Adventure Gamers Awards
The Adam’s Venture trilogy comes to a close with its final instalment, Revelations, which includes both an origin story of sorts and the conclusion of Adam’s and Evelyn’s adventure. The first half focuses intently on building a welcome backstory through flashback, while the latter half unfortunately wraps up in far too much of a hurry, filling the gaps with repetitive puzzles through a tight linear path along the way.
Revelations picks up directly from the close of the last episode, with Adam left for dead, lying in a heap on the floor. Your vision blurs and you black out before “waking” in an Oxford library alongside your father two years earlier. As you retrace these memories, you’ll aid your father in uncovering cryptic secrets about the Book of Genesis, meet Evelyn and professor Saint-Omair (familiar from Episode 1) for the first time, fix rooftop windmills in the French city of Luz, and investigate a Templar Church. Adam, Evelyn and Saint-Omair together unravel the story that ultimately leads to discovering the Clairveaux Corporation.
From there you’ll promptly jump back to present day. With the importance of his adventure and the commitment he made to protect Evelyn fresh in his mind, Adam jumps to his feet to delve deeper into Solomon’s temple in pursuit of Evelyn’s kidnapper and the masterminds behind the Clairveaux Corporation. He plans to throw a spanner in their operation and end their quest for power once and for all, though this really doesn’t amount to much besides solving one poorly integrated puzzle after another.
Adding background to the first two episodes is certainly beneficial, but it’s unfortunate that so much of this episode focuses on the past. By leaving so little time to resolve things in the present, there’s almost none left to bring closure to the series as a whole, with a conclusion that wraps up in no time at all. The final cinematic arrives abruptly, and even it is quickly interrupted by the credit roll. Of course, part of the problem is the length of the episode itself. At around 2-3 hours of gameplay in total, there just isn’t enough time to do justice to both time periods.
The bulk of the game is spent in conversation and puzzle solving, with little time lost to actual exploration. Whilst you do travel across the globe through several distinct locations, your hand is always held tightly as you’re guided along an extremely linear path from one puzzle to the next. There are moments where you’re begging to explore the world around you, such as a dilapidated house in the countryside where you’re required to find tools to repair a car. But even then, the tools are acquired in the easiest and most convenient manner possible, making it hardly worth the trouble. While a certain degree of guidance is appreciated, this much channeling really throttles any sense of adventure, which is surprising for a series that gives its protagonist more physical abilities than most.
This physical prowess grants Adam the freedom to jump, crawl, shimmy and climb his way through the various environments, although here it’s typically limited to the occasional narrow passageway that requires you to bend down or a clearly defined hanging ledge that you can clutch onto with a little hop. Whilst it’s a nice change of pace, the tight alleyways and distant fixed camera angles result in straightforward pseudo-platform sequences that rarely involve anything more than pressing the right key at obviously places in corridors. With little room for danger you never feel hindered by the keyboard or gamepad controls, so it’s a casual, friendly bit of spice between puzzles, but for some reason it’s been scaled back nearly to the point of irrelevance just when the series should be reaching its dramatic conclusion.
The new episode boasts 25 new challenging puzzles, but I’d cut that number in half, as many puzzle variants are repeated mere steps from one another, especially in the later stages of the game. Some puzzles require careful observation of clues around you, but the majority of puzzles are standalone logic challenges, such as fixing an engine by arranging wired tiles or navigating a math circuit by finding the correct path to equal a certain total. The far more interesting challenges come from the few large environmental puzzles, particularly a late obstacle that requires you to trigger pressure plates in a maze to alternate locked gates in order to find a path through (though this is far more interesting the first time than the third in quick succession). Once understood, the puzzles are generally straightforward to solve, but the lack of initial instruction or any feedback whatsoever can often leave you bewildered. One such puzzle I still have no idea how to actually solve, as I had no choice but to brute force my way through each and every time I encountered it, and another requires at least at a decent ear for musical tones even after you’re pieced together the overly cryptic (and hidden) clue provided.
Running on the Unreal 3 engine like its predecessors, Revelations continues to impress visually, particularly with the addition of weather effects to enhance the already detailed environments. Unfortunately, animation has taken a back seat once again, as it's frequently choppy and doesn’t always display in unison with the performed action, whether it’s opening a door whilst facing the wrong direction or magically finishing a jump somewhere other than where you would naturally have landed. The same animation weakness is noticeable in character lip syncing and expression, often resulting in expressionless zombies staring eerily at the camera.
This visual failing is compounded by occasionally weak voice acting, from the forced over-enthusiasm of Saint-Omair to the detached indifference of Adam’s glib dialogue, resulting in characters that are hard to relate to. The worst disconnect comes from Adam’s persistent attempts at humour, with wisecracks that make him come across as an unintelligent oaf, often leaving you embarrassed for him instead of seeing him as the lovable rogue he’s obviously intended to be. Thankfully, the soundscape outside of the voice work is very good, with fitting orchestral background music accompanying the subtle sound effects like rainfall or the pitter patter of feet over varied terrain.
With this third instalment wrapping up the Adam’s Venture series, it’s a shame that whilst Vertigo Games have managed to add a welcome layer of backstory lacking in the first two episodes, they’ve been unable to equal the previous games in terms of compelling puzzles or even a reasonable sense of exploration. And with such a disappointingly rushed finale, what once seemed like such a promising trilogy building towards a grand climax ends up going out with something of a whimper rather than a bang. Revelations is still a worthwhile investment for a puzzling couple of hours if you’ve followed the series so far, but in becoming such a repetitive, straightforward adventure that ends far too abruptly, the series ultimately falls short of its own jump and reach.