Megalan 11 is a puzzle exploration game starting with a crew of space scientists who respond to a SOS call, only to crash land during their rescue attempt. Your 5 man crew seeks shelter in a nearby structure, but with 11 days of Oxygen can you fix your ship and escape the red planet.
We’ve been fortunate enough to get Megalan 11 a few weeks before release, and while we’re told it’s the full game, we’re not happy about finalising the review until release, so should the state of the game improve before release, we will revise this review on or before the 30th November.
If that sounds a little negative, you’re right, it is, because unfortunately Megalan 11 has far too many issues, ranging from disappointing and infuriating to completely game-breaking, some aren’t ever going to be fixed, but we’re really hoping many are because beneath the issues, there’s the potential of a decent little game.
Sadly the problems start right at the beginning, on the main menu, you attempt to press A to start and nothing happens, B, Start/Menu, still nothing. For some reason, someone felt it was a good idea to make “X” the button that confirms your menu choices, and didn’t even bother to add “Press X” on the screen. It’s a tiny niggle to get us started, but it’s just a taste of things to come.
Around now, you’ll be equally as dismayed by the background music, a few notes, with no specific tune, it sounds similar to when my 11yr old got her hands on a keyboard (and she’s not the most musical girl), after starting your first game, you’re greeted with a sound that can only be described as an annoying squabble which is supposed to be the voices of your crewmates chatting, the background music has declined to that of my 6yr old on a Pepper Pig piano, but thankfully the ship soon crashes and the music stops.
Down on the red planet, your crew of 5 head for shelter, and you’ll have to smash surrounding objects to collect enough parts to fix doors and machines to start getting your adventure on the way. It might be fine if your crew-mates did something, but you have zero control over these burdens who should have been left at the ship to rot, but we’ll get to that later.
It’s simple enough to fix your first few doors, turn on the electricity and access more of the shelter, but sadly the problems continue to come thick and fast. Firstly the X button is used to hit (break items to gain parts) as well as repair (use those parts), but the contextual recognition is aweful, you will be pressing X multiple times, only to see your character trying to fix mid-air, and even when lined up perfectly, wanting to destroy an item, it doesn’t always register your position, and I found myself constantly having to rotate the camera to behind the crewman, for it to reliably notice I was trying to destroy the bookshelf, not make an Ikea flat-plack replica.
Inside, it’s not too bad, but when outside the shelter, you’ll need to move the camera as any nearby structures completely block it, and instead of a free camera we can position, you’re left with 4 pre-set angles which never feel like they’re showing enough
Back to collecting resources and the storage bag you find early on, will only carry 50 parts, that’s enough for the doors, but some machines cost 150, the security drone costs 300, and with very little direction or guidance, you’re left collecting 50, put them into the machine your repairing, and then head back to collect more before repeating the task, again and again.
There is a container on one of the lower floors where you can deposit parts from your bag, to collect more than 50, but this limits you to a very small area of the map, and just as much walking back and forth.
Unfortunately, it gets worse, when you arrive back with your second bundle of parts, you have to wait for all the parts you’ve invested to be returned to your container (overarching part storage), before you can then re-invest them with your new parts. This isn’t even quick, it’s boring, repetitive and time-consuming, 150 is bad enough, but that security drone that requires 300 parts…
Sure enough I made 6 trips back and forth, watching as all the invested credits were returned, time and time again.
As you explore more, you do come across some fabric which can be used to increase the capacity of your bag, but on my first game, after expanding my bag storage to 150, of the 11 days, I had 8 hours left, so all that work was wasted, due to a lack of direction and a pretty stingy timeframe.
Heading back for the second attempt, and I thought I’d learnt my lesson… Those big metal doors, each cost 50 to replace, but within minutes of getting fixed, some of the local wildlife have destroyed it again, you can fix the machine that makes defensive weapons that you can place around the structure, but unfortunately this doesn’t always work, you can smack X as many times as you want, but after literally 10 minutes of dancing around the machine tapping X in every possible location, I managed to make a single defensive weapon, I placed it next to a door, and sure enough, that was destroyed too.
