By Shamus Posted Monday Jul 22, 2013

Filed under: Game Reviews 90 comments

This game is not remotely fair. The constraints under which it was developed were unfair, and that unfairness is passed along to the player in the form of brutally unforgiving and occasionally impossible gameplay. The game isn’t mean or sadistic. It’s just indifferent.

Receiver was developed as part of a challenge to make an FPS in just seven days. For reference, that’s like trying to teach yourself Portuguese over your lunchbreak. Whatever faults the game might have, I have to give it credit for rising to an absurd and arbitrary challenge.

FPS games are routinely the most ambitious and expensive titles produced by the industry. The first-person view means the camera will be close to the scenery, which necessitates lots of detail. The genre is both insanely popular and deeply entrenched, meaning gameplay needs to be carefully designed and meticulously polished to even have a chance at standing out from the crowd. The violence creates a desire for context, which leads to cutscenes, which leads to outrageously expensive motion capture and model design, along with professional voice acting. Too much constant shooting gets to be numbing and monotonous, so you break up the firefights with set-piece stunts, moments of visual spectacle, and diverting vehicle sections that basically end up being a mechanically distinct game. (Which must also be carefully tested and balanced.)


The point is, these things normally cost money to produce and asking someone to make one in just seven days is completely unreasonable. Projects like Receiver must therefore strip the genre down to its bare elements to even have a prayer at making something playable in the given timeframe. In Receiver the story is nothing more than a series of mysterious audio logs. The environments are stark, simple, and procedurally generated. The gameplay is focused on two simple enemies.

The gimmick here is that the guns aren’t just visually modeled after real-world firearms. These guns are little mechanical simulations, complete with all the moving parts and complexities. Don’t hop in here thinking you’re going to Call of Duty your way to victory. After a few minutes with Receiver, the idea of tapping the R key to reload a firearm will seem as ludicrous as a driving game where your only input is the throttle. If you’re used to reloading your weapon every couple of shots just to make sure you’re always full, then this game will very quickly make it clear why people don’t do this in real life.

In Receiver, you’ve got a button to eject the current magazine, a button to put the firearm away so you’re now holding just the magazine because this is a two-handed job, another button to insert rounds into the mag one at a time, another button to retrieve the weapon, another to insert the mag, and another to release the slide lock. If you want to know how many shots you’ve got left and you’ve been forgetting to keep track, then you pull the mag and count them up.

Halp! No moar boolits!
Halp! No moar boolits!

You don’t get a magical floating crosshair telling you where bullets will end up when you pull the trigger. If you don’t want to eyeball it then you need to look down the sights and experience the annoyance of aiming a weapon that’s blocking your view of the thing you’re trying to aim at. Thank goodness your body is invisible in this game, since I’d hate to have my hands blocking my view of the weapon itself. (This might be the first FPS in over a decade where you don’t play as a white dude, but only because you don’t have a voice or body.)

The idea is that you’re running around in darkened building at night, surrounded by stationary turrets and flying killbots. Your foes don’t have hit point bars. They are machines, and you must break them by putting bullets into the working parts. You can disable individual systems of these devices, leaving them in a partially working state, or you can waste precious bullets uselessly plinking away at their structural bits, which is like trying to cripple a car by shooting the roof full of holes. Combat is incredibly abrupt and deadly. You die if you get hit, and engagements usually don’t last more than a couple of seconds. Assuming you want your game to last more than a minute, you’ll need to be extremely cautious and paranoid.

To give you an idea of how detailed this is: The airborne robots are about the size of a toaster. They’re basically a flying taser. At one point I found myself stuck in a narrow hallway, panic-firing at a flier like I normally do in this game. It bumped into me and I stopped, expecting that was game over. But nothing happened. It flew around in a circle and bumped into me again. I’d blown off the deadly shocky bits and it was now a flying toy. Then I had to decide if I wanted to waste more bullets on it, or if I wanted to continue on with this thing buzzing around my head.


