Quiero Morir (I Want To Die) review
Every once in a while there is a game that I burn to play, something that kick starts my brain and gets me thinking "I am going to enjoy this." Sometimes this sudden burst is created by amazingly beautiful visuals, or comes from a well established game maker, yet the latest game to have this effect on me has been made by a developer I had not even heard of, going by the name of Akkad Estudios.
However, what first grabbed me about this game and said "Yo! We gots to get on this!" (because my brain is in fact a black guy from the ghetto) was the simple yet attention grabbing title of Quiero Morir, or translated into English, I Want to Die. Instantly I wanted to know more about such a title. Who wants to die? Why do they want to die? Will this game be able live up to such an impressive title?
I found Quiero Morir on the AGS forums and began downloading immediately, and then went back to read what the game was actually about. You play as Max, a V-2000 robot, with the unusual ability to feel, thanks to his creator Dr Polansk. Unfortunately, although originally enjoying happiness and the wide variety of other emotions, Max's emotional capacity has lately become stunted. Reduced to only pain, suffering and misery, and having just crash landed on Planet Dusk armed only with his computer's map, Max is on a quest to find his creator and share his pain before terminating himself.
After booting up the game I was instantly enthralled. The sparse landscape and ambient soundtrack created such a feeling of desperation and desolation that it made me feel for Max's plight immediately. The cold, lonely beaches, the vast deserts and the inviting yet ultimately lifeless forests all reinforce the ever present feel of Max's loneliness. The backgrounds in this game are very easy on the eyes, as the cleverly blended mix of 2D and pre-rendered 3D provides a very smooth look. There is much effort to make each setting as different as possible, although at some points they appear a tad repetitive. Akkad has not only created a series of backgrounds, but a true world, with different areas of the map presenting a nice variety of landscapes, from a lava area to icy peaks to lush greenery, and finally to the completely inorganic nature of TechnoCity. One problem that does present itself is the sprites. Since most come from a free resource pool of pre-made sprites, they not only are recognizable from other Underground games, they also clash with the backgrounds.
Thankfully, these characters are saved by their natural sounding dialogue. They all seem to be unique characters despite their generic appearance, such as the alien merchant who is distrustful of foreigners and won't trade with you unless you prove you're a native, or the robot who has taken after his creator and become a scientist himself, in the process trapping himself in a force field. Max himself is somewhat reminiscent of Marvin from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in his temperament, yet while Marvin would take every opportunity to tell everyone just how depressed he was, Max has a cold, calculated contempt for most things around him, and manages to put up a facade of being an unfeeling robot so as to deal with most situations.
At this point I will mention that throughout the game, there are moments of poor translation and spelling, and in a dialogue-heavy game this can be a problem. Considering English is the writer's second language, however, the translation holds up pretty well and the writing itself is hauntingly reminiscent of Harlan Ellison in its coldness.
Because of his experiments, such as the one leading to Max's creation, Dr Polansk has been exiled by those opposed to his ideas and methods. The game is very story driven, requiring you to glean information from every inhabitant of Planet Dusk about where Dr Polansk is, and how you can find him. Although some characters know little, combining all the information together allows you to rather easily follow the Doctor's trail.
The point-and-click mechanics are simple, containing the usual walk, talk, look and use icons at the bottom of the screen, as well as a briefcase which opens the inventory. Although a briefcase containing items makes sense, in the case of a robot from the future the icon seems a bit out of place. The inventory opens along the top of the screen, and can be closed to show a bit more of the background, and although this isn't needed as nothing is ever hidden behind there, it is nice to have the option. As with most Underground games, the interface is overall nothing revolutionary, but effective in its implementation.
The puzzles largely rely on using your inventory with elements on the screen. They are usually logical and encourage you to explore your landscape, as there are no useless areas. Sometimes a puzzle is poorly clued, leaving the player to use every item with everything on screen to progress the game. This can lead to feeling helpless at times, but these moments come rarely, allowing a quick return to the game's generally easy and reasonable puzzles.
Another small hitch is the occasional pixel hunting. Finding the right place to exit the screen can create a little frustration, and sometimes spotting a required object blended into the backgrounds becomes a game of chance. For example, in one scene you can pick a piece of fruit off a tree, but I could barely spot the fruit, let alone find the tiny hotspot with my mouse, and ended up slowly scrolling my cursor across the general area until it turned up.
Despite its few flaws, Quiero Morir is quite an enjoyable experience, providing a few good hours of play. Max may not have been capable of enjoying himself, but I certainly was, and working my way through the world of Planet Dusk to find Dr Polansk was both fun and rewarding, thanks to the game's rather intriguing ending, brilliant atmosphere and engaging storyline. It is definitely deserving of its attention grabbing title, and I hope to see more games from Akkad in the future.
You can click here to download the 18 MB English version of Quiero Morir.