It's the American Civil War in a steampunk alternaverse. Just as the Confederacy battles the Union, bad actors wage daily war with uncomfortable, over-earnest scripts.
But all these things are under threat from Lord Prescott, an industrialist whose corporation threatens to take over America with automatic men and drug-controlled super-humans.
It all sounds interesting. But Damnation does everything in its power to alienate you, and while I'm about to try and explain why it's actually quite enjoyable, I've got to run through its major problems first.
For starters, it's astonishingly glitchy. Allies will fail to move, then teleport to their next scripted location. The enemy AI regularly fails to notice you, sometimes even allowing you to shoot it in the face a few times before saying, "Oh, hi" and dying.
Combat's dreadful, too. The aiming is over-sensitive, the weapons unconvincing, and you're never sure if melee attacks connect until either you or your opponent dies. Elsewhere on the complaint list: the motorbikes feel needless, and Lord Prescott's propaganda broadcasts will drive you quickly insane with their 20 second loops.
Got all that? Good. The silver lining is that despite all of this, Damnation is a genuinely decent platformer. You don't have the range of moves that Lara, The Prince or Faith have (and it's hard to believe there's anyone left in video games who can't wall-walk), but the levels are huge, full and well designed, with multiple routes through them that always instinctively guide you in the right direction.
There's also a fantastic sense of scale. Looking back, halfway into a level, you'll see how far you've come - and how far you've got left to go. That's a feeling you don't get often, and it's something developer Blue Omega deserves kudos for. You'll find yourself going back just to see the next cavernous level and embarrassing cutscene.
This is Blue Omega's first real game, and the temptation is to give it an easy ride because of its indie roots. And you have to admit, fans of Tomb Raider have been putting up with drab gunplay and crap motorbike moments for years.
But indie or not, it still costs forty quid, and Damnation's platforming - it's strongest suit - is only just strong enough to carry you through.
Great platforming, shame about the rest
- Grand sense of scale
- Intelligently designed levels
- Satisfying (if limited) platforming
- Empty combat
- Unfinished and unprofessional