Is it a good game? It depends. Are you the sort of person who looks at the challenge of Nethack or Dwarf Fortress and sees a mountain that must be conquered? Then this game will be happy to present you with a cruel, uncaring slope on which to dash yourself again and again. If you’re concerned with things like “fairness”, or see “difficulty spikes” as a shortcoming, then this game is exists to offend you. This would be a hard game even if you had infinite bullets, and here you are positively starved for bullets.

You need to collect eleven cassette tapes to win the game. (I assume. I never got more than three.) They’re spread around, and you’re going to have to deal with many turrets in the process of rounding them all up.

We’ve got two things in play here: On one side we have unforgiving mechanics and on the other we have random environments. Some games you’ll spawn with a full weapon plus a couple of extra magazines, and find yourself in a room with more bullets and a free tape. In another game you’ll find yourself starting with a half-empty weapon and the next room will be decorated like someone shopped at IKEA during a “buy one, get two free” sale on killer turrets.


To a certain extent it’s survival horror without the horror. The environments are bristling with danger, and the random layouts mean you never know what you’ll find in the next room.

Receiver is very much an experimental game. You might spend a good number of hours working to beat it, but you’ll have seen everything it has to offer within the first twenty minutes. It’s not fair, it’s not reasonable, but it’s worth a look if you’re curious about firearms as mechanical devices and see them as more than just a crude tool for unlocking cutscenes.


From The Archives:

90 thoughts on “Receiver

  1. Jimbob says:

    I played this a while ago, all the time thinking “man, I really wish this was a survival horror game”. It was a tenser experience than anything the Silent Hill or Resident Evil serieses have provided in the last decade.

    Ooh, or a realistic policing game. Imagine if LA Noire had this level of realism for it’s shooty bits rather than the immersion-wrecking tonal-dissonance-inducing Gears of War mechanics it went with.

    1. Indy says:

      Complete with filling out “Firearm Discharge Reports”. Imagine how much less likely a player would be to shoot at someone if it added even just a couple of minutes of paperwork to their play session.

      1. Henson says:

        I frickin’ love this idea.

      2. Interesting idea, but the specifics of implementation make it tricky – if the paperwork takes too long to do (and actually requires some effort), then you’re likely to make lots of players just quit then and there.
        If you make it gamified and fun, then you’ve ruined the point – it instead becomes a reward for shooting people. If you make it just a single button press or something, then it’s just going to be like another pointless quick-time event that adds nothing.
        It’s very difficult to actually get a “punishing the player with mundane chores” idea to work.

        1. Ravens Cry says:

          The original Police Quest games were like this, but what do you expect from the people at Sierra?

        2. Chuck Henebry says:

          What if the form were pre-filled with the time of shooting and ID of the person shot, and the player were left with just the task of writing a short explanation/justification for the shooting? The game would accept any text in this input box, short or long, honest or snarky, and at the end of the game you’d get a .pdf report detailing all your kills, personalized with your comment/justifications, that you could share with your friends.

          Or, better, a YouTube-ready video of each kill with your comment/justification for each one running as a subtitle below.

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            I think, as long as we’re going for a mechanically focused detailed simulation, the FDR should be pre-filled out by your character. Then you get to check it for errors, like in “Papers Please”. If you’ve been short on sleep, there will be more errors to find. And of course, you can always falsify the details if you think no one will notice.

            Imagine trying to balance the drawbacks of just going to bed and getting chewed out for submitting paperwork late, versus drinking another cup of coffee and doing it all now, with the knowledge that you’re going to have to double-check your work because you’ve been up for twenty nine hours and are in the middle of an adrenaline crash from the firefight.

            1. postinternetsyndrome says:

              Sounds awesome.

            2. tzeneth says:

              Quick someone who knows about game making. DO THIS!

              1. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

                OK -I’m in favor. But then the game needs to be built such that the paperwork isn’t a real chore. The problem with L.A. Noire is that Cole Phelps has slaughtered a small army of criminals by the end of the game -and in those segments, he has to kill them to advance the plot. Adding paperwork to those segments doesn’t improve them. They’d have to be completely reworked.

