- Excellent soundtrack and artwork
- Interesting concept
- Easy to pick up and learn to play
- Repetitive gameplay
- No real challenge
On the surface, Displaced has all the makings of an interesting game. You control a party of survivors hailing from a war torn country and your job is to lead them to safety. Each of your five survivors have their own particular strengths and weaknesses that could end up being a help or a hindrance as you progress through the world and meeting other groups of survivors, fighting for your life, trading for essential supplies or attempting to pass by them unnoticed. Unfortunately, whilst it is an interesting game, it is not particularly strong in its execution.
To begin with, your five party members are chosen for you and have traits that range from somebody being a chef and therefore able to feed the group with less resources, to somebody that is an alcoholic. More characters do unlock as time goes on, but with no real personality or further backstory than the specific traits you are given, you do not connect with them in any way as the game progresses, nor do you find them having any real effect on the game world.
In fact, the game is driven more by events than its characters. Displaced attempts to liven up proceedings by giving you an open world map to move through, and by employing RNG to give random results to each of your encounters. However, as you move through the game the results of such encounters repeat on such a regular basis that the gameplay stats to feel forced and predictable. For example, greeting other groups of survivors will usually mean that the meeting passes without incident, leaving these interactions feeling scripted rather than ruled by the RNG mechanic. Bearing in mind the volume of other groups and points of interest that appear on your map, dealing with these can prove to be quite time-consuming whilst not having any effect on the story or your party.
Another mechanic introduced to give some sort of challenge to the game is the eating and resting systems. The party will collect or buy food as it moves around the map and if you do not stop to feed your party regularly enough they will become ill or even die. A lack of rest will mean increased stress, but whilst this may lead to a scripted exchange between party members that threatens to have an effect, it never quite seems to do so. In fact, both resting and eating become one more chore that you do as part of a routine as opposed to being an engaging part of the gameplay, particularly once you get a few game days into your playthrough.
Combat is also quite straightforward, and once your party gains access to weapons often does not raise any real challenge. Whilst the game gives you the option to set each of your characters as attacking, in stealth or hiding, more often than not the combat is so easy that all the player needs to do is to set the game to auto-conclude any combat and collect any items dropped by the other party once the fight is over. The combat feels like is was meant to be so much more, bearing in mind you can choose the positioning of your party members prior to engaging your enemies, but in reality has no effect on the outcome.
Add to this a story which feels disjointed and non-cohesive, and the game begins to feel repetitive and doesn’t hold a player’s attention. This is not to say that Displaced does not have a good basis to its story. At the beginning of the game you choose from three different ways to complete the first part of the story that leads to you having to collect different items or a sum of money in order to reach that goal. The other parts of the game differ enough that some interest remains, but sadly jumping from one part of the story to the next with no real explanation leaves the player feeling pushed from pillar to post and does not garner any investment in the story as it evolves.
Aesthetically however, Displaced is a good looking game. With a drab artwork style that fits perfectly with the games narrative, and with its excellent background music, it has a definite charm.
Displaced is not an unenjoyable game, but it does have many elements that could do with some improvement. However, for a price of just £4.79 on Steam, and the hope that later updates could improve its gameplay, it could still be worth picking up. For example, a quick tweak to the RNG mechanic to give more varied conclusions to the various interactions that you have with other survivors would improve Displaced massively.
Displaced is available for the PC on Steam now.