Estranged Act 2 – Alpha Build

Estranged Act 2 is the upcoming sequel to Alan Edwardes’ Estranged Act 1 which was positively received on Steam and ModDB. Estranged Act 2 is currently available as an alpha on itch.io and the official Estranged site.  If you have not already, be sure to read my review on Estranged Act 1! Act 1 originally started out as a Half-Life 2 mod, eventually becoming its own standalone title using the Source Engine. Alan Edwardes has moved on from the Source Engine to using the Unreal 4 Engine. With this change of game engines, Alan Edwardes and his team will have more freedom in content creating and implementing advanced features for Act 2.

Act 2 begins after the cut-scene where the fisherman falls through the rotten floor of an old wood shack. Having the story pick up exactly where Act 1 makes me so happy. It is exactly where I want to continue the Estranged story after Act 1 cruelly left me hanging with a cliffhanger.

20170303220300_1I can never get over how crisp the textures look in-game on the Unreal Engine. In the first few minutes, I spent more time marveling how detailed and realistic the rock textures looked than paying attention to my surroundings. I paid the price for that inattention rather abruptly, when I fell through what I assumed was a puddle.

It was not a puddle.

Although I have to say, that water slide looked really odd to me. It might due to how unrealistic it looked having the water go perfectly straight down, despite going down at an angle. Otherwise I have no idea what was bothering me about that particular section.

The sound design was solid so far from what I heard while playing the alpha. There was some ambient environmental sounds, and times were it was deathly silent. It was the silence that unnerved me the most. The sound effects such as splashing into the water and walking on the dirt outside was clearly heard. I particularly enjoyed hearing the sound of the dirt and leaves crunching under the player’s feet as he walked/ran around.

The objects had a nice subtle interactive glow which made it easy to distinguish what you could interact with, and what wasn’t interactive. As I said, the glow is subtle enough to get your attention but not glaringly obnoxious.

20170303221409_1At first I thought I had to use a lantern as the light source, when I went to try pick it up I ended up picking the box up instead causing the lantern to disappear. Although I did find a lantern near the elevator later on, so it might been the same one that vanished on me. I do have to say though, the flashlight could use some work. I found it incredibly hard to see anything since the light was so dim. This is true when I encountered red ambient lighting deeper into the cave. I ended up just not using the flashlight since I could hardly see anything, and the ambient light was bright enough.

Implementing a flashlight battery meter will be a good idea for future builds, since I had no way of telling when the batteries were about to die. The batteries also did not last long in my opinion. I had low batteries at one point, and picked up fresh batteries for the flashlight and yet my flashlight still died seconds after finding new batteries. So I ended up playing nearly 98% of the alpha with no flashlight. The flashlight is the biggest complaint I have so far about Estranged Act 2’s alpha.

I did like that section of the cave, with the different cabins and mysterious pond in the middle. Definitely had a creepy vibe. I actually jumped into the pond to see if it did anything, and was surprisingly disappointed when nothing happened. However I loved the lab facility (?) of the map, that was the creepiest environment by far. I was actually expecting to get a jump-scare at any moment while in there.

20170303222435_1
With this mighty apple, I shall fear no evil

Subtitles for the tape recorders that the player can pick up will be immensely helpful as well. I barely understood what was being said so I feel like I missed a lot on the story. Speaking of story, I did enjoy finding out more about the island’s past and the people who lived on it by reading the newspapers and notes left in the office.

Final point I have to say about the alpha is that, the office furniture really like to fly at high speeds whenever you run into them. Scared myself at one point when one of the office chairs went crashing into the wall after I ran into it. I do like that addition of fully readable book. I doubted it was readable when I picked it up, and it was literally an entire book.

Nevertheless, I am immensely looking forward to when Estranged Act 2 is available as an early access title on the Steam store. The level design is the best attribute in my opinion of the alpha.  Hoping that will remain the case in the future incarnations of the game.

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