                Police Quest got away with it because, at the end of the day, you only drew your gun 3 times, and only discharged it once.

                1. silver Harloe says:

                  Right, but he’s not suggesting “put this mechanic in LA Noire as it stands,” he’s suggesting: “wouldn’t it be great if you had a police game with options to avoid combat, and a paperwork if you get into combat, thus encouraging you to do things right without forcing you.”

                  1. Ravens Cry says:

                    There definitely should always be a way out that isn’t violence though that is just as engaging, if not more so, than the shooting. Otherwise, and I hate a game that does this, it feels like ‘That fun thing you did that you had no choice to do in order to advance the game? That was baaaaad.’

          2. NCarlson says:

            I’d think that that youtube version of it would be the right approach. Frame it as a multiple choice dialogue like exercise in which you attempt to justify the shooting, and which directly affects the outcome of the investigation. Might be more productive to frame it more in terms of being interrogated by internal affairs than as paperwork though.

            1. Syal says:

              With the ever-present option to shoot your way out of the interrogation.

              1. Paul Spooner says:

                Yeah, I can see it now.

                Inspector: “… I’m just not seeing your justification here.”
                Draws gun.
                Inserts clip.
                Aims at inspector.
                Removes safety.
                Pulls trigger.
                (Forgot to chamber round and load the strike pin.)
                Inspector: “I’ll assume you’ll be pleading guilty to gross incompetence then.”

  2. Indy says:

    It’s a bit strange how I find that sort of ‘cheap’ aesthetic (mainly the models and the textures) actually appealing. There can be beauty in simplicity. Take that HD-ultrabrown Triple-A developers!

    1. Indy says:

      Shamus, I have to ask, how much use are you getting out of the “Toggle Safety” button? Are you glad that that feature is in the game or do you feel it could be trimmed without really affecting the experience?

      1. rofltehcat says:

        What exactly is the button good for, anyways?
        Do you sometimes misfire when jumping/getting hit/running fast/turning around fast when the safety is not set?

        Do you know Gunpoint? In the game you can use the gun to just threaten guards instead of just shooting them.
        If there were something like that in the game a safety would be pretty useful to prevent misfires.

        1. Klay F. says:

          Shamus said that this game is for you if you are interested in firearms as mechanical devices.

          If you are like me, and actually know a decent bit about pistols, you will have the safety on any time you aren’t actively shooting as a matter of pure habit.

          That being said, as detailed as the mechanics are in this game, its still not as detailed as I’d like. Though it gets to a point where you’ll run out of fingers or dexterity if you have to press TOO many buttons.

          1. postinternetsyndrome says:

            Maybe some actions that can’t physically be performed at the same time could share buttons?

            1. rofltehcat says:

              Or by mouse? Some of the non-combat centric functions could be done by simple point + click. Same for reloading magazines etc.

  3. Ygor says:

    They made a video here that showcases the design principles and thoughts they wanted to bring forth in the game, and I must say, they really conveyed the suspense and feeling of loneliness. Those barebones aesthetics helped a lot with it, as did the soundtrack.

    I was really surprised that they managed to release to a pretty good working state just after the seven days.

  4. I’ve always wanted to get this, but I have a terrible habit of not buying games I actually want.

  5. Humanoid says:

    Now to combine this game’s mechanics with Surgeon Simulator for the true manual experience.

    1. The Nick says:

      A game about shooting people… then rapidly rushing to them to try and keep them alive, as the best surgery practice requires a living test subject.

    2. Irridium says:

      And afterwords you have to clean up the mess with Viscera Cleanup Detail

      1. rofltehcat says:

        But only after you’ve fumbled every single bullet manually into your magazine with the controls from surgeon simulator.

        1. swenson says:

          The thought of that is going to haunt my nightmares tonight.

        2. Syal says:

          A Detective Simulator would be awesome.

