REVIEW: ‘Gamedec’ is Tabletop Gaming Brought to Life (PC)

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Gamedec - But Why Tho

The cyberpunk genre is all the rage these days, and many games using the genre as a set piece are working hard to set themselves apart from the pack. Gamedec, a single-player cyberpunk isometric RPG, is no different in this regard. Developed by Anshar Studios, Gamedec releases on PC on September 16th and had been announced for Nintendo Switch with no specific release date.

Gamedec takes place in 22nd-century Warsaw City and is based on a series of books by Polish author Marcin Sergiusz Przybyłek, who also served as a lore consultant for Gamedec. For those interested, the books will also be releasing on Amazon in English so that English-speaking fans of the game can take a look at the source material. While the game doesn’t directly adapt the story from the books, it does contain many of the same virtual worlds (referred to as virtualias). I do want to warn anyone looking into picking up Gamedec that some of the stories and topics handled in the game can be quite dark and graphic. None of it feels gratuitous, but everyone has their own threshold for what they want to engage with.

In Gamedec, players take on the role of a game detective (referred to as gamedecs) investigating different cases in multiple virtual worlds. You are given the option to choose your character’s background, but Anshar wanted to make sure there was no “optimal” build. You have many branching skills to unlock, and those depend on the choices you make in the game. I really liked that there was no optimal build or set way to play, and I’m glad it worked out as well as the developers wanted it to.

The gameplay for Gamedec is fairly straightforward. All you really need to do is click and move around, although you can use the keyboard for a few select things. I found myself only using the mouse, which was helpful because it allowed me to care more about the game itself and less about how I needed to actually play. With that said, each virtual world you enter does contain it’s own game mechanics. While the controls in these virtualias don’t change, there are different sets of rules in each “game” you enter that you will need to pay attention to. It is an added layer of depth to Gamedec that made the investigations significantly more interesting. Some actions felt a bit tedious, but they can help unlock new clues to help solve cases so they do serve a purpose.

The biggest focus for Anshar was not the gameplay of Gamedec, but the story that players could experience. I had the opportunity to attend an event with the developers before playing the game and it was clear how passionate they were about bringing a true tabletop gaming experience to life for the players. Choices matter in tabletop games, and players should have the freedom to make whatever choices they want. What stuck out to me the most was when they told me that there are no fail states in the game. You are free to make whatever choice you want, and free to face the consequences as well. I went through a second play-through just to test this theory, and it absolutely works. I was able to select obviously wrong choices and the game didn’t end, it just made the story advance in a negative way for my character. I found that to be incredibly fascinating and well-done. Obviously, it’s going to be much more enjoyable to work hard to solve the cases, but having the option to fail (either intentionally or not) is always nice to have.

Part of what makes the stories and investigations come to life is the diversity of locales and characters you encounter. Each virtualia is different, but even Warsaw City has distinct areas that you will visit that feel very authentic and special. The art design, along with the music accompanying the different situations, work together excellently to help make experience as immersive as possible. Anshar have also confirmed that there will be some voiceover work added into the game, but that was not available in the review build and likely will not be available right away at launch. I hope they are able to implement that soon, because it would add a whole new level of immersion to an already excellent game.

Overall, Gamedec is an excellent attempt to do the impossible. Tabletop games are as popular as they are today because they can’t be replicated anywhere else, but Gamedec comes as close as possible to making it a reality. I felt like my choices truly mattered, and that’s not something that happens often in games. While some of the virtualias can feel a bit tedious, the overall narrative they serve makes the experience worth it.

Gamedec releases on September 16th on Steam.

Gamedec
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Overall, Gamedec is an excellent attempt to do the impossible. Tabletop games are as popular as they are today because they can’t be replicated anywhere else, but Gamedec comes as close as possible to making it a reality. I felt like my choices truly mattered, and that’s not something that happens often in games. While some of the virtualias can feel a bit tedious, the overall narrative they serve makes the experience worth it.