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Publisher: Paolo Cosentino
Developer: Paolo Cosentino
Minimum requirements: Intel Celeron 2.0 GHz, 256 MB RAM, Windows 98, 3D Graphics (developer has not tested the game under Windows Vista)
Genre: First-person shooter/Adventure
Release date: Available now
Review by: Bob Mandel
Sometimes in the midst of highly touted blockbusters, a surprise game emerges that stands out from the crowd. Such is the case for TECNO, an obscure release from Montevideo, Uruguay that was largely developed by a single individual across several years. This title has a high ambition: to provide a hybrid science-fiction first-person shooter/adventure/puzzle play experience in a manner that is quite distinct from most of what is out there. TECNO takes a big risk by refusing to mimic current fads in its design.
The plot is not one of TECNO’s strong points, as sadly there is very little story development. Despite a fascinating introductory video, you don’t find out much about whom or where you are, and as you progress you never really learn much more. Your mission is to escape from an advanced technology-filled base where robots have malfunctioned. The ending of this game, while nicely done, will leave you wanting more. Although the first-person shooter crowd does not always demand a plot, adventure fans do, and they will be disappointed.
The level design in TECNO is nicely varied and never seems repetitive. The developer cleverly uses all dimensions of space to his advantage; you can often see an important item from above or below, but you can’t get to it until you progress further and find less-direct access. The map is a real help in dealing with the complexities of navigating the vents and corridors, which can be confusing, but is usually obtained only after you have done quite a bit of exploring. In a few instances, you are required to pass through special places (which in other games might be labeled “secret” areas) that are sometimes almost impossible to find, but you do get access to some very cool special goggles that let you see through walls in certain areas – a great help when you do not have a map. Traps abound both indoors and out, and force fields and turrets threaten to end your journey. The levels are designed so that you have to use your wits to outsmart these traps instead of just blowing them up. The placement of enemies is randomized, so every time you enter a room you have no idea what to expect.
The puzzles in TECNO are usually very logical, yet they often take quite a while to work out. You need a great deal of patience, for you will often see a puzzle that you are not able to complete at that point, forcing you to play more to find relevant information. This may sound frustrating, but you can conveniently backtrack to almost anywhere, so you always have a shot at overcoming the challenge. Some of these puzzles involve an understanding of physics, while others require math skills. This combination provides a sound gameplay balance; one moment you are trying to discover the right pattern of lights to turn off a machine, then later you are using a crane to maneuver crates in the right positions to block streams of water. Each puzzle is refreshingly different from the others (and most differ from those found in other games), making this one of the most enjoyable parts of TECNO.
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