          1. “I grasped towards my coat pocket, my hand taking with it the open bag of evidence. The weapon, previously confined to the bag, flung itself towards my perky assistant. She screamed and jumped away, but I didn’t care.
            After meticulously placing the bag in my pocket, I reached up to my breast and withdrew a cardboard box. It fell to the floor through my numb fingers. Stretching downwards, I flung open the box’s lid and withdrew a cigar.
            After a few minutes, and a few burnt fingers, the cigar was lit. As I placed it in my mouth, I realised something – the cigar was backwards.”

            1. anaphysik says:

              Dynamic narration would be the best addition to “simulators,” EVER.

      2. postinternetsyndrome says:

        The devs of the three games should get together and release a collection with all three.

  6. Dragomok says:

    Receiver even has experimental story, too (dev spoilers ahead).

    1. anaphysik says:

      Sounds super-neat. I got this purely for the educational nature of it, but after hearing that it sounds like they should’ve toned the ‘unfairness’ /wayyyy/ down (because as it stands, I imagine that that effectively prevents most people from getting more than the briefest of glimpses at the story conceit).

  7. Humanoid says:

    That white triangle in the title image – I keep coming back and thinking it’s a video, despite knowing full well from the previous time I visited the page that it isn’t. I call troll.

  8. Cybron says:

    I remember hearing about this a while back. While I am the sort of must-conquer-the-mountain type you mentioned, I’m also awful at FPS games, so I gave it a pass. The design behind it looked pretty cool though.

    I do remember hearing that occasionally the random level generation generates an unbeatable level, which sounds unfortunate.

  9. klasbo says:

    Some gameplay for those who are interested

    On one hand this game showcases just how much unique gameplay is possible with procedural generation, but on the other hand it also shows just how much detail and “fairness” you have to give up. The only reason it works is because most of the gameplay is in the non-procedural content: the gun dynamics. So I feel like the whole procedural vs scripted debate comes down to if you prefer spectacle or replay value.

    1. Primogenitor says:

      I’m not sure that you have to give up any detail or “fairness” with procedural generation, if you do it right. Remember, this is on a tiny budget anyway so it shouldn’t be compared to AAA titles. I think Antichamber would be a fairer comparison in terms of first-person development time.

      1. harborpirate says:

        There are indeed ways to ensure procedural generation results in a more “fair” layout/outcome; but this is a double-edged sword. Removing difficult situations/scenarios can rob the player of improbable victories, of overcoming overwhelming odds to achieve success. By chopping off the lows, you can also unwittingly eliminate the highest highs.

        Still, tilting generation towards the skill level of the player is probably wise. Especially in the early going, percieved unfairness (to the point of cruel indifference) will be a deal breaker for many players. Procedural generated games need to find a way to keep “insanely hard mode” for those that are driven by challenge as well as throw newcomers a few slowballs to keep them engaged and allow them to gain those critical first few victories that fuel the desire to return.

        1. Shamus says:

          I agree with this pretty strongly. A lot of the problems with Receiver could be fixed with a little sanity-checking:

          * Starting equipment should be non-random. As it is now, the game creates a big incentive to keep holding down the reset key until you get a good starting state. That’s a boring thing to do, so the game shouldn’t encourage it.
          * I strongly feel that you should be able to loot bullets from turrets. It makes sense and would smooth out the worst spikes where the game just doesn’t give you enough bullets to accomplish anything.
          * Bullets and turrets should spawn at predictable ratio, not completely random. Say 1/3 rooms have foes and 1/4 have bullets, or something. Total randomness means that any game can hit a wall due to a few bad rolls. When making a new room it should look at what’s it’s already created and balance things accordingly. (This might be in the game. I don’t know for sure. But if it’s not, it should be.)

          1. Decius says:

            Why in the world would you go through all of the trouble to build a turret that size and load it with pistol ammo?

            1. Shamus says:

              Well, from a gameplay perspective it just solves a ton of problems and is easily hand-waved. (They’re just using what they had available.)

