The first game from Xbox Live’s 2012 House Party collection arrived with a flash and took gamers for a ride they weren’t expecting. Developed by Trapdoor and published by EA Partners, Warp is a fun little indie action puzzler in the spirit of Valve’s legendary Portal series albeit with an infinitely smaller budget and less personality. Characters play the role of Zero, a little jellybean-esque alien trapped in a scientific research facility longing for freedom and aided by a telepathic little microbe. As the game progresses Zero slowly begins earning back his powers, including the titular warping ability, increasing his stealth and movement speed, and learning what is essentially astral projection.

Zero’s ability to warp across small distances into open spaces or objects of similar mass… including people… is where the game’s morbid sense of fun begins converting into an intricate puzzle element. Your otherwise defenseless alien is able to warp in an out of scientists and soldiers before vibrating in their bodies and causing their guts to ‘splode all over the place, or into conveniently placed explosive canisters if you just want to knock them out for a little bit. For an even better thrill, I recommend warping into soldiers and warping out right before friendly fire strikes you and your host body to the ground. This game of chicken isn’t to be taken lightly though, as Zero is a rather frail little guy who only takes one hit from a laser to go down.

The flaws in Warp quickly become apparent, even in the first of the game’s areas, as a less than crisply responsive control scheme adds to the frustration of blatant trial-and-error gameplay. I would love to say that Warp was an absolute thrill through each session, but the truth is that frustration caused me to walk away for a few minutes before returning to what I had deemed an impossible task just moments before.  With a fresh outlook, I took to Warp and was rewarded with a thoroughly satisfying experience after getting past the initial curve.

With that in mind, gamers should play Warp with a grain of salt. The puzzling aspects are a welcome challenge though the one-hit kills and lack of decent abilities from the onset can be frustrating. There are plenty of checkpoints strewn about the game, but you’ll find yourself respawning with a mandatory load screen repeatedly if you do not take the time to examine your environment and take your powers into account before warping right into danger. If you adapt and adjust then you’ll adore the game you’re in for, and Warp will have you playing well into the night. Warp is available now on Xbox Live for 800 Microsoft Points, and will be available on March 13, 2012 on the PlayStation Network.

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