How much do you love adventure games? No matter what your answer is, I can pretty much guarantee that it doesn’t even come close to that of a couple from Sweden. Mikael and Eleen Nyqvist have taken their love of adventure gaming to the ultimate level--they have created one of their own. Using the program Adventure Maker, and utilizing resources readily available to them, they set out to make Remedy. So is it possible for two people without a big budget (or any budget at all, for that matter) to create a game worth playing? You bet it is.
The story begins simply--in fact, you’ll find that as you play the game, simplicity is really one of its biggest virtues. You take on the role of Carol, a young English woman who is vacationing at a friend’s house in Norrkoping, Sweden. While there, you receive word that an old detective friend of yours has died, and that he was in the midst of a new case when it happened. Being a mystery fan and a bit of an amateur sleuth yourself, you decide to pick up the trail where he left off. What follows is a story that is fairly standard as far as mysteries go. Most of your time is spent traveling between locations to interview suspects and search their homes for clues. The plot is presented in a very linear way, and the characters are simply there to help move you along on your investigation, without ever really providing a sense of who they are as people. There is nothing truly surprising or innovative here, but nonetheless I still found myself wanting to know where the story was going to lead.
As the story unfolds, you travel around to several different locales, including the tourist sites of Norrkoping. At all of these locations, there are many directions that you can look, and plenty of things that you can examine up close. Although many of these screens and locations are not necessary to the plot, they enhance the atmosphere and help you get a feel for the city of Norrkoping itself, and maybe even educate you a bit. During your traipsing through the town, you pick up pieces of information that help further the story along. It is this aspect of the game which is likely to attract fans of games like A Quiet Weekend in Capri. Both contain the same kind of leisurely atmosphere and exploration of a foreign land in the midst of a mystery. The game contains a handy map feature that will let you revisit any place that you want to. So for those of you just looking for a relaxing way to spend your time, this is a nice feature for you.
The graphics in the game consist of hundreds of real shots of the city that have been edited to look like something out of a watercolor painting. The effect is very nice looking and creates a surrealistic atmosphere for the game. This is really Remedy’s most memorable feature, as it’s a unique, artistic look that truly sets it apart from other games.
In addition to the photographed backgrounds, live actors were used to portray the characters. There are no video sequences in the game, however. All of the actors were photographed at the game’s different locations and in several different poses. When you talk to them, a voiceover will be heard of what they are saying, while their pictures remain static on the screen. A game that has employed a similar technique is Titanic: Adventure out of Time. It would have been nice to have actual video sequences with the actors, but sadly no. Had the developers had more resources to work with, I’m sure there would have been. The voiceovers in place of the video, however, are more than adequately performed.
As with everything in this game, the music was also made by Mikael and Eleen themselves. Almost every location in the game has its own musical theme to go along with it. All of the music heard in the game was created with different software synthesizers and commonly available music editing software. The result was music that, while not being able to stand up to that of most commercially released games, was still fitting for each location and very rarely sounded repetitive.
The interface and gameplay are both extremely familiar and easy to use--something that is sure to be welcomed by fans of the Myst-style of adventure gameplay. Remedy is played from the first-person perspective and employs the slideshow type of presentation. The game is also completely point & click. Your cursor will become an arrow when you can move or turn in a certain direction. When an item can be interacted with, an action icon will appear, giving you the option to use the item or combine it with something from your inventory. The inventory is hidden at the top of the screen, and items can easily be combined together by clicking and dragging one on top of another. The same process is employed when you want to use an inventory item with something in the main window. Simply click on the inventory item and drag it to the desired object in the main screen. Gaining access to the menu is also a simple procedure. Right clicking the mouse will display a toolbar on the top that gives you the options to quit, save, and load.
As illustrated by the interface and gameplay, Remedy is really a game meant for the adventure purist. You will find nary a timed or action sequence here. From start to finish, everything is designed with the traditional adventure gamer in mind.
The puzzles are always straightforward in their design. Most of your puzzle solving will be done through various inventory puzzles, as well as a few mechanized obstacles. The puzzles are all pretty easy, and the answers to them are usually fairly obvious--never once in the game did I find myself hitting a wall.
Which leads us to Remedy’s most debilitating flaw--its length. There was much to enjoy in this game, but not very much time to enjoy it. I was able to finish this game in less than three hours. While I would like to think that I am just that brilliantly smart, it is far more likely that the game is just that short.
Despite feeling a little too basic at times, Remedy does have a certain charm to it. You can feel the warmth coming through of something that was created just for the sheer love of it. So I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether the game’s price of $15.00 (American $, including shipping, and available only through the developer's website), is worth the very short playing time. What I will say, however, is that what's offered is done well, and I enjoyed my time spent playing this game. It shows a great deal of promise and I can’t wait to see what Mikael and Eleen have in mind for their next game.