You Are Empty

Moby ID: 28719
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Description official descriptions

The USSR has gradually become the world leader in science and technology, and the government has researched the creation of genetically engineered humans to serve a perfect totalitarian communist society. The experiment fails, and the city where it was tested becomes a dead zone. The protagonist wakes up in the city, having somehow managed to avoid the effects of the mutation. He has to explore the ruins, escape, and figure out how this tragedy could happen and why he is not affected by it.

You are Empty is a 3D first-person shooter set in the end of the 1950s in an alternate Soviet history. During the search, the player can collect notes that tell more about the background of the game. The entire city is in decay, with dark environments and a constant atmosphere of isolation. The mutated opponents include giant hens and rats, mutilated dogs and nurses, watchmen, soldiers and workers. There are also a few characters that provide help. The available weapons include a wrench, Mauser, shotgun, nail gun, PPSh, rifle, electric gun and molotov cocktails. Most weapons have a secondary function to zoom in or for close combat. Ammo is scattered around and health can be replenished through water stations or canisters. The gameplay is mainly action-based, with a few minor puzzles that involve switches and keys. The level path is entirely linear.

The game uses the in-house developed DS2 engine, reminiscent of Valve's 3D Engine: Source, with a similar graphical style, and an interactive and physics-based environment for both items and characters. There are both indoor and outdoor environments, with villages, factories, large cities, underground passages, a subway, a canyon, an opera house, and a level entirely on the rooftops. In the beginning of the game and between certain levels, rendered cut-scenes are shown. These are entirely in black and white, with a few hints of red, and tell the events that lead up to the Great Transformation.

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Credits (Windows version)

82 People (61 developers, 21 thanks) · View all

Technical Director
Engine Core & Architecture
Sound System
Game System
Game Scripting
System Administration
Game Idea
Art Director
Concept Art
Level Design
[ full credits ]



Average score: 51% (based on 25 ratings)


Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 41 ratings with 4 reviews)

This game is (almost) empty

The Good
This game clearly has an interesting background story and the black and white cut scenes are very nice. Some of the levels have an interesting design and the enemies are quite good modeled. I like the idea about an emerging plot, where you find notes and such that tells the player what has happened.

The Bad
Unfortunately the game totally lacks atmosphere, the levels feels just like dead objects without any soul. It's too far between plot revealing notes and they have committed the (in my opinion) unforgivable sin of having monsters spawn right in front of the player. Another thing I'm wondering is why the player can't run? One could explain it by the fact that he was in a traffic accident in the intro, but if he is so fit as to walk through all the levels he should be able to run short distances. And where did they get those lousy voice actors? At least 50% of them were really bad.

The Bottom Line
If you want a game with emerging plot and good atmosphere play System Shock 2 or, if you have a good computer, Bioshock instead of this game.

Windows · by Tomas Pettersson (31846) · 2008

Great looking but slow & boring

The Good
Overall Graphics are OK.
Monster design and textures are quite good.
The atmosphere is somehow original.

The Bad
I don't understand how you can release a FPS in 2007 where you can't run. To make the game longer? Only that small detail ruins everything. It's slow, you can't strafe rapidly around your enemy.

Moreover, the whole game is a big corridor, level design is not good.

Flat & boring.

It's a shame. It could have been a great game.

The Bottom Line
This game is a great looking first person shooter with an original setting: You evolve in an alternate history where USSR won the war against the rest of the world. Unfortunately the game is really boring. Level design is not exciting and you will be bored after a few levels.

Too bad, it looked promising.

Windows · by PH Globox (1) · 2007

Certainly not empty, but not quite full either

The Good
Designed by a small, yet passionate Ukrainian studio, You Are Empty is one of those post-Soviet first-person shooters capitalizing on the grimly attractive aesthetics of the communist past - much like its better-known (and certainly much more ambitious) cousin. One thing is certain: it is one of the most frighteningly imaginative depictions of the infamous totalitarian regime gone even worse in the alternate reality.

The world of You Are Empty is not just beautiful: it is very detailed. Every single location is meticulously, painstakingly modeled. Whether indoors or outdoors, the levels of You Are Empty are gorgeously decadent. Everything here is dominated by decay, but this decay is proud and majestic. These are the ruins of an entire civilization, a civilization that attempted to symbolize youth, energy, belief in a better, brighter future. There couldn't be a sharper contrast than that between the official Soviet ideology and the reality of this game. The real Soviet Union already was a scary place. But here, it is positively terrifying. It is a grotesque illustration of the regime's horrors, a splendid picture of ruin and utter devastation.

The locations in You Are Empty are varied. Nothing is repeated in this game. All the levels have the same unforgettable atmosphere, but they are quite different visually. You are taken to a scary, hollow rural area; typical Soviet depressing apartments and backyards; solemn, "totalitarian" city center with "Stalin buildings"; famous Soviet subway stations; opulent opera house. Indoor and outdoor locations replace each other at a good pace. The scenery is constantly changing, yet absolutely homogeneous.

