Platforms: Playstation 4, PC, and Xbox One (reviewed)
When I got the notice that Gemini: Heroes Reborn was up for review for Pop Culture Beast, I initially let it slide. I’ve never watched a minute of the new season, never mind the initial run of the series a few years ago. I couldn’t imagine it would make any sense for me to review this game without any context for it, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that maybe that’s exactly why I should take a stab at it. No meddlesome fandom getting in my way to color my opinion one way or the other would be the best way to approach this without getting bogged down by previously established lore or anything of the sort. This might be one of the few times I’ve volunteered for something like this and turned out more than pleasantly surprised.
Gemini starts off with you, as Cassandra, sneaking into an abandoned facility with her friend, Alex. He’s helping her find information about her family. Cassandra and Alex may have been something more at one point. Alex seems to want to be more anyway. She’s also been in an accident and has amnesia. They get a bit of a way into the facility and things start to go wrong. A ceiling falls out from under them. Alex gives you some glasses that serve as your HUD and promptly gets captured by guards that shouldn’t be there (abandoned facility, remember?). If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear Gemini started off on some storyboard as a JRPG.
During his abduction, Cassandra has an awakening of sorts and finds herself with an ability to maneuver through time (Life is Strange, much?). Well, two time periods specifically – the present and a few years into the past when the facility was less abandoned (and considerably less rundown) than it is now. You can transport yourself to either timeline at will, barring any obstruction in your current space. You can also “time peek,” which is opening a globby looking portal to see into the timeline that you’re not currently in. Cassandra’s first ability makes for some mildly interesting traversal puzzle solving, but it only gets more interesting from there.
Cassandra finds a formula lying around on a table and then literally injects herself with telekinetic powers (interestingly enough, much later on you come across a virus vial that counts as one of the collectibles and she comments that she’s not sure why she picked up a vial with a virus and proceeds to put it down with the vocal cue of handling weapon-grade plutonium). She also becomes able to slow down time, stop and throw back projectiles, and her abilities grow, being able to lift and hurl heavier objects and being able to slow down time longer.
Really, it’s almost unfair to the soldiers that try to stop her. She’s able to mow them down easily enough with whatever is laying around as it is. Being able to grab something in one timeline, open up a time peek portal, set yourself up for a clear shot, and transport back to the other timeline to clobber an enemy with a filing cabinet is fun, but as you unlock more abilities and get more proficient with them, Cassandra can really cause some havoc if you get creative. I found myself screwing with groups of enemies, trying to lure them into a cluster by jumping between timelines and then seeing how many I could knock out at once with a large object. It became a bit of morbid bowling. Or letting an enemy shoot at me, slow down time, run behind him and grab him with telekinesis, and run him straight through with his own bullets. The possibilities are vast and, I suspect, the more of a jerk you are, the more interesting ways you’ll find to take down all that would stand in your way.
You’ll find plenty of room for experimentation and error, as you’re almost never in any real danger of dying. Cassandra’s health and abilities recharge quickly and you’ll rarely find yourself overwhelmed. The enemy encounters are rather well designed, giving you plenty of room to flee if the going gets tough and lots of objects and environmental hazards (like giant fans to fling them into!) to wreck anyone who dares slow you down. Gemini is at its absolute best when it gives you a few enemies to deal with at once and makes you get creative.
If I’ve sold you on the game based on the last couple of paragraphs, hold your horses, there’s some definite flaws in the game as well. Graphically, it’s not pretty. Character models aren’t great. Environments are rather bland. Hell, a couple of areas looked ripped right out of Mirror’s Edge, down to the white walls and red piping. Objects clip into the environment a lot. While I normally don’t have a huge issue with this, it was particularly jarring when an object would do that and continually make a clacking noise until it was dislodged. That is if you can find it. I happened into an instance about midway through where a second group of soldiers come after Cassandra after she dispatches a first group. During the fight with the first group, one of the objects I hurled got stuck in the geometry somewhere. It was a touch maddening hearing the clack-clack-clack of the object for a few minutes, only disappearing when I was able to move to the next area. The sound even followed me through switching timelines, probably proving to be the most effective weapon against Cassandra throughout the whole game.
The story isn’t great either. I can’t speak to how it compares to the show, but the twists are only surprising if you played the game muted and didn’t read the conversation texts in your glasses (an admittedly cool way to handle subtitles) at all until you reunite with Alex later in the game. The voice acting peaks and valleys, with some solid highs and rather cringe-worthy lows, but it stays above passable when it’s not hitting those notes. There’s some secret items (like the aforementioned virus vial) to find that might add a little more to the story and be cool nods to fans of the show, but, again, I’ve never watched the show, so I couldn’t say for certain how much the items all tie in.
Gemini: Heroes Reborn is a fun game. It was tied to a rather not-well received season of Heroes, meaning this game might get completely swept under the rug for a lot of people. It’s short, it has its share of flaws, but it’s a rather fun game that doesn’t, to its credit, overstay its welcome. I had a lot more fun with it than I was really expecting. I certainly would never warn anyone way. If I recommend it to someone, it would be a recommendation with more than a few caveats. If you’re looking for something to go nuts with and abuse superpowers, Gemini is definitely worth at least considering. If Phosphor Games makes another game similar to this, you can count me in for giving it a whirl.