There’s a choice of two weapons, one attracts one species but repels another, while the second does the opposite, that would be fine if they worked, but with at least 2 other species hanging around, the “weapons” and the nearby doors were destroyed time and time again.
If you want to succeed, you’re probably best ignoring the doors and weapons, saving your parts and time, and just allowing the wildlife to nibble away at your crewmates.
This Certainly isn’t a bad call, as your crewmates are completely useless, their main purpose in life is to curl up in the fetal position every time one of their friends get knocked out by the wildlife, and they refuse to move until you pick up their friend, or go up to each of them and give them a reassuring pat on the head, like a puppy that’s just retrieved a stick for the first times
So we’ve established that caring for your crewmates, the doors, wildlife and weapons are a waste of time, so what exactly do you have to do?
The structure has a basement and 5 floors in total, heading down to the basement to restore power is the first port of call, but you’ll want to keep an eye on locked doors, to return and grab the parts from nearby boxes and furniture
There are a few boxes of Tuna, which can be taken back to the Kitchen on the ground floor, to give you a stamina boost and decrease the hits needed when collecting parts, and a Tazer, which can be used for knocking away the local fauna (wildlife) and you’ll eventually come across 2 cards that can be entered into a computer to access navigation (blue lines showing you a direction… That’s it, no reason, no order, and no idea where you’re going or how far it is, but you’re likely to have ruined a few more games before you explore them all.
There’s also 4 panels around a giant hologram, repairing these at 150 each is pretty essential as they will allow you to rotate 4 of the upper levels, which will allow access to areas previously locked away, working out where to rotate each of the 4 levels is again convoluted and time-consuming, and once again you’re left with zero guidance and just a brief description when you press B next to anything.
Obviously, we touched on the poor sound, and graphically there’s no improvement, bland scenery, and limited animation, we’ve all seen far better-looking games on the Xbox 360, let alone the Xbox One or Series X/S, it does remain smooth and lag-free, but with so little to render, that’s not exactly glowing praise.
Megalan promises puzzles and exploration, but the absnede of any helpful direction make exploration a chore and with puzzles that are too thin on the ground and infuriating, you’re left wondering why you’ve tolerated it to even get to this point.
It’s only the £8.39 price tag that provides any sort of value, but I’d still be struggling to make a recommendation if it was completely free.
The final nail in the coffin is the crashes to dashboard, after exhausting the shelter, I ventured off to the areas shown the the navigation panel (LT), I came across a handful of equally dull locations, another fabric to further expand the bag, as well as building structure that needed power restoring. Sadly upon trying to return to the shelter, the game crashed, time and time again, even if I’d got there, the navigation didn’t offer any suggestion to where I’d already been, but when it’s crashing to dashboard in sections that are crucial to completing the game, it’s completely game-breaking.
I know it might read like I’ve been incredibly harsh throughout this review, but I’m honestly appalled, and I’ve been nothing more than 100% honest, I truly hope the developers read this, because the gaming world expects better, and if Megalan 11 is released in this state, I’m sure it’ll get many reviews that aren’t as fair as this one.
I can’t even remember the last time I played a game in such a poor state, and while issues like sound and useless crewmates are unlikely to ever improve, the crashes, button commands and depositing parts into a repair, actually working like they should is an absolute must-have for release day.
Instead we’re left forced to avoid half of the gameplay initiative because it’s just a waste of time and effort due to some terrible balancing issues.
What’s even more annoying is Megalan is developed by Sometimes You, the team behind some really well-made games like ‘In Rays of Light” and “Metropolis: Lux Obscura”, these guys are capable of excellence and I’ve praised them very highly in the past but Megalan is poor, buggy, lazy and inexcusable.
I really hope there’s a day 1 patch that will bring me back to revise this with a slightly higher score, but when given a game, without notice of any pending updates, we have scored Megalan-11 below according to its state only 1 week before release and being completely honest, I don’t think any number of patches could lift Megalan 11 to anything more than a mediocre mess of missed opportunities.