Adventure Gamers Awards
After reigning over his land for many years and basking in the glory of outrageous riches and power, the vertically-challenged Ceville has finally been forced out of his castle for his debut adventure, and it’s a good thing for everyone that he has. For Ceville, it means a new opportunity to mischievously humiliate and degrade his former subjects in a bid to regain the throne (all the while having a laugh). For gamers, the appropriately-named Ceville offers a conventional but pleasing blend of comedy, adventure, and just plain fun.
Ceville is set in the land of Faeryanis, a fantasy kingdom long ruled by the greedy little tyrant. He has run the country with a firm hand on law and order as a self-described “undemocratically elected despot”. Inconveniently for Ceville, however, regime change is in the air. The tale begins as Ceville is dispensing “justice” in his own inimitable way. Suddenly, he is interrupted by two of his guards, who announce that Ceville has been removed as king by the citizens of Faeryanis. His replacement is his former confidant Basilius, who plans to rule with an even greater authoritarian hand than Ceville. Naturally, this is not welcome news for a maniacal dictator with a Napoleon complex, so players must embark on the quest to replace him rightfully (or wrongfully) back on the throne.
At the start of the game, the player assumes control of Ceville, doing everything possible to stay out of the clutches of the public mob set to oust him from power. But while Ceville’s list of enemies proves to be taller than the floor-to-ceiling statue of himself that adorns his throne room, he is not forced to make his trek alone. Aiding him is Lilly, a clever, somewhat naïve little girl from Faeryanis who believes Ceville can be reformed and restored to the throne as a compassionate ruler. Players will control a third playable character, Ambrosius, a rather pompous paladin whose opinion of himself far outweighs his actual abilities, for a short time as well. However, the vast majority of time is spent playing as Ceville and Lilly, sometimes simultaneously.
When involved in an adventure with two characters virtually glued at the hip, it is critical that the personalities complement one another. Fortunately, Ceville succeeds in this regard, as the titular anti-hero provides the comic relief with his naughty nature and sly comments, while Lilly displays her compassionate streak and extreme tolerance for Ceville’s self-serving remarks and behavior. Together they have terrific chemistry, and the duo must work together to solve puzzles at times, utilizing each other’s strengths as they explore the lands in and around Faeryanis.
While Ceville certainly offers a different take on the good-guy/bad-guy routine (restoring the evil dictator back on the throne from the even more evil dictator), overall the story is pretty straightforward. Ceville and Lilly find themselves moving through fairly traditional fantasy locations, from the castle’s torture room to dwarf mines to an elven forest, where they encounter a fair number of intentionally silly obstacles in their dealings with fairies, goblins and demons, not to mention the figurative monster of political bureaucracy. Along the way, they’ll meet a wide array of interesting characters, including a chain-smoking black knight, an ex-pirate captain, an environmental-activist elf, and a cat with a black eye patch.
The humor in Ceville stems in part from the title character’s smart remarks and the clever repartee with his young sidekick. However, the supporting characters contribute to the funny dialogue as well, like the two soldiers standing guard at the city gates of Faeryanis – one tall and bulgingly fat, the other short and squat – constantly insulting one another to pass the time. But the comedy also stems from the situational humor, such as when Ceville and Lilly find an elf chained to a tree with a dwarf in a suit operating a tree saw. There are lots of little moments like these, and while Ceville can’t really be characterized as laugh-out-loud funny for the most part, it does succeed in keeping a constant grin on your face while you play.
The game plays like a traditional point-and-click, third-person adventure, with no real interface surprises. Left and right clicks perform all major functions, and the inventory is always visible onscreen for easy access. A quick travel map is introduced at one point, which cuts down on backtracking time, but you’ll want to spend at least a little time watching the stubby-legged Ceville totter around at his double-click run speed, as his gait is truly comical. The only real difference from most adventures is the ability to control multiple characters, though even here, Ceville makes no attempt to reinvent the wheel. It is easy to switch instantly between playable protagonists by simply clicking on their portraits.
The game also includes the welcome hotspot highlight feature, which definitely comes in handy at times. The problem isn’t that objects are hard to see, but the moving camera angles can make it difficult to distinguish one interactive item from another. You may think you’ve pinpointed all the hotspots available, not realizing that you’ve missed something until the screen shifts after moving the character. There were even times when I had to finesse the cursor around an area on the screen in order to pick up an object, even when I knew exactly what I wanted and where it was positioned. It’s not a huge problem, but without resorting to the highlight option, you may find yourself sweeping the cursor in a meticulous fashion, like a metal detector over a portion of land in order to find relevant objects.Continued on the next page...