Set a game in a sterile underground facility, give the player physics-based powers and a first-person view, and it can be hard to stand out from the crowd of games inspired by Portal. Make it a tie-in to the Heroes Reborn television series and you’re just piling on the red flags.
Gemini: Heroes Reborn is the kind of game that has “skip this” written all over its cover, but delve in and you may find some surprises. It’s far from a perfect or even great game, but it certainly distinguishes itself from the pack. And ironically, I found myself reminded more of Half-Life 2 than Portal while playing it.
That said, while there is a kernel of greatness that propelled me through the game, it’s simply too short and half-baked to recommend. I only hope we can see a more polished, fully-realized example of this concept one day.
- Developer Phosphor Games clearly understands the importance of a solid core gameplay loop. Gemini is rough around the edges, but using Cassandra’s powers to fight and navigate the environment feels right in an almost indescribable way. There is satisfaction to be had, whether it’s making it through a room of enemies unscathed or navigating airducts and broken catwalks.
- Gemini plays around with just enough Heroes concepts to qualify as a game for fans, but it never forces you to bring that knowledge into it. The game tells a serviceable story that, thanks to a few twists, puts it on par with the show it’s based on. That’s either a good or a bad thing depending on what you think of Heroes, but for a game story that seemed entirely forgettable after 30 minutes or so, it came together into something surprising before the end.
- Gemini clearly wants to be Half-Life, and that desire sets it apart from other first-person physics/power/puzzle games, Portal included. That difference comes through in the linear navigation and scripted sequences. The game doesn’t have the polish or production value to truly pull it off, but it goes just far enough to evoke Valve’s classic series.
- The combat puzzle in Gemini: Heroes Reborn feels incomplete. I would have liked one or two more tools to give myself more offense and more spacial awareness. I’d also like to see those added abilities challenged with more enemy types. There are a handful of special enemies that force you into corners at first, but once you figure out their trick they don’t feel any more challenging than a standard guard.
- The story is just enough to get you through, but it could have used a few more takes to tweak the delivery of some truly cringe-inducing lines. While it’s a pleasure to hear Robin Atkin Downes in any game, even he has a few rough shouts that his character repeats again and again (and again, if you happen to die).
- It’s clear that Gemini was built on a budget, but you expect a certain attention to detail in a linear action game like this and it missed the mark on a number of occasions. You’ll hit something like an elevator that lacks working doors, and it feels less like a realized world, and more like a string of levels assembled by game designers.
- I don’t think I can emphasize enough that Gemini is really rough around the edges. The Xbox One version I reviewed suffered from some rough framerate issues, not to mention texture pop-in that can leave the world looking like a PS1 game for 10-15 seconds at a time. An ability that lets you peek between time periods also makes the game overly muddy and pixelated. It’s clear they’re trying some fancy tricks with Unreal engine here, but they overreach on consoles.
- Gemini takes about three hours to complete and offers nothing in terms of replay value outside of some collectibles. In terms of both what the game sets out to do and the value proposition, three hours just isn’t long enough. The potential of the combat system alone could have sustained the game for another three hours.
Heroes Reborn may not be the return to form that fans were hoping for, but it got enough push to warrant two tie-in video games. The most substantial of which is Gemini: Heroes Reborn, a first-person, physics-action game that takes place in an underground Renautus facility across two different time periods. In one, the facility is in ruins and overrun with mercenaries. In the other, the facility is pristine — filled with everyday security guards and ongoing experiments.
You play as Cassandra, a new hero who has just discovered her powers, which of course include the ability to jump between these two periods. Top that off with telekinesis and time slowing abilities and you end up with a combat cocktail that turns our gunless hero into an able-bodied warrior. Her goal? To survive, save her friend, and uncover the truth about the facility. Does the super-powered combat and Heroes-fueled story amount to a game worth your time and money? Read on to find out.