Latest User Reviews

Review of Culpa Innata

Rating by emric posted on May 30, 2012

frustrating & monotonous—yet highly immersive & addictive non-linear experience

Playing Culpa Innata was frustrating & monotonous, but highly immersive & addictive at the same time. i haven't played a game before where i felt these positive and negative effects at the same time so consistently.

The game is set in a Utopian future (2047 AD) where most of the world has joined the 'world union' (kinda like a one-world order thing) and the few areas that haven't (like russia) are called rogue states. you play a world union global peace officer named phoenix wallis who is assigned a case involving the murder of a world union citizen in odessa, russia. the entire game takes place in the world union border city of adrianopolis, where the victim resided.

It's the kind of adventure game which attempts to be as non-linear as possible. there's a time system, so it goes from day to night and your activities take up time. some things can only be done at night and others only in the day, but generally you're able to choose how you fill each day. if you like, you could kill time during the day by going to the gym and submitting meaningless work reports and then sleep early each night—and the story would never progress. but when you do decide to visit people associated with the victim and your case, your questioning will often cause a trigger to take place which may open up new locations or characters for questioning and the game progresses in this fashion.

This is a very different experience to playing a more linear adventure game where your actions are basically pre-scripted and you just have to solve puzzles and explore in order to progress the game story. The game developers of Culpa Innata have much less control over flow and pacing of the story/experience, but the gamer is meant to feel more immersed in the game world. It's reasonably successful in achieving this, but it also gave me a sense of persistent discomfort because I felt like in this system it was also possible that i would miss out on (possibly minor) aspects of the game that would've enhanced the experience.

The game is not always good at prompting for what should be investigated next and is even somewhat ambiguous at times. Especially early on, this led to me not even knowing how to progress the game.

Also, I reckon about 80% of the game involves Phoenix interviewing people. The rules in the World Union state that a Peace Officer cannot take up too much time of any one citizen in a given day. So your questioning is often cut short and then you have to remember to visit this character again the next day to continue. This produces quite a monotonous gaming experience—but it never annoyed me because I found the depth of the characters and world that was being revealed through all this dialogue to be highly fascinating. It's a highly developed and intriguing world which poses some pertinent questions about the direction of our own society.

However, the game mechanics are awful. I found it difficult to just move Phoenix around because of the changing camera angles and the stop-start motion whenever you click a new location for her to move to. A hotspot scanning feature would've been much appreciated, but is strangely absent in this game. The inventory system is a little troublesome, but not the worst around.

The character 3D modeling is very low quality for such a recent game. all the characters look quite ugly. Hair textures are particularly poor.

This game has the worst implementation of antialiasing that I've seen of any recent adventure. I turned antialiasing on and still all of the edges of characters looked extremely jagged.

Otherwise the art direction is somewhat pleasing with all background art being treated with a unique and effective constant shimmery filter.

Music is passable, without being a standout. Voice acting is good quality. They also include a nice feature whereby at night you can choose which outfit (from about 10) Phoenix wears.

The logic programming for this game would've been extremely complex, but I'm glad to say I only came across a small amount of inconsequential bugs.

Culpa Innata is certainly in the longer category of adventure games -- but then the ending seemed to come very suddenly and was poorly implemented. Still, the overall experience was surprisingly captivating and I will certainly play the sequel (if it ever gets released) to see how the story progresses, but also to see how (or if) they adjust the game system.
Time Played: Over 20 hours

Review of Martin Mystère: Operation Dorian Gray

Rating by emric posted on May 30, 2012

i have trouble even thinking of this as a 'game'. avoid it!

this is undoubtedly one of the worst "games" i've ever played. the most fun i had with 'crime stories' was when i could finally click on "uninstall" so that it would no longer be a blight on my hard drive.

it seemed like the developers, Artematica, had gone out of their way to make their game frustrating and un-fun to play. I mean you'd actually have to 'try' to put this many faults in an adventure game:

it has severe pixel hunting issues, it forces your character to walk slowly across screens, the double-click to change screen instantly feature only works in some instances, the inventory only comes up when you click on the 'I' icon twice (?!), the main character is boorish and unlikable, there's no volume control at all, there are so many hotspots in some locations you'd be searching forever to work out what you're meant to be doing, save games are only represented by small screen thumbnails which you can hardly tell apart...

