Monday, 16 July 2012

E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy Getting Started Guide

E.Y.E. has a well-deserved reputation for being completely off the wall: but I think a large chunk of this is due to the way the game does such a bad job introducing itself. Imagine if you'd met Steve Jobs on an ashram - you'd have a hard time picturing him as a brilliant but antagonistic CEO while he was on acid and hugging everyone. E.Y.E. is the same but it really doesn't know how to give you a hug or hold your hand. At the same time, the fact it plays so hard to get feeds into the profound sense of alienation it creates - a perversely brilliant distancing mechanic in the game. Take the lore: you have to read a few pages of poorly translated fiction at 6 terminals spaced around what amounts to a cosy and intimate environment as far at the level designers are concerned. The myth of an largely impenetrable backstory comes from the fact that you're not told which order to read the terminals, and the story itself veers wildly between era spanning historical archive, vignettes of a day in the life of a serial killer, and your own personal diaries - including events which have not yet happened? - both between terminals and paragraphs. This is aided by the fact you've probably just discovered the vast and overwhelmingly complicated Research screen, which has you choosing from an array of unexplained technologies, scientists, research budgets and in jokes.

So where to begin? I think the best way to penetrate this game is to consider at every point if you don't understand a mechanic, it is probably 10 times more badass than you could possibly conceive of.


1. Rebinding keys

You'll probably want to rebind F to interact (instead of ENTER) and your num pad enter to change fire modes. You'll be talking to people and picking up ammunition a lot more than you'll be switching between semi and full auto to start with. Why doesn't ammunition automatically pick up when you walk over it? So you can use the Alchemy ability, which allows you to convert any ammo pack you find to health. Bind that to one of your function keys. While you're at it, you might want to bind one of your other starting abilities Polyclone to a function key. What's Polyclone? It creates up to 3 identical copies of you to fight along side you for a small psychic cost. That might be useful.

2. Research

The other option of getting health is Medkits, which in a game which cared about you understanding its mechanics would have been the introductory "we're going to explain how research works" item. Research is straight forward: the number of scientists you allocate decreases the time and increases the cost. However, you'll need lots of money to allocate to other unlocks, and one day passes for every 3 to 4 minutes of in game time, so decrease the number of scientists to 0 for the moment and research those damn Medkits.

3. Armoury

Of course, having research Medkits, the game never explains how you can acquire one. You get the Medkit from an Armoury - and note the singular. The Medkit you've researched has unlimited uses with a cooldown, and uses a weapon slot: left click to heal someone else, right-click to heal yourself, but you have to keep it readied to recharge it. The Armoury is the glorified walk in closet that you find throughout the game. The Medkit is on the last screen of the eight or so screens of weapons, most of which you automatically start with. Those ones you don't, you unlock with cash at the weapons shop in the main base, helpfully also signposted as the Armoury. You'll need minimum stats to unlock these weapons, which is bizarre, since you can pick up and use any of them which you find on the ground in game. Don't forget to load up on ammunition as well. But also: any time you pick up a weapon, your weapon order is probably going to change. So hit 1 though 5 to figure out which readies what.

4. Medical

While you're shopping at the weapon shop, you may want to saunter down to the Medical facility next to it: a mere 30 seconds of walking through the most monumentalist architecture this side of any of the actual mission levels; and pick yourself up Cloaking. That's because the Medical sign should actually read Cybernetics Implanting, and you'll want Cloak, because most of the levels would like you to take advantage of the games great stealth mechanics.

5. Stealth

If you play the first real mission, you should see your contact cloak away. You'll then have about two seconds to cloak yourself, before the enemy sees you from seemingly impossible distances, and starts shooting immediately. You might think that Stealth in this game is broken. It's not. Enemies see you at about the same point in time you should be seeing them: that is, line of sight if they're facing you. This is how you do Stealth properly (I'm looking at you Deus Ex: HR for how to do stealth if you're a five year old). Cloak is the cheap way of doing stealth. What you should be doing is switching to a see through walls vision mode, and shooting the people on the other side with your silenced wall penetrating sub machine gun. Or you could wait until they turn around, then run out and backstab them.

6. Melee

There are two types of game designers in the world: those who have read and understood what makes Snow Crash one the great 20th century novels, and those who have not. The difference is obvious. One group consists of 99% of mainstream and indie developers. The other gives you a katana as the default melee weapon. Thankfully Streum fall into the later category, and then some. Attacking with the katana is a satisfying limb chopping experience, and you'll get a backstab if you attack from behind. But more importantly, right-click to block. This blocks incoming attacks, including bullets, at a small energy cost. Crouch to regenerate energy faster, which should allow you to block a lot longer, if not indefinitely.

7. Sprinting

You still get a melee attack while you're using any other weapon. This occurs if you left click while you're close enough to an enemy to lower the weapon you are currently holding, and results in a telekinetic pulse which instantly kills your target, turning them into a fine red mist, or sending them flying. You can also use this attack while you're sprinting (holding down the shift key); also while sprinting you can right click to block with the weapon you're holding - which for large guns like the minigun, stops most incoming attacks. Sprinting with the shift key is the same as using the sprint ability; similarly crouch jumping is the same as your cyber jump ability.

8. Conversation Trees

E.Y.E. is first and foremost an RPG, with especially innovative (some might say 'out there') mechanics. Consider conversation trees. In your home base, they function much like any other game with branching conversations. But while on missions, most conversation trees because conversation minefields. Unless you make the right choice at each pause  - and there's usually only one right option - you'll end up in a firefight with the person you're talking to. And they won't politely wait for you to attack first.

9. Hacking

The hacking minigame is one of those really important things that is poorly explained. Make sure that your attack is greater than their defense using Scan and Overflow, use Shield to increase your defense and Mask to lower their attack, and remember to attack occasionally; most importantly, you need to wait until your existing action completes before you try another. [Edit to add: ]

10. Exploration

The levels are big and reward a thorough exploration, maybe. Everywhere will take minutes longer to get to than you expect. There's plenty of empty open spaces, dead ends, secret passages, and vents. The vents appear to be designed to highlight how E.Y.E. is the anti-Deus Ex. The crawl speed is the slowest I've ever seen in an FPS, and the vents so far have lead nowhere you couldn't normally access by walking ten feet further. But the scale of ambition in the maps is also like nothing else I've seen. They perhaps overstep the mark, but that seems to be the symptom of a game which has grown on me every time I've played.

[Edit: You might want to watch this game play video if you don't own the game yet... ]


matt said...

augh, I want so bad to like this game, but every time I sit down to play it I'm immediately reminded of why I stopped playing it the last time. it's so very very awkward.

Andrew Doull said...

Go read the Something Awful thread for more inspiration...

Matt said...

Thank you, this post was exactly what I needed. I bought EYE, played a mission, and filed it as "awesome mechanics, but going to take some work to get into". This post got me excited about the game again, and gave me some much need starter help. I figured out the medkits by myself, but I hadn't bought or used cloaking yet, and I was wondering what that random telekentic thing I kept doing was.

Edwin DeNicholas said...

Nice tips, I hadn't considered the ability to shoot through walls. I bought this game at full price when it came out, and promptly played for 35 hours. I especially like the fact that you can revisit cleared stages and receive randomly selected missions to perform.

Holsety said...

The power of the telekinetic push attack you do while your gun is lowered depends on how much energy you have left though. It's not good for anything but creating space if you're almost out.

I really liked your idea for shooting through walls as a stealth approach! I'll have to roll up a designated stealth character to get the most out of it.

Specializing is really the way to go in E.Y.E. I feel, especially since cybernetic upgrades get real expensive real fast.