Thankful. That’s how I felt once I hit the ending in Tyler Model 005. I wasn’t thankful because the game, its mechanics or its story instilled any sense of pleasure, quite the opposite, in fact. I was thankful that my time with Tyler had come to an end. How in hell this game made it through QA without its many, many issues being detected is beyond me. If there’s one game that you avoid this week, make sure it’s this. Tyler Model 005 is the product of lazy, sloppy design that wont only bore you, but will likely frustrate you throughout its entirety.
The premise of the game tells of a small robot known as Tyler being accidentally powered-up by a thunderstorm, after years of being powered down. Now powered-up and back to life, Tyler must set off to find out what has become of his creator and his home. The game is set in the 1950s and takes the frame of a 3D platformer. Players are tasked with traversing a modest-sized home in search of clues, solving the occasional environmental puzzle and so forth. Though, in truth, Tyler Model 005 is a four hour long fetch quest, one that’s riddled with bugs and poor optimization.
The game attempts to feed you into the basics of play via a short informative tutorial that lasts little over five minutes. Once complete, you’re thrown into the meat of the matter and this, ladies and gentlemen, is where crap hits the proverbial fan. Let’s start with the game’s mechanics, because to be fair, they’re at the very least competent to some degree. Tyler can be upgraded at certain terminals using scraps that are obtained through leveling up. These upgrades encompass all of the usual traits; speed, weaponry and so on. Tyler can also be customized at other terminals.
This is achieved through collecting cosmetics throughout the course of the game and if you manage to find a full set, you’ll be able to don a card that’s helpful to your output. These sets include outfits such as angels and rappers, of all things. What I will say is that the game does a good job at tucking these collectibles away in some tricky places, promoting some emphasis on exploration. Once you’ve completed the game, Tyler will keep you informed as to which rooms you’ve not yet cleared of total acquisition, which is a helpful tool for those that enjoy max completion.
That, for the most part, is the meat of the game’s functionality. I cant say that I noticed anything more to obtaining scraps when leveling-up, making this specific system feel tacked on in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t help that the upgrade system isn’t well aligned with the game’s overall length. I managed to complete the game with only a handful of upgrades unlocked, and felt far from compelled to unlock mode of Tyler’s abilities due to the game’s ridiculous amount of issues. Let’s take the game’s shortcomings from the top, shall we?
Once the tutorial is over, players will find themselves in the basement of the aforementioned house. There’s a small variety of enemies (bugs and insects) to kill, which will grant you some XP towards a level-up. To begin with, Tyler can only use his fists and feet to dish out damage, but before long, you’ll obtain one of four swords for that extra kick. The combat is clunky and slow from the get-go, hell, even just hitting your target is a task in itself. When you’re not doing this, chances are you’ll be locating an item in the room before moving to the next.
Oftentimes, these items will be needed in order to progress; either to unlock a door or hand over to the game’s two NPCs. There’s a total of two ways in which Tyler can be harmed; through the life bar and the battery bar. The battery will deplete whenever you take any damage, and can be replenished through picking up batteries throughout the home. Now, as for the life bar, this will begin to deplete whenever you step out of the light. This includes daylight and lamp-light. Believe me, this design choice alone almost had me rage quit on several occasions.
You see, the home that you inhabit is dark and dank. The only immediate source of light is the few cracks of daylight that break through the windows. Staying in this light will ensure that your life bar remains replenished, which will begin running dry the moment you step into the darkness. The same rules apply to the lamps and lights that you can activate throughout the home. What’s annoying is that this life bar runs dry pretty quickly, meaning there’s a lot of backtracking by core design. This is made all the more frustrating by the loading screens.
In Tyler Model 005, there’s a loading screen for everything, and these loading times tend to stick around for up to thirty seconds a whack. Moving from room to room? There’s a loading screen for each door. Bite the proverbial dust? There’s a loading screen each time. Want to try out the game’s built-in side activity – defending a station from the same dull enemy over and over again? There’s a loading screen for that too. This only gets worse further into the game when you’re tasked with fetching items from all over the house. Doesn’t sound like much, does it?
Well, it is. When you need to move from the basement to the attic, there’s a loading screen for exiting the basement to the hallway, and then entering the attic from the hallway. What’s worse is that each room or hallway in Tyler Model 005 takes not longer than a few seconds to reach from end to end, making for a game that’s freakin’ loading screen galore. That, believe it or not, is the game’s least pressing issue. The main issues rest with the performance of the game and its ugly visuals, stiff animations, broken cut-scenes and poor voice acting.
Tyler Model 005 likes to get you exploring each room. Whether this is the rafters of the living room or the high shelves in the basement, you’ll need to climb, jump and climb your way to the top. Again, doesn’t sound hard, right? Wrong! Getting Tyler to grab onto a ledge is nothing short of torture. Tyler seems to decide when he wants to grab onto something or not, meaning that you’ll spend more time falling than you will traversing – that is, providing your life bar doesn’t kill you by being in the shadows for too long. This is further hindered by Tyler’s awkward movements.
Tyler moves in such a way that I can only describe as trying to handle a shopping trolley with a dodgy wheel. I lost count at how many times I nailed a jump, for Tyler to then pop off in the wrong direction entirely, soon after. Group this with the annoying jump detection and we’ve a recipe for something that’s going to give you a headache. It doesn’t end there. The game will also seemingly fling Tyler high across the environment for no reason at all in true Goat Simulator fashion. This, by all means, is a broken game and in the occasion that it does work, it doesn’t work very well.
The story is ridiculously thin and the outcome is about as satisfying as stubbing your toe on a door. The voice acting is horrendous, which when grouped with the poor writing, makes for an experience that you just cant forget – for all the wrong reasons. The core gameplay loop is as dry as they come; go here, go there, bring this here and take this there. That’s the sum of the gameplay throughout. Throw in the muddy, eye-burning visuals and Tyler Model 005 may well be the worst game I’ve played on Xbox One this gen, and yes, I’ve played Activision’s Ghostbusters and Yasai Ninja.
Don’t be fooled by the store’s slick images, Tyler Model 005 is a terrible game. There’s not a single quality that I can praise the game for outside of its somewhat competent upgrade and cosmetic system. This is the very product of lazy, rushed and sloppy development, making for an ugly experience that’s riddled with bugs, poor optimization, frustrating functionality, and heaps of loading screens, throughout.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.