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Immersive Sims have always been one of the niche design philosophies in the market because of its departure from standard FPS tropes. They are ‘immersive’ because of the sheer amount of freedom and world-building they provide us- like an all-you-can-eat buffet, and even though some of them focus heavily on shooting (e.g. Bioshock), that’s usually not the only method to progress.

This goes without saying that I’m a complete nut for immersive sims and wear the proverbial monocle to scan through even the tiniest details that the games offer. And so far every sim I’ve come across, even Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has completely knocked that aspect out of the park.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for the System Shock inspired P.A.M.E.L.A.

Story & Narrative

Out there floating on the ocean surface lies Eden- a once-thriving utopia now ravaged by death and affliction. Mostly self-sustaining and designed to accommodate a large genetically-modified population, Eden is overlooked by the eponymous AI named P.A.M.E.L.A. However her omnipresence is unable to prevent the spread of a mysterious corruption and the citizen go schizophrenic, eventually beginning to kill each other. And gradually the floating city is reduced to a silent husk gliding across the ocean.

However all hope is not lost because one of the citizens still frozen in cryosleep remains alive, and that’s you- the player. The dulcet voiced P.A.M.E.L.A awakens you with the mandate to get to the root of the tragedy that had befallen Eden. However, it’s not your regular walk-in-the-park job as the afflicted (yet somewhat sentient citizens), slumber through the corridors and won’t stop at anything to maul you down when they see you. With P.A.M.E.L.A by your side, you need to get to the bottom of all this chaos.

If the city’s abandoned they who’s making these spooky ambient sounds

In the case of immersive sims, good narrative build-up comes with detailed world-building through items like posters, datapads, audio files, emails, etc. Even item descriptions can efficiently do the job. Sadly, I couldn’t find more than a few of these items in my exploration. I mean there is lore, but instead of being shown in-game, much of it is confined to the wiki pages. There are audio files but its all about P.AM.E.L.A, describing her ‘feelings’ and ’emotions’. I found two or three laptops that spoke of the entities that had invested in Eden project, e.g. Bio-Sterra, Mitra, ARK Medical, however not much information is present about these entities themselves. Even their wiki pages don’t turn up with any information.

Well, at least I found some posters in the game. However, the same posters are copy-pasted in almost all locations, speaking of acute laziness on the part of the devs. Prey (2017)  had audio files and diary entries on the dead NPCs, so they somewhat felt like actual humans I could empathize with. P.A.M.E.L.A does nothing like that and all these afflicted citizens feel like generic zombies even though they have sentience, feel pain, and speak English.

How is this guy not falling off balance after standing like that?

Gameplay and Mechanics

P.A.M.E.L.A has some really nuanced mechanics, not gonna lie- but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. But first, let’s talk about the good parts, like the inventory. At first glance, the invasive, holographic inventory might look more sophisticated than it actually is. The player has a multipurpose device on our arm called… the AARM, using which we can manage our inventory by moving or rotating items, similar to Resident Evil 4. The game doesn’t auto-adjust the items like many games do nowadays, making the inventory management seem like a mini-puzzle per se. Extra space can be unlocked by acquiring certain items hidden behind locked cases which player has to hack within a stipulated time.

Yes, the sweet inventory where everything is right infront!

The AARM also shows some item descriptions, along with the currently equipped weapons, powers, shields, etc. But most importantly, the AARM displays your health, energy, hunger, and thirst levels which don’t show up in the HUD. Actually nothing shows up in the HUD save for some warnings. Maybe, the devs wanted to increase the immersion, and it works to some extent, but every time I wanted to check how much health or energy I have, I had to look up the AARM. Word of warning, don’t think it’s like the Pipboy from Fallout series because the world doesn’t pause when you use it. So you’ll never know how much your health is decreasing or how much energy you’ve left during a battle. This becomes a matter of life and death. Even though you can see blood appearing on the screen when on low health, you won’t know when to hotfoot out of a fight without popping up the AARM. And your chances of early expiration increases exponentially when you do this.

Muh t-thirsty! N-need water!

However, death is not the end, in fact, it’s the beginning, quite literally, because you’ll have to start the game again from the first location while retaining all the XP. Sadly you’ll lose all the items you had picked along the way, pretty much like Souls and Nier Automata, but unlike them, you won’t be able to recover them after reaching your spot of death. Now, repeat everything you did for the past 2-3 hours! Post-death, P.A.M.E.L.A goes rogue-lite as the enemies now spawn at different locations and you won’t find the same items where you found before, thus making every playthrough unique… and frustrating!

The Save option in the pause menu is literally a practical joke. All those progress you made is lost because of the terrible combat mechanics and character movement speed. The main character is supposed to be genetically modified, but the rate at which our character runs out of stamina, goes hungry, or feels thirsty is much worse than that of a 10-year-old- and before you realize, you’ll be running low on fumes while punching the crap out of an enemy.

These guys don’t die even after cutting and burning them using lasers

Visuals, Sound & Performance

To be honest, the graphics didn’t interest me much- I guess it’s ok because most of the areas are covered in pitch blackness and are only illuminable via your flashlight. Sadly, the flashlight does nothing except illuminating an area within a circle. Man, that’s not how flashlights work; the light spreads across the environment in a parabolic fashion. In a game where light is an indispensable asset, there should be a better visual to it, a bit of reality to the physics, you know.

Other than that, the devs tried hard to make Eden seem like a futuristic place but ended up copying the same set of assets in almost all places. The corridors look the same, all the furniture is placed in the same areas, in fact, there were moments when I wondered if I was running in circles because the room I was in was so similar to the previous room. Again, it breaks the immersion. However, the holographic projection of the AARM was what attracted my attention the most and kind of like the fact that we can use it to manage everything in the game.

Didn’t I pass this area a while ago?

P.A.M.E.L.A nails it in the sound department with its spooky yet oddly soothing ambient scores right from the menu screen. However, the AI’s voice itself is devoid of all expressions, even for an AI. Look at Cortana from Halo, she’s more human than any human being. Even EDI from Mass Effect does a better job whereas P.A.M.E.L.A’s voice sounds so drab and falls as flat similar to Eliza Cassan’s voice from Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Even the non-hostile robots look scary af

As for the performance, P.A.M.E.L.A needs nothing short of a full rework. Massive fps drops, game freezes, game crashes, glitches (especially while hacking) shatters whatever sense of immersion the game managed to build up. Even the enemies suffer from Bethesda-level wall glitching after spawning randomly behind your back. Even though this is version 1.0, it feels like the game needs a bigger update to be playable.


Honestly, P.A.M.E.L.A has some of the most interesting premises I have seen, but all this fun is completely overshadowed by a host of technical issues and a general lack of polish. This coupled with the awful character movement and combat mechanics manages to break the immersion instead of building it. I recommend trying this game only after the devs roll out some massive updates


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