Russian based devs The Valkyrie Initiative have created a unique take on the FPS story with 41 Hours. Sadly, however, that’s just about where it ends.
At first glance, 41 Hours is a game that any science fiction fan would love to sink their teeth into. Merging everything from zombies to alien robots, the title’s fantastical feel certainly makes it stand out among other indie first-person shooter competitors.
From the brief snippet available in the Prologue demo for the game, there’s definitely potential for a truly different sci-fi style experience. Channeling titles like Crysis, it’s very clear where this wants to go, but it just isn’t quite there.
Plagued by bugs and clunky controls, whilst lacking any clarity in the story department, jumping into 41 Hours can make for a somewhat confusing experience.
41 Hours – Key Details
- Copy: 41 Hours: Prologue
- Price: TBA
- Developer: Valkyrie Initiative
- Release Date: 29 April, 2021
- Platforms: PC
A graphical triumph
Opening the story with a comic book style narrative that is reminiscent of graphic novels like World War Z, first impressions of the game are pretty positive. Using this interesting storytelling method you are introduced to Ethan, the game’s protagonist, and his wife Clara.
Slight grammatical errors in the comic strips do take away from the feel a little bit, but considering the developer’s native language is not English it’s largely forgivable.
Additionally, the beautifully crafted war torn landscape is a breath of fresh air. With aspects of Fallout 4 sneaking their way into the design, graphically the game is beautiful and has potential.
It’s when you start exploring, though, that things rapidly go downhill and, spoiler alert, they don’t really recover.
Have I been here before?
As you progress through the first chapter you already start to notice the same environments popping up again and again. Reliant on the abandoned village houses for all important health packs and ammunition, you dart into each house expecting something new.
Every house’s interior is one of two different designs. Navigating upstairs is a difficult enough task because the environment doesn’t feel finished, but finally reaching the top of the stairs to literally find the exact same attic is pretty boring.
It gives the game a lazy feel, which is unfortunate when you consider the hard work that’s gone into the outside environment. While it’s also pretty samey, it gives off an oppressive feel that you would expect from this dystopian universe.
The story is beyond confusing
The game’s story is told in the form of comic strips, but it launches you straight into the action with absolutely no information about what’s actually going on.
The Steam description pretty thin for details, noting only that the title “follows the narrative of Ethan, a workaholic scientist in search of his long-lost wife.” The lack of context is pretty frustrating.
Additionally, while some of the concepts in the game will make avid physicists jump for joy, the idea of parallel realities and their role within the story isn’t clear at all.
Admittedly, this may be because this is only a preview of the main game. You do want to find out what’s going on with Ethan Lea because their story is intriguing, but you find yourself questioning whether or not it’s worth wading through all the bugs to get there.
Speaking of bugs…
Bugs are a significant pain that mar most projects upon release, though there’s no excuse for the mess that 41 Hours has been left in.
While using Lea’s pulse bomb or worm hole mechanics, you command her to go to a specific area which is highlighted in blue if accessible, red if not. However, even if the point you chose for her is blue, quite often she tells you that she can’t go there or just bugs out entirely.
Ethan’s telekinesis ability is equally frustrating, as it seems like in the 41 Hours world gravity isn’t a thing. Rogue boxes have a habit of flying around, which makes trying to pick them up particularly difficult. It’s a rough ride.
Stealth without the stealth
One of Ethan’s other tools has some amazing potential though; his cloaking ability. Able to render yourself invisible so long as you have energy, you can sneak past enemies and infiltrate bases with ease.
Despite there being a beautifully designed stealth mechanic, there’s no melee or takedown options. Therefore, you have to start shooting to deal damage, attracting enemies and rendering your stealthy endeavours an absolutely pointless waste of energy.
A Far Cry or Call of Duty style stealth takedown option would really help players who prefer this type of playstyle have a little more fun, and would open up the potential for more varied and interesting missions.
41 Hours is the skeleton of a solid game. Add some meat to the bones and maybe then it could be something special, but in its current state even the vultures would ignore it.
This game has a long way to go before it’s complete, or at the very least enjoyable to play. The Valkyrie Initiative have a tall order to fill if they want this game ready for its April 29 release.