I discovered Tyler: Model 005 early in its alpha development cycle and connected with the wonderful team at Reversed Interactive. It’s been a long journey, and the game evolved considerably from the first alpha experience. I would certainly say the game has the quality of AAA games – the graphical quality is “top-drawer”, and the ambience and voice acting just nails it home. The CEO (Lance Gardener) is a brilliant game director, and wonderful to talk to. Cheers to the rest of the team, who work fantastically together: Scott Mclellan (Lead 3D Artist), Martyn Luke (Lead Voice Actor), Tyler Durham (Writer/Composer) and Paul Boechler (Audio Tech SFX).
The game features Tyler (shown above) with his trusty blade having awoken after a long period of deactivation. We are given hints as to his creator’s identity and nature, but the game serves well to add mystery. There are a number of interesting game mechanics. As you play, you can collect bonus items which allow you to outfit Tyler with new aesthetics – including hats, headpieces, body styling, gloves, etc. As well, you can develop the ability to reverse time for brief periods, saving yourself from a wrong step, or a fall off a shelf.
An important, and interesting mechanic is the use of light. Tyler comes with two battery indicators. One is his stamina energy (represented by a large bar on the left side of the bottom right HUD), while the other acts as his life energy. As you travel, you’ll see your battery bar getting darker. Tyler’s light changes from blue to yellow to red, until he dies. To recharge, you must position yourself in view of light. This is typically the light cast by an oil lantern, several of which can be found and activated in each room. Tyler can also be recharged by outside sunlight entering the home. The other battery bar is his health (Represented by H2SO4 on the HUD). As he’s attacked, he will lose health – which must be replenished by picking up a battery, which may be found lying on a bookshelf from time to time.
The game works as a combination of third person action, storytelling and RPG. As you play, you can gain levels to upgrade Tyler, meet other (adorable) robots and complete quests. There is certainly action! You’re small…so you’re the natural enemy of predators such as ants, wasps, spiders and more.
I began playing when the only accessible space was the basement, a hallway and living room. Overtime, more rooms were added…a bathroom, kitchen, a study, and eventually the backyard, nuclear bunker and more! The story and game play has evolved significantly from the alpha. To advance, you must solve a puzzle. This will involve some acrobatics from Tyler, and more than a little ingenuity and cleverness at times. The world is yours to explore – you can cling to pipes and stay far above the ground, jump up shelves, and take advantage of things in the environment. There’s some fun additions – toys you can activate and ride on, such as paper airplanes.
There is another mode you unlock as you play the game: Tower Defense. It’s an interesting concept for a game like this, but added a dimension of play that I haven’t really experienced often, myself. You can collect things such as cardboard with nails hammered through, held up by pencils. Or, fork-based tesla coils. In the tower defense mode, you must collect resource points by defeating enemies and strategically lay traps. The insects (and eventually flying attackers) will come from pre-designated spawn points (initially one path – but they will become more complex and powerful), and must navigate your defenses to get to your base. Play smart, and try to survive as many waves as you can. It’s a very cool mode, separate from the story line.
Overall, Tyler has been a pleasure to follow since its alpha state. Like any game, it can have its “awkward” issues, but these add to its character. My main gripe would revolve around some “stickiness” when climbing book shelves or dealing with pipes, but it does add some entertainment when I’m getting impatient and trying to speed-climb! That said – the story line is entertaining, the game is engaging and the quality more than presents itself as a game worth its salt.