              From an in-game perspective it sounds like the turrets are some kinda extra-dimensional… projections? Made by observing humans? So you can justify them having whatever.

    2. Cuthalion says:

      Wow. That’s pretty sweet. I feel like I’d get too frustrated though before I got to the point where I had the controls down enough to feel awesome.

  10. Simon Buchan says:


    Steam says I have put 11 hours into it, but probably about a quarter of the time I’ve spent in the Humble store versions throwing myself onto turrets again and again and again and again…

    So a few things first off: It was created for the competion *called* “7 Day FPS”, but there (oddly) isn’t actually a 7 day requirement (it would be pretty hard to enforce, I guess). The initial version took 10 days, I think. Since then, there have been at least 6 updates, adding various features and bugfixes, including the revolver and auto-fire pistol (who’s names I always forget because the initial M1911-A1 is so incredibly good… I have dreams about loading and unloading this gun, racking the slide to check if there’s a round in the chamber…. Huh, there might be something wrong with me :P) So probably all up this would be closer to a month than 7 days at this point, if I were guessing.

    In the probably at least 40 hours I’ve played this, I’ve completed the game… once (I got insanely lucky on my third game into the steam version.) Its… interesting? I am so glad that I did get to the ending, though, because now I don’t feel the need to try to get the ending, I can just enjoy the shooting (and running away, don’t forget that part!)

    This game’s simulation-ism goes even further than just the guns or how the damage model works: there is a torch in this game that is probably the only torch in any video game that has a battery life measured in hours (4 I think? Someone looked at the code, which is all up on github! Bullets will ricochet and you can occasionally get lucky bounces. Or unlucky ones. The machine gun turrets have limited ammunition: it’s a valid (though dangerous!) tactic to “dance” for them to drain them dry if you are out of ammmo (or crazy). I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more to find, despite that!

    I’m so sad about the performance problems this game has, aparantly the level generation is quite expensive to do in Unity. The game has art direction problems as well (for obvious reasons) – the uneven lighting (completely missing in some areas, others are vertex lit(???)) and the omnipresent flat surfaces can make it a bit visually exhausting at best (though the “plot” actually has hand-wavey justification for it) And it would be nice if the level generation was more diverse: at the moment it just glues prefab 3-story buildings together in a row at random heights.

    All that said, my first sentence still stands :)

  11. Orillion says:

    “(This might be the first FPS in over a decade where you don't play as a white dude, but only because you don't have a voice or body.)”

    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare had the US Marine, Jackson, who was clearly black (you could see his skin under the gloves). Mirror’s Edge is technically an FPS (though I don’t think I’ve ever actually killed a person with a gun through two or three playthroughs) and Faith is an Asian woman. Just to offer a couple examples.

    1. Shamus says:

      Yeah, I should have said where *I* didn’t play as a white dude. It’s still true that we have too many white dudes, but “THERE ARE NO COUNTER-EXAMPLES!” is never* a safe claim to make.

      * Not really never. Just rarely.

      1. tzeneth says:

        4 years of philosophy has taught me that Absolutes are the easiest to disprove because all you need is one counter-example and then you’re All or No statements become false :(

        1. MichaelGC says:

          Every generalisation is always wrong apart from this one. :)

        2. CTrees says:

          Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

          1. That’s an awfully absolute statement for a supposed non-Sith to say.

            Also, those movies were and still are awful.

            1. StashAugustine says:

              The best bit is that it’s Palpatine who’s all “There is no right or wrong.”

          2. Michael says:

            Yeah, yeah… waitaminute. ONLY a Sith, you say?

            1. Fleaman says:

              That’s what the reaction to that statement should be. I like to imagine that at some point, a great and venerable Jedi master said that line (Obi-Wan was just parroting) to a student. The student was supposed to go “Wait, but isn’t that…?” and then there would have been an “and the student was enlightened” moment, but instead there was just an awkward silence and the student changed the subject to lightsabers.

