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Flashback 2 Review – Starts great, but wait and see

Flashback 2 is a sequel to the 1992 original game and is developed by Microids Studio Paris and original creator Paul Cuisset. The game released on November 17, 2023, on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S and I went in fresh not having played the first game. I have it in my GOG library from a while back but never gave it a try, so I dove in where you play again as Conrad B. Hart, the young agent of the GBI (Galactic Bureau of Investigation). My first play session was a lot of fun, and I was getting right into the aesthetic and 2.5D gameplay, but it went downhill from my second play session unfortunately.

It’s the 22nd century, the peace of the United Worlds extends throughout the Solar System, but this tranquility is threatened by the Morph invasion led by the fearsome General Lazarus. In search of his lifelong friend, Ian, and with the help of his few allies including A.I.S.H.A., his iconic AI-powered weapon, Conrad once again dives into a heart-pounding adventure full of twists, turns and revelations.

My first couple of hours in Flashback 2 were great fun. I love the cyberpunk setting and the 2.5D gameplay reminded me of playing Shadow Complex on the Xbox 360 in 2009. You have a side-scrolling view where you can also explore the depth of a scene, and new rooms will reveal themselves as you drop down a ledge or move into the next area. Conrad has a pistol that he can use to shoot enemies, and you aim using the mouse. I did find aiming was tricky when the monsters came close.

Firstly, and most often, Conrad will start to kick and punch in melee range rather than shoot. Secondly, shooting from range really depended on having Conrad facing the enemy directly. It took a bit of getting used to but the thing that helped me was ensuring that I could see the red targeting reticle on an enemy before shooting. If I didn’t, I would often be shooting wildly and mostly into the rear wall of the scene. It’s clunky but I did get used to it.

There was an open section after you complete the first stage of the game and after certain things happen, you are swarmed by security guards. They kept coming and I eventually got overwhelmed and died. I clicked respawn and when I was placed back into the game, I found myself in the middle of a circle of the respawned enemies, which is not where I died. As such I was quickly overwhelmed and died again. I had to leapfrog myself to the left of the scene so that when I respawned, I only had to deal with a couple of enemies that I quickly dispatched and then dodged away from the main circle. Again, pretty clunky.

I needed to use a motorbike to get to the next area, however this cost money and so I had to do some missions first. These are collected from mission terminals and the objectives start off close in the near vicinity. Once I completed three missions I had enough to buy a bike and was able to move to the next area. When on a motorbike, it switches to riding the bike along a futuristic road where you need to dodge cars because our bike is way faster than anything else on the road. A tooltip said to press Z to accelerate, but W accelerated. Then it said to press J to brake, but S did that. The graphics of this driving sequence in Flashback 2 was hit and miss with some road textures popping in and out at distance.

I proceeded to follow story missions in Flashback 2 until I could afford to buy a mech and enter a mech fight. I failed the first fight as I thought I was blocking but I still got hit, and I tried doing heavy attacks, but they were just light attacks. Frustrated, I logged off for the night to try again the next day. When I loaded up the game again, I found I was placed back about an hour of gameplay back to where I had to rescue a girl called Amy. Disappointed with losing gameplay, I played through this area again until I cleared it. The next step required me to ride an elevator up to Amy’s room. I clicked to call the elevator as it was on the level above me – nothing. I clicked call elevator again, nothing.

After furiously clicking the call elevator button again, I decided to reload the game and do that whole sequence again thinking it may have glitched out. Turns out it did the same thing where it won’t call the elevator. I worked out how to backtrack to the start of this mission and there is a locked room before Amy’s room that requires a keycard to access, but we must get that from Amy’s room, so my progress was essentially halted. I looked at my other save files and I would need to go back even further which I wasn’t prepared to do.

This is such a shame because that first play session, I had a lot of fun and found the story intriguing. The 2.5D side scrolling gameplay, while a little clunky in parts, was still fun and reminded me of playing Shadow Complex. There are sections of the game where the explorable area opens that are highly detailed and feel lived in. The visuals of the game are great, though the driving sequence was of notably lesser quality and had texture popping issues in one section.

Overall, Flashback 2 could be an awesome sequel, and it certainly has moments where the visuals are fantastic and gameplay fun and engaging. It is just let down by clucky combat and I lost game progress, which then bugged out and totally halted my progress. If these bugs can be sorted then I could happily recommend the game, but for now it is a wait and see.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by Plaion ANZ and Flashback 2 is available now on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S.


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