Alekhine’s Gun is a game that I very much wanted to enjoy. That is probably what accounts for my level of disappointment while playing through its various, and admittedly varied, levels. I love the stealth, Hitman inspired game genre and I saw a lot of potential during my time with the game; unfortunately, every time I thought the gameplay was beginning to click, my fun would become hamstrung by the myriad of problems that leave Alekhine’s Gun a tough game to recommend. Things start out compelling enough with the story set up by voice overs against a backdrop of a series of water color style static photos. The art style isn’t the most sophisticated, but the dialogue is just cryptic enough to pique my interest. Unfortunately, the gameplay begins soon thereafter and it’s a slow downward spiral from there.
Anyone who has played a Hitman game will know immediately what to expect after only a few minutes with this game. Sneaking around, hiding bodies, changing outfits to blend in; it’s all here. The comparison to Hitman is unavoidable, but also shouldn’t be taken as an insult as plenty of games in the past have borrowed elements and ideas from other titles to great effect. The problem with Alekhine’s Gun is that it takes several ideas from the Hitman titles – as well as a few others – but does not improve on them in any way, and in most cases, makes them worse. This unfortunate instance gives anyone playing the game a sense that everything they’re experiencing is merely a worse version of a far better experience that could be had elsewhere.
All of this would be objectively unfortunate for any game, but Alekhine’s Gun feels like a particular disappointment as there are a number of moments where a lot of potential seeps through the otherwise ugly cracks. While most of the objectives are par for the course (take out a particular target and flee the scene undetected), there are some moments that have genuine elements of originality. Tapping a phone and listening in on a conversation and trying to find a way into a locked hotel room may sound like a mundane activity but after killing scads of generic Nazi’s, they are welcome diversions. Sadly, even simple objectives devolve into red-faced frustration as you are given almost no direction on how to complete your tasks. AI is also wildly inconsistent as your enemies run the gamut from obscenely stupid yokels who wouldn’t notice an elephant in the tub with them, to supernaturally enhanced beings with the uncanny ability to locate you even through walls. You also get the pleasure of dealing with what might be the most useless mini map to ever appear in a game. In case you haven’t noticed, the bad outweighs the good in almost every conceivable way.
Stealth games like this are few and far between and with Hitman going the strangely episodic route, Alekhine’s Gun had a golden opportunity to appease fans who were hungry for a taste of sneaky assassination. As it stands though, Alekhine’s Gun is another swing and a miss entry in a genre that we simply do not see enough of. After playing this game however, I think I might know why that is.
Alekhine’s Gun was provided by Maximum Games for review purposes.
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