As part of an argument to illustrate the quality of gaming these days, I recently made the following statement:
Even the worst games and most cynical pieces of shovelware that grace the bargain bins nowadays are still eminently playable and recognisable as games. They can still be enjoyed in some small measure by their intended target audience- if only for a few minutes. - Jon Lester, When Was Gaming's Golden Age?
Well, it turns out that I was dead wrong. Truth Or Lies is a broken, depressing and unremittingly awful title that would have been pointless even if it worked.
Which it doesn't.
The premise is simple enough. Essentially it's a game of 'truth or truth'- the tame version of truth or dare- that promised to be able to distinguish between correct answers and deliberate lies. Players are asked stock questions or grilled by their companions, and subsequently speak their answers into a USB microphone. Tonal recognition software would then ostensibly take care of the rest. As Neil pointed out in an earlier preview, this setup would have provided great scope for party revelations and horrific domestic squabbles as each player reveals their secrets and scores points based on their honesty. Unfortunately, Truth or Lies doesn't deliver. Despite a long and laborious (though strangely optional) calibration sequence for each player, the lie detection is completely broken. In fact, if I were being cynical, I'd suggest that it's completely random.
This abject shoddiness came to a head during a particularly vicious round of testing, when the software identified both a loud belch and an implausible story regarding my companion's mother as truthful answers (and, indeed, the most reliable answers of the competition). Sure, it's correct approximately half of the time... but so is flipping a coin.
But who cares, right? Surely it's just a fun excuse to learn some embarassing facts about your friends at a party? Well... no. The questions are completely limp, uninteresting and oblique even on the 'adult' settings. "What do you think of capitalism?" was a particular favourite that's bound to provide hours of stimulating debate. No, wait, the other thing: boredom followed by a mass exodus to somewhere- anywhere- more interesting.
Presentation is also shockingly poor, resulting in a grab bag of disgraceful sins against competent game design. An unskippable obnoxious narrator oversees the proceedings, inciting bouts of frustrated rage as he blurts out repeated dialogue that wasn't remotely humorous the first time around. There's no avatar or WiiMii support- just 16 bizarre caricatures that literally won't resemble anyone you'll know. Despite needing to state your own name to the microphone when registering a new player, the game doesn't even use it. Instead, cringingly unfunny pre-recorded nicknames are doled out to each person. Corners are cut at every opportunity; resulting in an experience that demonstrates profound laziness and a lack of basic respect for the target audience.
There is only one redeeming feature that stops me from reclassifying Truth Or Lies as a prohibitively expensive paperweight and coaster set. The entire roster of achievements/trophies is extremely easy to earn, requiring between 1 and 2 hours of play to complete. Dedicated scorewhores will be able to grind it out in much less time than that. The fact that easily-obtained arbitrary prizes are the only positive aspect speaks volumes about the quality of the rest of the experience.
- Unbelievably easy achievements
- Excellent recording quality
- A perfect gift for someone you genuinely hate
- Deeply terrible in every imaginable way
- Lie detection doesn't work, rendering the whole thing utterly pointless
- Limp questions provide little scope for controversy
The Short Version: Truth or Lies is, without question, the worst game to have released in recent years. It's absolutely pointless, poorly executed and lacks any redeeming features beyond the acquisition of Gamerscore. In fact, you're better off spending the RRP on the most expensive bottle of spirits you can afford. Not only will you get drunk, but you'll actually be able to enjoy a decent game of Spin The Bottle afterwards.