Enter the world of The Watchmaker, a new third-person / first-person multi-character adventure game. Never heard of such a thing before? You have now, and it’s an interesting jaunt. In The Watchmaker players have the choice of playing as Victoria Conroy, Legal Eagle or Darrel Boone, Ghost Buster. This is a move sure to please those concerned that only having a male or female character in a game may reflect a subconscious sexism. But the multi-character idea is not really about sex, it about teamwork.
Having two different characters to play seems like a cool idea. Why not double your pleasure, like you double size your coke and your French fries? Overwhelmed by the joy of doubling my fun I happily jumped back and forth between characters. That’s until I snapped to the fact that it seemed I could only access inventory items by the character who picks them up and that some situations could only be resolved by the character opposite of who I was playing. This brings me to a cardinal rule and a friendly tip – always read the manual. Cradled by adventure games and their relatively static interfaces, I usually skim my manual, superciliously throw it aside and plunge into the icy waters. However, most players will figure out rather quickly that this is not the best approach for The Watchmaker. Especially as they become confused about how to operate their inventory items and work various triggers in the gaming environment. The game is generally good at letting you know that only Darrel or Victoria can perform a task and once you read your manual you will know how to keep the two of them in close quarters for the occasions when a swap is called for. Once you understand that it takes both characters to complete the game, something I will admit I stubbornly tried to circumvent, it is simply a matter of learning how to operate the game’s controls.
Keyboard aficionados will delight in The Watchmaker’s interface, which is a hybrid keyboard/mouse set-up, reminiscent of Grim Fandango. While the interface is surely more complex than what most adventure gamers are used to, you will find that you are running with it in no time. Most of the challenges presented in the game are inventory based. While very challenging, none of them were overwhelming. I felt the designers did an excellent job of weaving all the puzzles into the story and the game environment. Every test make perfect sense in relation to the story and the environment in which it was placed. There were no truly grueling trials, due to the fact that proper clues and information was expertly knit into dialogue or easily found through exploration and summation.
The story powering the game is introduced as a search and destroy mission for a doodad so powerful, you guessed it, it could cause destruction on a global scale. It then appears that this doomsday device is hidden in a Viennese castle owned by a vague, but sinister presence aptly named, the Multinational. Considering the current crop of news articles centering on corporate avarice, an ominous international conglomerate as foe doesn’t seem so far fetched. This isn’t a new or even original plot, but the story fills out and deepens nicely as you explore the castle.Continued on the next page...