You Are Empty is good at emphasizing the survival aspect of first-person shooters. This is not one of those games in which you are a super-powerful badass who mows down legions of enemies. There are no epic, large-scale battles here, but plenty of moments when enemies suddenly begin to pop out from different places - one maniac shooting at you from an open window on the opposite building, another charging at you madly with an axe in his hand, a third calmly side-stepping while pouring out lead from his machine gun, etc. Survival is difficult, danger awaits at every corner, and your nerves are liberally wrecked.

I found the enemies of You Are Empty very scary and disturbing. I heard complaints of a brain-dead AI, but what do you care for their AI when they are about to kill you, brutally and mercilessly? When they attack you, you feel intimidated. Those enemies are vicious, and they are completely crazy. So they might run around in circles sometimes, but they would also suddenly leap at you, shouting maniacally, and trust me, in that moment you won't think about their AI. The most frightening ones were probably those mutated hens in the farm. I died many times there, simply because I was paralyzed by fear of those creatures.

The weapons of You Are Empty are well balanced. Every weapon feels differently, has advantages and disadvantages. You'll probably like some of the weapons and hate others, but that's part of what makes it interesting. Of course "pistol is crap", but what to do when there is no ammo for other, more powerful weapons? Gunplay dynamics change depending on which weapon you use and against whom. Machine gun will probably be your weapon of choice, but ammo is very rare - unless you fight against the soldiers, who are equipped with it. The rifles feel great; I was really looking forward to those "Red Army skeletons", to lay my hands on their rifles. Shotgun is as satisfying as ever. In short, I had fun with those weapons, which is more than can be said about some FPSs.

There isn't much of a plot in the game, but towards the end you'll be able to uncover some information that explains the strange events you've been witnessing. The movies that tell the cryptic story are very interesting. The unique, "distorted" speed of the film, the camera work, the usage of colors (black-white with a bit of red) provide a gradually building, irresistible suspense.

The Bad
It's a real pity that what lies beneath the beautiful facade is a depressingly simplistic first-person shooter without any distinguishing gameplay-related traits.

Essentially, this is a game in which you walk (yes, you can't run at all) around and kill enemies. There is nothing else. That may sound like the perfect description of an FPS, but even prototypical games like Doom had various extras, not to mention gameplay refinements introduced in Duke Nukem 3D and others. From the point of view of gameplay, You Are Empty is bare bones; it feels like an ancient relic with archaic, rudimentary mechanics. Yes, the levels are beautiful, but they are mere decorations. There is nothing to interact with. There are no inventory or any tasks at all beyond simply pulling the trigger many times.

You Are Empty is completely, utterly linear. Compared to this game, Half-Life 2 feels like an expansive sandbox. Once you finish the game there is nothing else to see; play it again and you are guaranteed to have the exact same experience. No wonder it feels stale and artificial when you attempt to replay it and see you've literally seen everything it had to offer the first time. Now, shooters like Half-Life can disguise their linearity, offering a variety of tasks and setpieces that enhance the experience. You Are Empty is fully scripted, but not in an interesting way. There is no excitement in the never-ending routine of encounters with enemies that are triggered by walking in the right direction. That's why the game feels so static and underwhelming. Just a little bit room for breathing, a few optional areas, some exploration would have done it a great service. Alas, there is none of that here.

Well, and it also has one of the worst video game titles I've come across recently. You Are Empty? Who on Earth came up with this name?..

The Bottom Line
At its best, You Are Empty is a visually appealing, atmospheric shooter with a well-developed survival aspect. At its worst, however, it is an astonishingly simple game with a dreadfully linear gameplay that quickly becomes too predictable. It's worth checking out for its artistic merits, but as an FPS it is merely average.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (181794) · 2015

[ View all 4 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
How do I get rid of these graphic bugs? chirinea (47510) Sep 5, 2011
New interview with designer Yaroslav Singaevskiy xroox (3895) Sep 1, 2008
What does this mean? (Russian safety poster) xroox (3895) Apr 16, 2008


Cut content

Several things changed during the game's 3 year development period. Previews stated that your character would run the risk of turning into a mutant himself. You'd have to find antidotes to stop yourself from going completely insane. Also, you could gain superhuman powers that could be used to your advantage.

Early builds featured additional gameplay elements, like the ability to hide bodies (for more of a stealth-based style?). There was talk of boss battles with adaptive AI, and a general focus on AI over scripting.

A few enemies didn't make the final cut including an imposing-looking butcher (who can be seen in screenshots and trailers). A brief look at the game's files suggests that all the assets for these enemies are still there... but they don't appear in any levels.

Two weapons (a heavy machine-gun and a 'stick bomb' style hand-grenade) don't appear in the game but are accessible via console commands.


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: xroox, Alaka, Dimitriy Dyachenko, Victor Vance.

Game added June 23, 2007. Last modified February 11, 2024.