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iPhone  header logo

Xenome, Episode 1

For: iPhone

Loose-fitting genes

Product: Xenome, Episode 1 | Publisher: Fluid Software | Developer: Nine Pound Studios | Format: iPhone | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: US | App version: 1.0.6790
Xenome, Episode 1 iPhone, thumbnail 1
Genetics have a hand in passing down traits from our parents, but there's plenty of wiggle room - it's ultimately up to you to define yourself and become a unique individual.

It's clear that Fallout fathered the post-apocalyptic world of Xenome, Episode 1, and while there's nothing wrong with inspiration, it's difficult to see the distinction between parent and progeny.

Instead of striking out on its own, Xenome combines a familiar setting with borrowed conventions. As enjoyable as it can be, this is a game that relies too much on its inheritance and not enough on fresh ideas.

International man of mystery

To be fair, the story is intriguing. Awakened from a long cryostasis, you find Earth transformed from a lush green paradise to a sandy wasteland. Mutated animals roam the blistering deserts, bands of mutants compete for resources with the surviving humans, and the remnants of civilisation can be seen half-submerged in the soil.

Why you've emerged from your cryogenic pod and who you are is a mystery. Of course, solving it means taking on quests from shady characters who want you to bring about the deaths of their rivals.

So without any indication of who's who in this dilapidated world, you traipse across the wasteland as a sort of masked bounty hunter taking on missions for whoever can provide you with answers.

Discovering how Earth came to be such a dump and the story behind each of the factions vying for control over its dwindling resources is enough to push you through the disappointingly bland gameplay, but Xenome squanders its phenomenal setting and pretty graphics on exceedingly repetitive gameplay.

Post-apocalyptic monster hunter

Missions routinely require killing a set number of creatures and rarely provide you with unique objectives. The lack of creativity is stunning. For all the care taken with story and expansive open world setting, Xenome features surprisingly lazy design.

Plot points are relayed via conversations rather than playing out as missions: instead, you're usually asked to hunt down creatures as a requirement to chat to characters that then forward the story through blocks of text.

There are performance issues as well. Only iPhone 4 seems to handle the game well from a technical standpoint, whereas iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod touch devices chug.

Playing on an iPhone 4 has its problems, though. The controls are finickier with multiple taps required to execute actions, presumably due to the higher resolution screen affecting the sensitivity of virtual buttons.

The right stuff

But there's something about Xenome that compels you to keep playing despite its repetitive nature. The desire to uncover the backstory together with solid character customisation features keep you hooked.

Genetic material seized from fallen foes - mutated Nukers, evolved cacti, genetically enhanced humans, and others - enables you to augment yourself with cool abilities such as electric attacks, improved health regeneration, and more. Loads of equipment encourages you to engage with the economy, pillaging enemies for goods and selling them for cash with which to buy top-shelf arms.

As a role-playing game, Xenome has the right depth of customisation. Successive episodes must build out compelling mission objectives to complement this depth, otherwise the strength of its role-playing will once again be overshadowed by repetitive action.

Xenome has good genes. It just needs a creative kick in the pants to become fully entertaining.
Xenome, Episode 1
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 12 July 2010
Despite repetitive missions and performance issues, Xenome, Episode 1 has the right stuff when it comes to role-playing
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