Video Game Review: Fray (PC, 2012)
Short Version: Fray is a turn-based, simultaneous action game in the vein of Frozen Synapse, but with slightly bland 3D graphics. I was unable to get through a game despite repeated attempts and the gameplay did not seem terribly strategy when I did get to play. Score: 2 out 10.
I was pretty excited about Brain Candy’s Fray when I first heard of it a few months ago. I’m a big fan of Mode 7 Games’ Frozen Synapse, a game in which all players simultaneously plan their turns and then lock them in to watch them play out in real times. Fray uses a similar mechanic, but moves the play into a hex-based map with decent-enough 3D graphics and the promise of character customization.
Sadly, any of this would matter if the game worked properly. I held off posting this review as long as I could, I honestly did. I wanted to be able to play the game, but at some point you just have to throw your hands up and review what you have: A broken game. Even after the most recent patch (which locked out players with 32 bit systems), I was still not able to complete a game. I never saw more than about 30 players online and the last time I checked there were eight. I never saw more than one game open at a time. I guess some people just use it as a chat room? I don’t know.
When the game worked, it mostly worked as intended. You move units of various classes around the map (you make a team of four units from a choice of six, no repeating units) from one of four corporations (each provides a different bonus, but they are otherwise identical) and try to eliminate your opponents. However, getting into action takes too long and it doesn’t feel terribly strategic even when you do. Most of the units don’t have any sort of automated fire, meaning that if you tell them to fire at someone and they run away, they just stand there staring at the various other enemy units dumbly. Mostly, then, the game comes down to maneuvering and healing, hoping that you hit more than your opponent does. The game also frequently (even after the last patch) has problems with having to click inches below your target in order to actually do what you want (changing resolution or alt-tabbing out fixed the problem, but I shouldn’t have to do that to begin with). The game does look reasonably nice, but that isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement considering the rest of the package. The colors are pretty muted and I’m fairly confused as to why someone left crates laying around the city everywhere, but it’s the best part of the game by a fair bit.
The times I did manage to get a game the game crashed. The last few times, it crashed about 15 minutes in, which makes me wonder if there’s a memory leak or something. I don’t know. I don’t program computers, but I had three straight games end that way. It was frustrating to actually be playing the game and then have it lock up completely. Even if I had lost, at least I would have gotten to play a game.
Maybe Brain Candy will fix Fray sometime in the future. I can’t say, but I’m not playing the game in the future. Heck, I’m not playing the game in the present. And for that, I am really disappointed. Fray was released in an unplayable state and my experience is that it is still incredibly unstable two and a half weeks after its release. So, with that, I can’t wait any more for them to get this straight.
Score: 2 out of 10
Disclosure: Futile Position was provided with a review copy of Fray by Brain Candy Games.