Defunct originally released for the PC almost two years ago to a respectably warm reception, and now, Soedesco are finally bringing it to current gen hardware. On Xbox One, Defunct supports Xbox Play Anywhere. This means that you can play it on both Xbox One and Windows 10 with just one single copy. Progress and achievements will seamlessly carry over from platform to platform, enabling you to move over from one to the other as you see fit. Defunct isn’t particularly hardware-demanding, so if (like me) you don’t have the best PC specs, there’s a good chance that Defunct will run smoothly regardless. It helps of course that the game is generously priced, considering it’s a solid and well rounded adventure experience that offers hours of play.
Defunct throws you into the role of a broken robot that’s accidentally cast out of a large cargo ship onto a now robot inhabited post-human Earth. Tasked with getting back to your ship before it’s too late, you’ll be speeding through the environments with a sense of desperation and awe as you utilize your trusty gravitize engine. This device creates a unique gravity field that’s exclusive to you, and is your main speed resource. Using it downhill will accelerate your speed, whereas using it uphill will slow you down, surprisingly. That’s not to say that Defunct is merely a game of speed and momentum, because there’s more to this adventure game than meets the eye. That being said, momentum is often the forefront importance that will see you achieving your goals.
Defunct does an okay job at giving you the basics of play during the initial stages of the game, but doesn’t go on to hold your hand for longer than is needed. Gameplay typically sees you moving from A to B, with varied obstacles and map layouts to maneuver around throughout. You can pick up a collection of boosts that will aid you when you’re in need, as well as rely on large pads that will thrust you into the air for brief portions of time. Much to be expected when toying with gravity, you can use your gravitize engine in a variety of clever ways to manipulate the robot in order to succeed in making your way back home. These functions include being able to stick to an upside-down surface, timing your momentum right to glide through the air following a steep hilltop, and other interesting tidbits to keep the energy levels high.
The pick-ups that you can grab are massive icons encased in bright light, ensuring that you don’t miss sight of them as you’re whizzing through the maps. The controls remain tight and responsive throughout, leaving no room to blame any failures on the game. With that to the side, the learning curve can be just as steep as the terrain. Several times did I need to take a step back to practice mastering the concept of momentum before I felt adequate enough to move through each zone. You can indeed use boosts and jumps independently, and its here in which Defunct truly feels exhilarating. It’s utterly satisfying to pull off a perfectly timed jump to then land precisely where you needed to, using nothing other than the skills that you’ve picked up through trial and error.
That sums up Defunct quite well. Irrespective of the fact that it takes just 90 minutes to complete on a moderate run, there’s a lot of replay value to be had. You can spend your time repeating each stage to find a better path to the end, or you can simply sit back and explore the surroundings to appreciate the level design. Defunct shines at its brightest once you have mastered the momentum system and the controls, and it’s quite the pay-off to go back and see how well you stack up against your first attempts. Especially when you’ve unlocked new special tricks and skins for the robot. Once you have completed the campaign, you can try your luck at competing for the best time via the time trial mode, which adds to the longevity of the game. It helps that the soundtrack is supremely suited to the experience, giving you something soothing yet subtle to listen to from beginning to end.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the game is the map design and the diverse locations. I found the visuals, despite not being breathtaking, to be wonderfully crafted and well laid out. Each stage feels fresh and inviting, regardless as to whether it’s your first visit or your tenth. The story on the other hand is meager and far from the most appealing segment of the game, but in fairness, it serves as a mere backbone to hold everything together. I only wish there was more of it, or at least more emphasis on what’s included. The protagonist is cute and likable but outside of some repetitive daft animations, such as constantly bashing itself, it doesn’t really do much to connect with its audience. Still, you can hardly grumble at a game that packs quite a punch at such a reasonable price.
Defunct offers a well rounded adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a game that doesn’t try to stand out, but instead rest on its laurels of relaying that old-school Sonic-like gameplay. The story is forgettable and the functionality of play can take some getting used to, but if you bear with it, Defunct wont disappoint.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.