After spending some quality time with Nathan Drake in his latest adventure called the “Golden Abyss” on my PS Vita I am double-minded how to judge this game. It is one of the best looking games on the Vita and catches a lot of the atmosphere of Nathan’s adventures on the PS3. I also like the shorter episodes, which work very well being on tour.
But there are some things, which really got me frustrated and I am looking especially at you, mini-games. To those of you who haven’t been in touch with the game: There are several mini-games like shooting photos, cleaning items or tracing stone markings on paper. Most of these games force gamers to use the motion or touch controls and it’s not difficult to imagine how these mini-games made it into the game, considering the fact that Golden Abyss is one the main launch titles for Vita and here to show the full potential of the console. The idea may sound right to introduce the different input methods by mini-games but most of them are dull and repetitive or suffer from inaccurate controls. In addition, there is some much stuff to collect (and to miss) in the levels, it’ll be too frustrating for most players to collect everything to unlock the correspondent trophies.
The mini-game I probably find most frustrating is cleaning-up the archaeological items you find. You have to use the backside touch of the Vita to rotate the item and the front touch controls to clean it. Sadly, the developers implemented a spherical model, which is quite difficult to control. I often find myself making random inputs on the backside touch controls after I lost control of the rotation. The cleaning gets even more frustrating because the texture size you have to clean with your finger movement is often a bit larger than the model shown on the screen, which leads to random cleaning moves on the front screen because the visualization says you’re already done.
In addition to the mini-games, some flawed controls can be also found in the main game. Balancing on a stem with the accerelometer or performing swipes on the touchscreen during close combat make me feel like playing one of the cheaper smartphone games with a lack of precision. This wouldn’t bother me that much if those were optional controls but sadly they’re the only way to interact with the game in this situation.
Still, Golden Abyss is a good game but I could have been much better without the mini-games and if the developers decided not to throw every potential way of interaction of the Vita into the game with no alternative input options.