Flashback 2 Review – Le Désastre

The original Flashback (1992) was one of the most important games of the late Amiga era. This sci-fi cinematic platform game broke popularity records and racked up numerous GOTY awards. It was even listed in the Guinness World Records as the best-selling French game of all time! Its follow-up, Fade to Black, was less impressive, and the long-awaited true sequel, Flashback Legends, was canceled in 2003. In 2013, a full remaster hit the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, celebrating the vicennial of the original. Now, after three decades, monsieur Paul Cuisset, the creative genius behind the Flashback, decided that the time has come for a revival.

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Sadly, Flashback 2 is a disaster, or le désastre, as French would say. It’s actually pretty rare these days for a high-profile release to turn up this spectacularly bad. After the Gollum debacle in late May, Flashback 2 is only the second occurrence of a truly apocalyptic disappointment in 2023 (that I know of). Everything that could go wrong, went wrong, making the game a poster child for faulty developmental and QA practices across the board. It’s so bad that it is somewhat impressive.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Flashback 2 01

Flashback 2 is not a sequel. Rather, the game is a “direct prequel” to Flashback, having the same general plot, but with an extra-dimensional twist. The “invasion of the body snatchers” setup, super-imposed on the futuristic, interplanetary Humanity threatened by Master Brain, is the same; The difference is a (weak) narrative shenanigan, which I won’t elaborate on for obvious reasons. Suffice it to say that you’ll once again take the mantle of a young intelligence agent Conrad B. Hart. You’ll jump over platforms, flip switches, shoot droids, cyber soldiers, and other assorted abominations, reaching ever closer to the very center of the corruption.

This time, however, you’ll do all that in the glorious 2,5D. The third pseudo-dimension, I guess, was added to make things more interesting. Shooting now requires directional aiming, and navigation and platform-hopping have added depth, making things a bit more challenging, at least in theory. In practice, the 2,5D was implemented in such a way that it became aggravatingly problematic. For starters, you’ll have difficulty moving around, constantly bumping into stuff. The game has a pretty weird positional detection – trying to climb a simple set of stairs often means stumbling on the lower edge of it, and twisting the thumbstick to fit into the “stair-texture”, so to speak. Climbing and jumping are equally frustrating, especially if you try to climb onto a vertical shaft obscured by some object in the frontal plane.

The third dimension of problems

Flashback 2 03

Combat equally suffers from 2,5D. You can’t really aim in this game, you can only point the gun in the general direction of foes and hope your shots hit the mark. You have unlimited ammo though, so at least the only thing you waste is time and a bit of effort. The level of difficulty is also minuscule. There are plenty of instant-healing med packs everywhere. You can even resurrect on the spot after dying, without consequences. Same as the many other things in Flashback 2, I’m not sure if this is a bug or a feature.

Speaking of bugs, they are legion, even after a couple of post-launch patches. Putting the problems associated with faux-3D aside, there are glitches with virtually every component of the engine, from nonfunctional event triggers to cracks in the environment. Falling through textures and ending up in the pitch-black limbo is a common occurrence here. Once you reach the first of the few escort sections in the game, the real fun begins. Even if the story NPC-s that follow you are invulnerable, they often stop following you for no reason. Sometimes they get stuck in the scenery or freeze in place. You should be mentally prepared to reload checkpoints with the patience of a Buddhist.

Talking heads

Flashback 2 review talking heads

In the narrative department, Flashback 2 is sticking to the plot of the original, albeit from a different perspective. The sweet naivete of nineties-era pulp sci-fi is omnipresent, but it’s somehow more banal than retro, if you catch my meaning. The story is told via dialogue, and there is plenty of it, contrary to the original which had a silent protagonist. Instead of gorgeous cinematics, however, we now have basic talking heads moving the plot forward. Everyone’s lines were obviously translated from French, so you can sometimes expect a weird choice of words. But that’s a minor problem compared to everything else.

Judging by the screenshots alone, Flashback 2 looks like modern Metroidvania, but the appearance is super deceiving. The trek through levels is linear, with minor deviations related to choosing whether you’d like to tackle objective A or B first in some situations. The levels themselves are mostly OK but suffer from the dreaded “bug or feature?” syndrome. At times, I wasn’t sure if I was missing something or if some event failed to trigger, leaving me stuck in a section. That’s the death sentence of the flow and fun.

Even if the developer manages to patch every technical hiccup, Flashback 2 will still be mostly horrible. I don’t know why Microids released the game in this state, tainting the memory of the famous original. How the hell did they manage to get Paul Cuisset to sign off on the release? He’s credited as the lead, and the original was his major claim to fame. What a sad way to ruin your legacy.



  • I’ll tell you when I find it.


  • The third dimension only messes things up.
  • Tons of game-breaking bugs and technical inadequacies.
  • The story is pretty basic, banal and naive.
  • Almost completely devoid of any challenge.
Review platform: PS5
Published by: Microids
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