By: Justin Hobley
Project Genom is a third-person sci-fi MMORPG currently in development by NeuronHaze. Set on the world Avalon after humanity wrecked their cradle of nascence, Earth, players set out to keep their toehold on this new world by defending humanity.
Shake off your cryo-sleep, soldier, and let’s move.
Controls are relatively typical when compared to any first- or third-person shooter played on PC, with WSAD on the keyboard mapped to movement, weapons holstering mapped to Q and reload mapped to R, where it would make sense on an US English keyboard.
I was not successful in getting into a configuration screen to rebind keys or view the bindings to see what else was there for my use. Each attempt simply did not load the menu when clicked.
The combat system is designed to require manual targeting on anything that the player wishes to attack, but a lack of aiming down sights makes the controls feel sloppy and irritating when attempting to kill creatures.
Visually, Project Genom looks rather nice up close, with good attention to detail on many of the in-game objects that I had encountered during my time. Monsters offered a fair range of motion. Rarely did I spot a monster just gliding across the surfaces, when it could waddle or run instead.
Greater detail is paid to the audio, including radio chatter when you’re wandering around the base area, and it adds depth to the world that Project Genom is portraying.
Music only plays in appropriate areas, so in the base, if you were near the restaurant or nightclub, you’d receive a dose of music, but once you’re out to kill things, your background noise switches to ambient sounds and the symphony of noises the creatures make.
You wake up, cold, nearly naked, and wet on a new world to klaxons blaring to amuse you and a few dead bodies. A detached voice urges you forward to find a weapon to blow a remotely locked doorway’s hydraulics so you can work your way to safety.
The start sounds good, but the moment you pick up the pistol, the agitation begins. Getting a tighter focus on the shots with your pistol is seemingly impossible, coupled with wildly inaccurate shots – a poorly focused cone of fire makes it harder to complete tasks that require accuracy. This issue plagues you as you continue, making it past the doors and eventually encountering humans.
There was a lot of busy work that was presented around nearly every turn, with someone handing you a quest every minute or so. It’s rare for me to say this, but the early quests, combined with little information given for each one was frustrating, and it made the beginning of Project Genom feel boring and grind-y. I felt that I spent more time running in circles trying to complete quests than I did immersing myself in the world.
One thing that I did like about the weapon system is the added realism in reloading: Project Genom actively punishes frequent reloaders that do not empty the clip by wasting every remaining bullet in the disposed clip. This encourages less of the three-shot, reload behavior that other shooters encourage (or at least doesn’t discourage).
Leveling felt slow as I tried to play through, but combining the poor cone of fire for several weapons with the frequent quests that order you to find something, kill something else, and return with an object rapidly frustrated me as a player.
I found myself starting a new character as I played, because I would manage to find a soft spot in the world, so to speak: I’d fall into a hole that had no way out. With no other players responding in chat, I was never able to locate a command that would allow me to become unstuck, necessitating the re-roll, and grinding my way back up.
Recent changes to Project Genom removed loading screens for traversing areas, in an attempt to go open world. As it is early in that change-over, it’s safe to say that time is needed to polish those changes.
It’s honestly too early to tell where Project Genom is going to go over the next several months as the world develops and flexes around the ideas that NeuronHaze is bringing to the table. With what’s available now, the need for more work is apparent, and it’s hopefully on its way.