It's about half past apocalypse and you awake from cryogenic sleep. A helpful screen reminds you that you are an accomplished triathlete, freeclimber, and generally all-round extreeeeeeme young lady. Probably with attitude.
You and the rest of the world's heroes were sent to an underground facility when the Earth's surface became uninhabitable so that you could reemerge and kickstart civilisation once things were a bit less grim. As it happens things are still quite grim but the facility's talking AI, OSCAR – who is nothing like HAL 9000 or GlaDOS, honest! - informs you that the generator is knackered and you'll have to fix it or everyone will die in ten hours. Oh.
At least it's not all bad. For some reason you've acquired a pair of futuristic gloves that give you telekinetic powers; the Force, essentially. Your left glove pulls objects towards you and your right glove pushes things away but through questionable application of physics they also give you jumping abilities. Holding down the left mouse button to charge your glove allows you to leap to great heights or over long distances, while charging and releasing the right mouse button lets you use the push to cushion a fall. So far the controls are pretty solid and feel natural but the movement of your character is a little jarring. Walking forwards is fine but you are substantially slowed when walking backwards or strafing. I suppose if you think about it that's quite accurate but when every other first person game has maintained an equal movement speed in all directions it does feel very odd, especially when the game starts making you avoid enemies.
Yes, I'm afraid I used the word "enemies." Not content to give us a selection of physics puzzles, the developers felt that the game needed invincible, gravity-defying enemies to mix things up. What made Portal's turrets a welcome addition was the fact that they were stationary. They added a lethal but predictable challenge to the later levels. Twin Sector's "tracers" hover after you ceaselessly while you try to solve the next sterile, charmless puzzle. Eventually you turn to backpedal, forgetting that it makes you move so much more slowly, and the blighter zaps you in the face. "You were neutralized. Restarting at last checkpoint."
There are two ways to combat the tracers. Firstly you can use a telekinetic push to knock them back a few feet. Alternatively you can pick up a weighty object, if there happens to be one nearby, and launch it at your foe. This would be fine if picking up an object didn't entirely block your view so that you can't see what you're aiming at! It might sound petty for me to pick on something you'd expect to be just a minor foible but this frustration pops up so often in levels where you have to fire a crate at a tiny button on the other side of the room.
Even more frustrating than that is the tendency for solutions to require pixel-perfect accuracy, even in the opening levels. Environments tend to be so bare and empty that the one possible solution is immediately obvious but after half a dozen attempts to throw yourself up at the platform and miss by inches you start to doubt yourself. Is this jump actually impossible or am I just aiming two pixels to the left of where they want me to?
The game's graphics are acceptable, but nothing more, and the animation is really lacking. During cutscenes the robotic movement of characters is laughable in comparison with the standards we're now used to. What I can say is that performance is good. I never experienced any frame rate issues and load times were fine but I'm fortunate to be playing on a system well above the recommended specs of a GeForce 6800 XT and 1.5GB RAM.
Before I sign off it's only fair I point out that Twin Sector was developed by a team of five people. It has to be said that it shows but really it's an admirable effort from such a small dev team. The trouble is that Twin Sector could cost you up to £25 depending on where you look. Had it been a freely distributed mod for another game or even an Xbox Live Arcade title then I'm sure its faults would have been much easier to overlook but this is an expensive game, released at a time of year when it has so much competition for our hard-earned cash. Sadly Twin Sector just isn't worth it.