As suspicious as it is absolutely horrible. It’s got nothing to do with Liam Neeson.
Developer: Math Nerd Productions
Publisher: Math Nerd Productions
Released: July 7, 2015
Copy supplied by Steam
There’s something shady about TAKEN, to say the least. On its face, this alleged horror game is little more than a pathetic attempt at aping creepypasta freeware games, inexplicably finding its way to the Steam marketplace. The fact Math Nerd Productions wants cash for something normally downloaded for bugger-all on Newgrounds is already suspect, but the history of the game itself is something even more puzzling.
Taken is the result of a Kickstarter campaign – a campaign that was rebooted following the desperate failure of an initial attempt. After proving unable to raise the $9,000 allegedly needed for the completion of this project, Math Nerd went back to the drawing board and relaunched it with a humbler goal of $3,000. The game succeeded in achieving that third of its originally declared budget, but even this success was fishy – most of the money came from a single pledge on the very last day, a much-needed $1,300 contribution sneaking in at the eleventh hour.
The Kickstarter’s promised local multiplayer, incidentally, never made it into the game, while the only two positive reviews for it on Steam come from friends of the developers.
I hesitate to use the word “scam” when talking about crowdfunded games, as it’s a word used far too liberally. However, nothing about TAKEN is on the up-and-up, and it doesn’t help that the product itself is absolute garbage.
As I already said, this is the kind of worthless first-person horror game you can find on dozens of free download sites around the Web. Made up of three horribly designed mazes, you’ve got to find a key and return to the starting area while being “chased” by a frozen character model of a little girl. In a straight copy of Containment Breach, this girl only “moves” when you’re not looking at her, though if you’re quick you’ll get to catch her sliding comically through solid walls. It’s quite, quite pitiful.
I completed my first run of Taken in less than six minutes without even trying. I wandered at an excruciatingly slow pace through a hedge maze, walked through a skull, found a key in a magic bedroom, and strolled back to the start, only to see the credits roll. That was it. Scare chords kept trying to make me jump throughout, but I didn’t even see the girl – apparently named Lucy – chasing me on my first attempt.
I only found her on a second run, because this thing supposedly seeking you out is inept and has to be searched for by the player if they want to have any idea what the threat’s meant to be.
One maze is full of snow and the other is a series of long, boring, brown corridors. They are at least easier on the eyes than the first maze, riddled as it is with headache-inducing rain effects that dribble down in semen-like ropes and make the entire screen unpleasant to look at. This rain, incidentally, causes the entire game to lag at a miserable framerate, only furthering the discomfort one feels while playing.
These mazes exist without context, they’re simply mazes for a mazes’ sake, because a series of narrow corridors is simply easier than designing a real environment.
You can drop flares to guide your way back to the start, but they don’t really help – the pathways are all so nondescript, barren, and full of aggravating dead-ends that there’s little point in using the breadcrumbs. You never know if the long empty hallway you’re walking down leads anywhere, so why waste a flare?
There is simply nothing here. Not even a hint of substance. At least Dear Esther had a narrative running through it. This is just another attempt at an SCP-like game without the backstory or atmosphere. A game of walking for the sake of walking, with a pursuer so inept that you actually have to try to fail. Even trying the game’s so-called “brutal” difficulty level, I needed to actively turn around and walk into Lucy myself in order to lose.
Depending on how lucky you are, you’ll have one of two experiences with TAKEN – you’ll either find the key and exit immediately, thus watching the credits within five minutes, or you’ll get stuck wandering around a lazily cobbled together maze for ages until you give up, sickened by the featureless walls and wasteland of an environment. Either way, you’ll have wasted your time and – unless you take the highly recommended refund option – your money.
That Math Nerd Productions has the sheer gall to expect $9.99 for this is unbelievable. That it cost anywhere close to $3,000 – as low as that price seems – is doubtful. That it deserves anybody’s attention is simply untrue. The only worthwhile thing to say about TAKEN is that its name is quite meaningful indeed – it’s taken peoples’ money, and it’s done nothing to earn it.
Oh, and the “scary” little girl looks shit.