      2. Blake says:

        You never played the Metroid Prime games?
        You’re really missing out there, they were/are beautiful.

      3. Michael says:

        The worst thing is, the immediate counter-example that I thought of (Unreal 2) is over a decade old now…

        Now I’m feeling old. :(

        1. Orillion says:

          Unreal Tournament 2004 isn’t quite yet a decade old, I don’t think. That one counts.

          1. Michael says:

            Dalton in Unreal II is black. He’s actually voiced by Michael Mack, the same guy that did the voice of Baurus in Oblivion. And, for an FPS in that era, he’s fairly chatty (both to himself and other characters).

            But, it was released in February 2003… so, just over a decade old now. :\

  12. Dreadjaws says:

    I just got this game, which I had voted for in Greenlight. I’m going to spend some time in it. I don’t know if you’re trying to discourage me from playing it, Shamus, but you’re only doing the opposite. Not that I am into “unforgiving” games, I just like new and realistic experiences in gaming.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      I don’t know Shamus from Adam but can guarantee he’s not trying to dissuade you from playing this game. Quite the opposite, I would guess. I’m not going to play it – but I find Football Manager 2013 a bit too hectic & fast-paced (I’m old…).

      But I’m glad other people will play it and do better than I ever could and then they’ll talk about it and that’ll all be awesome.

  13. postinternetsyndrome says:

    I read about this on RPS a couple of months ago. Checking out their site (which you should link Shamus!) I saw it’s on sale for pretty much no money at all so I grabbed it.

    I haven’t played it yet, but the concept is enormously appealing to me. This is exactly the sort of stuff survival horror and related genres (like the stalker and metro games) should do. You can have less enemies with less health without making the game too easy. Maybe a game like metro wouldn’t fare too well with this hardcore an approach, but the things like manually refilling mags and taking them out to see how many bullets you have left, while perhaps leaving out the more nitpicky simulation stuff, should probably work well.

    1. postinternetsyndrome says:

      Well, I’ve tried it out a bit now. It’s quite the thing. I like the controls. They sure are fiddly, but you get used to them after a while, though the t+r combo for checking if ther’s a bullet in the chamber hinders walking. Maybe intentional! Also, releasing t before r ejects the bullet, perhaps simulating that this is a possible risk irl too? Never handled an actual gun so I wouldn’t know.

      It sure is very unforgiving. I’m sort of frustrated by the turrets. The bots go down easily, give a signal that they’ve spotted you and need to get in close to kill. Sometimes the’ve just appeared from above or behind and given me no chance to react, but often you get a few seconds before they get to you. The turrets, not so much. Even if you’ve spotted them from a bit away, you have to get quite close to hit them reliably, leaving you open to the same. Don’t know how this could be remedied, stationary turrets never were an interesting enemy type to begin with.

      I’d like to be able to lean around corners. Guess there’s no keys left! :P

      What little I’ve gathered of the story so far has been reasonably interesting. There seems to be a meta-layer that makes the repeated deaths canon, but not sure about that. Not expecting anything mindblowing anyway – if I ever get to the end, hah.

      Having played one hour, I’d call it well worth it for the price.

  14. broken_research says:

    So, just as a curiosity: does anyone know sales numbers on this thing? Considering it was made in about a week (call it 3 weeks with post-competition polish) by 4 guys, I’d be interested what the return on such small projects would be…

  15. Scourge says:

    Procedural generated content. Huh. Sounds a lot like .krieger, which sorta did a similiar thing back in 2004. Minus the whole ‘survival and shoot things off from turrets and bots and stuff’. Still.. It only 96kb big(!) and.. looks pretty damn sweet actually. And plays quite well too.

    1. Michael says:

      Krieger did everything by having the system render it on site. There weren’t any textures, just fractals to generate them. The levels were actually generated the same way, preset mathematical formulas that the system cooked in real time.

      Honestly, Krieger was a really neat experiment, but it wasn’t randomly generated, just procedurally.