but my favourite is this: the dialogue is presented line by line and the ill-placed breaks are actually present in the vocal delivery (!?)

the entire game reads like a feature-length teleprompter delay gag.

i don't know how this game was ever released. but i feel i've significantly contributed to society if this review discourages even one person from playing 'crime stories' in the future.
Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual

Rating by emric posted on May 30, 2012

decent production values and enjoyable enough, but not overly original or memorable

Polish developer, City Interactive, have done 2 games in their 'Art of Murder' series and now this is the first of 'Chronicles of Mystery'. They seem to churn out their titles pretty fast... which is kinda good and kinda bad. Their games are enjoyable and engaging and flow well and are great visually and the soundtrack and voice acting are also pleasing, but the plots—though well implemented—cover the same ground that's already saturated adventure gaming. So while they are fun as you play them, they won't become memorable additions to the genre overall. The team certainly have some strong development skills, so it'd be nice to see them be a bit more creative in their choice of subject matter in the future. Until then, their games will continue to feel like they've just been churned out of pre-existing formulas.

Having said that, this their third adventure, shows slight improvements over its predecessors. The puzzles here never dwell into illogical or annoying territory which was a minor concern i had with "Art of Murder: Hunt for the Puppeteer". However, like their earlier attempts, "Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual" is still plagued by subtitles occasionally not matching spoken dialogue, a few phrases which don't seem to have been translated well, and an embarrassingly awful translation of the English User Manual.

Nevertheless, I still have some hope remaining for City and will probably continue to play the next additions to their adventure series'.
Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of Broken Sword: The Angel of Death

Rating by emric posted on May 30, 2012

redundant, weak, tired, buggy

this 4th installment of the broken sword series is extremely redundant. the plot is just a weak iteration of the most common stuff you find in the adventure genre. but more particularly, so many of the locations and puzzles are far too reminiscent of the 3rd broken sword game. it really needed more uniqueness just to warrant its existence. the convoluted plot and drab secondary characters are also the worst the series has put forth. the graphics and puzzles are quite ho-hum. also, without trying i uncovered TWO dead-end bugs throughout the game—one of which made it impossible to complete and i had to watch the ending on a youtube video! hopefully these have subsequently been patched but i was... not happy!! on the positive side, the actual dialogue and voice acting were as good as ever.
Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon

Rating by emric posted on May 30, 2012

my favourite of the series, despite the switch to 3D environments

This Broken Sword series seems to just keep getting better. I much prefer hand-painted 2D background art, so i was feeling a bit nervous about the series switching to full 3D environments with this game. but lately I have played a few 3D adventures and found that they've been OK. And this is probably the finest of them so far. It certainly didn't detract from the Broken Sword experience.

At times it felt a bit like Tomb Raider with the crate puzzles and jumping ledges and shimmying against walls. This represents somewhat of a departure from traditional adventure gaming and personally i would've preferred a few less crate puzzles, but it didn't really hinder my enjoyment any. Sneaking past guards got a little tiresome tho.

The humorous character dialogue was in top form. Even better than the previous two games! Because George and Nico were together more often this time, it provided more opportunities for them to trade witty banter ;)

The story was strong and epic. like it's predecessors, you could argue that it borrows too closely from indiana jones. in fact this time around i found some of the ideas and scenarios even more similar. usually i detest this kind of "copying", but for some reason it doesn't bother me with the broken sword games. perhaps it's just that it's been implemented so well or that it's different enough in it's own right or maybe just that such elements have become such a staple of the adventure genre that it doesn't matter so much even if it is a little clichéd.

one thing the broken sword makers do really well, is find just the right balance of puzzle difficulty. you still feel challenged but you never get stuck or bogged down.

next it's on to Broken Sword 4...
Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon

Rating by subbi posted on May 29, 2012

Much better than The Smoking Mirror with spectacular graphics and more physical puzzles. The main drawback is it's heavily reliance on crate moving puzzles.
Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror

Rating by subbi posted on May 29, 2012

A somewhat dissapointing sequel to one of the most classical and epic adventuregames.
The graphics are slightly improved compared to the 1st game and the character shifting is a nice addition to the gameplay.

The story however is much weaker, the characters uninspiring and the puzzles often uninvolving or simply unrelated to the main story.
Time Played: Under 1 hour

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