With its eerie green lighting and art nouveau style, Albert Innovation looks like a brutalist cartoon Bioshock, and like Bioshock, a mysterious, disembodied voice bristling with dark purpose guides you. “The exit is close my friend!” croons “Xavier” in French, over the crackle and hiss of electrics.
As a fan of mysteries, the premise of Albert Innovation is a delightful one. You are offered a job at the illustrious titular firm, only to find on arrival that the building is abandoned. You trawl around grey shelves and maze-like corridors, listening to strange recordings left on machines by former employees. Meanwhile, someone, or something, skitters around the vents and floors, doors left open.
While some rooms thrum pleasantly beside chirpy “employee of the year” badges, others are in utter disarray. Makeshift barricades and furniture torn apart litter the surroundings. You begin to wonder – as any dread-infused human would – what really happened here?
I won’t go further into any more details, lest the experience is ruined for you, abandoned employee. Let’s just say Albert Innovation ends on a rather delicious twist. Mechanically, I enjoyed using the infernal machinery scattered around, picking up howling frequencies with sound signal readers and of course, the chipper yet oh-so-menacing voice that haunts you over the intercoms.
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The upcoming Steam version brings pixel art graphics, some of which are drawn from tile set mod packs created by the Dwarf Fortress community, in addition to brand new pixel art. The Steam edition will also include a 15-track soundtrack and even adds some tracks in the Dwarvish language. There will also be an in-depth tutorial, a feature that was only added fairly recently to the original free Dwarf Fortress.
And while its cartoon visuals and horror puzzle mechanics certainly take influence from Bendy and the Ink Machine, the unsettling melancholy and unique atmosphere of Albert Innovation had me hooked. I’m very curious to see where the story heads, and also eager to explore more of its crooked corridors in what looks set to be a curious tale of hubris and madness.
We played through the first episode, which is available for free on Steam and serves as a demo of the game. However, its developer Delirium Den announced recently on Steam that the full Albert Innovation game will not follow an episodic format.
The developer also expects the finished game to take more than a year and a half to make and has not yet announced a release date.