      Usually, when we’re talking about procedurally generated stuff, what we’re talking about is, “we fed some math into a random number generator and it spat this stuff out,” sometimes with a side of, “we can do this whenever you start a new game, so you get ‘a new experience’ each time.”

      Krieger was the rare, procedurally generated game, where there was no random element. It would render the exact same world every time, the procedure was in generating the textures, models, and maps, without having to use actual assets to do it.

      1. postinternetsyndrome says:

        Didn’t Elite or Elite II do the same thing?

        1. Michael says:

          My understanding was that Elite did actually have a randomization element, but my experience with the genre started with Escape Velocity, so I’ve never actually played the original Elite games. (Shrugs)

        2. Michael says:

          Weird… I think my comment got eaten…

          Anyway, I never actually played Elite, but I think that one had a randomly generated element, rather than cooking everything on the fly.

          Thing is, Krieger stressed modern systems (in 2004). Generating everything procedurally is hideously processor intensive. So, the real advantage to it was the ridiculously small file size.

          That said, the closest I got to Elite was the old Escape Velocity games, and I would love to see a modern update of either of those franchises.

  16. Nick Pitino says:

    As someone who owns* and shoots guns on a semi regular basis it tickles me pink to see a game that actually models their function somewhat accurately, much in the same way that Kerbal Space Program amuses the inner space geek to no end with its proper Newtonian physics.

    Where it would be interesting to see these sorts of mechanics implemented would be in a post apocalyptic survival type game:

    -You only have have 25 rounds of .223, 7 of 5.56 and two magazines for your beat-to-shit AR-15, and you damn well better remember that.

    -Speaking of it being beat-to-shit, it hasn’t been properly cleaned in some time so there’s a good chance that the bolt won’t close completely and you’ll be needing that forward assist.

    -This cuts both ways however, the raider who seems reluctant to shoot you? He only has 6 rounds left for his Mini-14, but more importantly he has no magazine and has to put a round into the chamber and close the bolt onto it manually effectively making his rifle single shot and he has to make it count.

    …and so on.


    *-Don’t like that? Tell someone who cares.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      *I care, a little bit. So you can tell it to me, if you like.

      1. Well, I would, but that would be politics*. So I won’t.

        *So is being gratuitously pugnacious about gun ownership in the first place.

    2. Syal says:

      *If you don’t like it, you can talk to the hand**.

      **It’s the one with the GUN in it.

    3. Michael says:

      I want. The only game I can remember playing that actually had partial mag retention was the original Operation Flashpoint, and the ARMA sequels.

      1. Flockofpanthers says:

        Also SWAT 4

        1. Michael says:

          Oddly enough, I’ve never played any of the SWAT games.

      2. Decius says:

        Jagged Alliance 2 (or maybe it was the fan patch) tracked partial magazines. It did make the assumption that your mercs always had enough of the correct empty magazines, and it didn’t impose nearly enough of a time cost for reloading from loose bullets/wrong magazines to be realistic.

  17. psivamp says:

    Money well spent, I just laughed at myself for a couple hours. It is tense and under those conditions it is hard to hit the fliers.

    I found out after dumping half a mag into a turret that the camera was hit and it could no longer see me – all of my previous turret kills had been motor so it was obvious the thing was no longer a threat — and I hadn’t gotten the tape explaining that all the drones have three weak points.

  18. Don’t play FPSes, never going to buy the game, but I enjoyed this review. It’s like having a conversation with someone smart about something they care about and are good at explaining. Keep writing them like this. :)

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Go surf the archive! It’s aaaaaaall like that.

      1. Yes, but I’ve already read the archive. Twice. :(

  19. Zagzag says:

    Well, I was intrigued enough to actually pick this up, and I’ve had a couple of hours of good fun with it so far, once I figured out how to load bullets into magazines that is.

  20. Blake says:

    Nice to have a game review on here again.
    This game is something I would never bother with on my own, so reading about it is a good alternative.

