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Old 09-10-2003, 08:48 AM   #1
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Default In search for a pendulum, a review of The Watchmaker

In search for a pendulum, a review of The Watchmaker by Ragnar Ouchterlony

Introduction

Victoria Conroy and Darrel Boone is summoned in a London law office at 3:00 AM one day. They should make a team to search for a strange device in the form of a large pendulum that supposedly should have the ability to focus so called "leyline" energy (whatever that is). Six hours later Victoria and Darrel finds themselves in an old castle and the search can begin.

Game play

You play both Darrel and Victoria in the the search for the pendulum and you can switch between them almost anytime you like. You have a digital assistant that the main characters writes interesting things that they see and small notes about the inhabitants of the castle. This feature is nice and very helpful.

The game is realized using a real time 3D-engine. You can play both in first and third person view, which is a nice feature. However the third person view is crippled with that you can't freely choose were the place of the camera. You are also limited in how large angles you can turn the camera in which is often frustrating.

The game features a rather usual point and click interface. That is, you find something that you want to look at click on it with the left mouse button, if you want to interact with it click the right mouse button. A problem is though that many things, especially large objects such as trees take up to much hot-spot-place and thus making it hard to find a way round them.

The graphics are nice even if it is nothing spectacular. Most of the surroundings look as they should but is a bit on the boring side. The same thing goes for the background music. It is nothing exciting even if it isn't that bad.

The puzzles are most often well done even if they can be on the hard side since there are lot of things to interact with and you will keep everything you pick up even if you won't use it anymore.

Now to the part of the game that is without doubt the worst. This is the voice acting. In the English version I played, the voice actors sounded like they have been told to show as little emotion as possible and speak with a monotonous voice. It is a shame that the voice actors are so bad, the game had even been better without voice acting.

My thoughts

I usually like being able to play two different characters to be able to see things from different angles. This is not very easy to accomplish and requires that the characters is well-defined and have distinct personalities so that you feel they are different. Another aspect is that things and people you interact with should react according to the playing characters personality. In The Watchmaker however, Victoria and Darrel feels almost the same. They even say exactly the same sentences in very many cases. This is very disappointing and together with the low performance of the voice actors makes dialogue not a very pleasant experience.

The plot is very intriguing and though it is rather slow with a lot of dialogue that isn't well written in the beginning it gradually becomes better and the end is rather good. I found it hard to become engaged in the game so that the cause of the main characters also becomes mine, especially in the beginning. However this follows with the plot. The more intriguing it gets the more easily you become engaged in the story.

The interface of the game too often becomes an obstacle rather than a help in your search for the pendulum. You can't click on the thing you want, it is sometimes hard to get to where you want and sometimes the characters begin to walk in opposite direction to what you want seemingly because the computer think you hit on something else than you thought you did. There are nice features in the interface though such as the PDA.

In conclusion I would say that The Watchmaker has a good plot that has been badly mistreated due to rather badly written dialogues and awful voice acting together with a deficient interface. If you think you can stand this, you will definitely be in for a thrilling plot.

Ratings

Story: 6 / 10
Puzzles: 7 / 10
(Voice) acting: 2 / 10
Graphics: 6 / 10
Sound and Music: 5 / 10
Originality: 5 / 10
Overall: 5 / 10
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