. These perks will be earned over many games and should provide you with some tactical advantages” so we should see much improvement in the multiplayer mode for the game. Back to you Patrick…

Lastly, there’s limited sound control. I love the soundtrack, but it overwhelmed the sound effects and I had no control of it, so it had to be turned off. It’s a minor issue, but was unfortunate none the less.

The Good News

None of these are game breaking and are possibly patchable things for the future, if any of the developers read this. I hate to get down on such a wonderful independent game. It’s still easily worth the price of admission. If you’ve got a guild looking for something else to do, buy copies, get on your voice chat, and start cutting each other to pieces. You wont regret it.

Plain Sight is available via Steam.

Callabrantus’ score:

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Patrick B’s score:

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Overall score:

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Adam Fimio

AKA Callabrantus [Toronto, Canada] has been an avid gamer since playing his first arcade game when he was two years old. Years later, he still dives into games on a daily basis hoping to recreate the high from that first hit.

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