  21. IronCore says:

    I am enjoying this return to game reviews.

  22. TSi says:

    I like playing it from time to time. It’s a fun game with a mysterious and dark tone and the randomness still makes it interesting after all these months. I do hope however that the Wolfire team includes some more stuff into it. The forum is piling up with lots of ideas that would be quite fun as mods.

  23. bionicOnion says:

    The other interesting thing about Receiver (but something that’s admittedly really hard to notice while you’re playing the game since you’re constantly dying) is that the developer intended it to induce a religious experience. Whether or not the developers succeeded is, of course, a debatable topic–especially since the majority of the cultist insinuations are back-loaded into the game’s bizarre ending cutscene–but it’s an intriguing concept nonetheless.

    This is somewhat moot, though, since the only way that I’ve EVER reached the endgame was through the extensive use of cheat codes, which I’ll include here as a public service:

    iddqd — God mode
    idkfa — Grants bullets
    slomo — Slow motion (press Tab to toggle)

  24. Canthros says:

    I played a demo or something of this a while back when mentioned it. This review got me to buy it on Steam. It’s an interesting thing, though I’m not really sure about the degree to which it’s ‘fun’ to play.

    I really like guns, including their aspect as mechanical objects, and Receiver scratches an itch I have to mess around with a slavishly accurate simulation-style FPS. For, like, 15 minutes or so at a time.

    I’m not really sure Receiver is fun, but I think the world is (infinitesimally) better for it existing.

  25. mwchase says:

    The comment on violence makes me want to see more in the way of FPSes where you play as a nature photographer. The closest I know of offhand is Pokemon Snap, which is a railshooter where you play as a nature photographer, but there’s got to be more out there, even if it’s mainly minimal experimental stuff.

    I was pondering what I’d want a game like that to have: maybe something like the creature builder from Spore, combined with an attempt to synthesize believable, or at least interesting, ecosystems from community content.

  26. AyeGill says:

    I bought Reciever based on this review, and I have to say I really like it.

    It does the same thing as Hotline Miami(not that it’s like Hotline Miami in any other way), in that it’s really unforgiving, but as a result, every so often, the gods of emergent behavior grant you a truly amazing moment. Although the shorter feedback cycle of Hotlime Miami makes it a very different experience.

    Like, in Hotline Miami, you’d bust down a door into a room full of guys with guns. And nine out of ten times they’d just shoot you and you’d feel like an idiot. But that tenth time, you just barely manage to throw a knife at one guy, dodge the others’ bullets, punch out a second guy, pick up his gun and gun down the third, all in one smooth motion, and you feel like a total badass.

    One of the first things that happened to me was actually sort of the Reciever equivalent of that. I spotted a turret too late and just barely managed to duck into cover behind a pillar. I checked my gun. Empty. Cursing, I looked around and spotted two bullets lying on the ground. Wide out in the open. Fuck.

    In my mind’s eye I saw it: I’d leap out of cover when the turret was looking away, grab the bullets, get back in, load my gun, and take down the turret. All in one smooth motion. Now was the time. I leaped out of cover and within a fraction of a second the turret had shot me. I fell to the ground and felt like an idiot.

    But in my next game, when I shot a drone headed towards me with my last bullet and it fell to the floor, it invoked in me a very elusive, very exhilarating sort of relief. It’s the very special, primordial feeling of standing over a dead lion after a battle for your life. But that feeling wouldn’t be nearly as sweet if the lion wasn’t dangerous.

    1. Yes, this is definitely an experience that I think would be ruined by making it easier – the game relies on the big tension that comes from the enemies being incredibly dangerous. But if it took just a few more hits to kill you, it would be far less interesting.

  27. TmanEd says:

    I absolutely love receiver, but I’ve played it so much that I’ve wrung just about all the enjoyment I can get out of it. And, of the the untold hours I’ve played the thing, I’ve only won twice.

  28. Malkara says:

    Probably a bit late to this, but there’s actually someone making a similarly advanced multiplayer shooter:

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