A successful experiment, inside and out.
The downloadable front has been seeing a decent amount of quirky Saturday morning gore these days, and Warp is here to offer something less traditional. With its silent, cutesy alien protagonist and corny scientist jabber, Warp is misleading at first, making itself out to be an adorable little mascot adventure using the power to teleport through objects as a the core to a puzzle/action game.
Then you watch as the nameless alien experiment warps himself inside a person's body, which explodes with its guts, limbs, and gore splattered across the walls. And it sinks in: Warp is going to be comically grim, with that 'B-movie horror' vibe and tongue-in-cheek flair. It works quite well, especially when paired up with gameplay ideas that get introduced at a steady pace and are all utilized by the end in some capacity. The fact that all soldiers have one voice and all scientists likewise sound identical is a bit strange, and hearing the same lines multiple times can get a touch annoying, but it's still amusing nevertheless.
The game's primary gameplay element is that the cuddly-wuddly creature in your control can warp a set space ahead of him, allowing him to pass through walls or into objects. As you progress, it will develop different abilities that enhance this skill, like sending decoy projections of itself out to distract enemies and eventually even being able to swap positions with objects (or enemies). There are just enough mechanics within the four hours of gameplay to spur creative problem-solving and keep you trying out new things without becoming repetitious. No ability outstays its welcome unless you make it, since the game allows a fairly wide girth in terms of how to deal with enemies.
Collectible (no doubt, nuclear waste-ridden) grubs are strewn about the interconnected labs and hallways and are used to upgrade the alien's abilities to suit your style. You can choose to enhance the creature's speed and offense, or make actions quieter and harder to detect for a more stealthy approach. You can play through the whole game without destroying a single non-boss enemy, as far as I can tell, though such a feat would be tricky, to be sure. Speaking of bosses, there are only a sparse few, but they are designed decently, especially the last one. This is largely because they ramp up as the battle goes on, destroying your options for cover over time and also picking up in speed. They also incorporate the puzzle-like style of play into a boss-battle format well.
With a surprisingly packed world that grants players with a relatively small but varied set of tricks, Warp is a well-designed experience with an effective difficulty curve and a solid pace. It suffers from some presentation issues, like having to sit through some loading time with every death (which happens instantaneously and semi-frequently). But it manages to blend strategy and puzzle-solving with reaction and timing, all melded together beneath an adorable but charmingly gross exterior. Like its quirky protagonist, Warp is small and doesn't have much to say, but it earns your respect and attention by the end with its originality.