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Review

Born Punk Review

Born to be cyberpunk

Given its age, it’s no surprise that the point-and-click genre played a key part in the formative video game years for a lot of developers, even influencing their own creations. Born Punk is the spawn of Insert Disk 22’s founder Falko von Falkner’s lifetime love of adventure games and is the debut game from the Melbourne-based studio. It’s a game that is inspired by some of the genre’s most revered titles, and while it’s quite traditional, which sometimes works against it, it does have enough character to stand on its own feet.

Born Punk is set in 2155 in the fictional Danish city of Bornholm, where three characters, a corporate CEO named Mariposa, a former combat hacker named Eevi, and an android named Grandmaster Flashdrive have had their bodies commandeered by an unknown entity. The characters must allow the entities to use their bodies as vessels to complete a mission, which once accomplished will free them, or so they’re led to believe.

Sporting tidy pixel art backdrops, the world of Bornholm is not overdone or dripping with neon, instead it’s rather grim for a cyberpunk city, staying true to its European influence. Each scene is usually simple by design, such as a city street, a sewer or a high-end restaurant, but there is always something going on in the background (mostly an animal of sorts) to keep them feeling alive.

The Born Punk cast

Born Punk has a mountain of dialogue, and for the most part the writing and voice acting is fairly solid. It’s not the usual take on cyberpunk but it provided some good laughs and throwbacks, one in particular I enjoyed was regarding music piracy. The story is interesting enough to make you want to see the ending (which depending on the ending you get can leave you with more questions than answers), but the highlight of the narrative is the characters.

Each of the three main characters is vastly different from one another, and it makes for a fun dynamic. Mariposa, the CEO of Mitsotomo, the largest corporation in Born Punk’s world, is headstrong and smart, while Eevi is tech-savvy but a little reckless and a booze hound. However, Grandmaster Flashdrive is an android surviving day-to-day suffering from a loose wire or two, as he often switches between a wannabe hip-hop gangster and a sophisticated gentleman. There are a few cringy moments, but for the most part he’s quite compelling. It’s clear that each character has had a lot of love go into their development, however there are times when certain elements could have been more fleshed out or expanded on to give players a deeper sense of who these characters are.

If you’ve ever played a point-and-click game you’ll know exactly what to expect. Players will need to observe and interact with characters and items in the world to move the narrative forward. Interacting with an item will let you know if that item is important while observing an item will tell you what an item is. If you wish to know which items can be interacted with, simply hold down the left mouse button and it will highlight all objects in an area. Some items will have use while others are merely set dressing.

If kebabs and birds aren’t worth dying for what is?

Puzzles are a key part of any point-and-click adventure, and over time the balance between obscure and logical puzzles has tipped in favour of the latter. Despite its traditional foundations, Born Punk’s puzzles are relatively logical and conversations or observing items will usually provide the hints you need. However, that’s not to say there aren’t a few head-scratchers, and with no hint system, there may be a few times where you find yourself with no clue on how to proceed. I won’t lie, there were one or two puzzles that had me stumped for an extended period, and in one case I only solved it by stumbling upon the solution.

In some cases there are multiple ways to solve a puzzle, and how you go about solving it can impact events or dialogue later in the game. One example is right at the start of the game where Eevi requires a security code, and players can either solve the code puzzle or simply hack the panel, hacking the panel as I did will open dialogue options with the barkeep, Klump. How deep these paths run I’m not sure, but it’s always nice to have multiple avenues to approach objectives.

Where things get a little frustrating is when the game requires certain events to occur before items become of use. For example, late in the game it’s apparent that an apple is of importance, however the player cannot pick up the apple until the story requires them to do so, which means backtracking between areas.

Towards the end, Born Punk does start to spin its tires with what feels like endless backtracking between several locations for the sake of it. It’s not the first adventure game to suffer such an issue and it won’t be the last, but it does start to zap the fun out of it after 10+ hours.

The backdrops are simple but detailed

Final Thoughts

Long-time fans of the point-and-click adventure genre will find a lot to like in the 10–12 hours it takes to roll credits in Born Punk, while newcomers or casual players will also find plenty of enjoyment. It’s got a lot of heart, a cast of characters that is enjoyable to play, and generally forgiving puzzles. It does stumble with its pacing towards the end due to its influences, but as a debut game, Insert Disk 22 has laid some solid foundations for its next adventure.

Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher

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Born Punk Review
Point-And-Cyberpunk
Born Punk is a solid point-and-click adventure whose overly faithful homage to the classics slightly hinders its enjoyment.
The Good
The three main characters are all enjoyable to play
Bornholm is a unique cyberpunk setting
The majority of the puzzles are well balanced and logical
The story is interesting and has a neat twist at the end
The Bad
Backtracking towards the end of the game can feel tedious
A couple of puzzles border on painful obscurity
Some character threads could have been explored more
7
Good
  • Insert Disk 22
  • Insert Disk 22
  • PC / Mac / Linux
  • June 18, 2022

Born Punk Review
Point-And-Cyberpunk
Born Punk is a solid point-and-click adventure whose overly faithful homage to the classics slightly hinders its enjoyment.
The Good
The three main characters are all enjoyable to play
Bornholm is a unique cyberpunk setting
The majority of the puzzles are well balanced and logical
The story is interesting and has a neat twist at the end
The Bad
Backtracking towards the end of the game can feel tedious
A couple of puzzles border on painful obscurity
Some character threads could have been explored more
7
Good
Written By

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

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