Viktor, a Steampunk Adventure is a classic point-and-click adventure game set in a dystopian animal-people world ruled by a cruel and incompetent Emperor, who seems to be more interested in engaging in yet another war, rather than taking care of his people. The protagonist, a wild boar, had enough with Emperors incompetent ways and sets on a quest to overthrow him.
The game doesn’t take itself too seriously: it’s wacky, it’s totally dumb, its humor is mostly based on how actually not funny it is (think fart jokes with Nicola Tesla) and despite getting nearly everything wrong it still manages to be somewhat enjoyable.
The main spotlight of the game is Viktor. He’s not your typical protagonist: he is rude, he has anger issues (indeed, next to the classical talk, take and describe buttons there is a kick button to relieve the anger) and seems to be the type of people who are completely incompetent at anything yet think they are the best fit for the job, especially if it’s a commanding job. Despite all of this, he is extremely liberal and criticizes the Emperor for not ensuring women have equal rights. I know game creators were going for not-two-dimensional character, but Viktor being a liberal just seems out of character and forced. I think it was a great idea to take such an antihero as a main character, but it’s not executed well: these traits don’t really add anything to the story itself or complicate the journey in any way.
Other characters in the game are extremely primitive. Even the ones based on famous real life (or fiction) people like Franz Kafka, Frankenstein, Nicola Tesla, Dr. Jekyll don’t have much character. The game introduces them, gives them few lines and you’re done with them forever. They do not contribute to the story in any way and are there just for the sake of it.
The game also has a love story. Viktor falls in love with a totally flat zebra character. Needless to say, there is zero chemistry between them, they only shared like couple lines of dialogue together and are suddenly in love because they were on some love roller coaster with decapitated toy panda head. The only thing this love story gives to the game or the story is how out of place it is. With everything being out of place and at random, it’s like a cherry on top of the absurd dumbness.
The story seems to be written by a five year old, but I suppose that was actually the goal here. There is nothing much to say about it, Viktor goes on adventure to overthrow the Emperor, gets his ass kicked, but then meets some anarcho-communists who want Emperor dead as well. Together they develop a plan and on their way they need to complete few tasks, like find money to fund the revolution or how to overcome the powerful electrical force field protecting the Emperor. All the situations are absurd driven and rely heavily on black humor to make it work. The humor is something I could appreciate. While it is as lame as it gets, that is what actually gets it going. It definitely falls into a category “so bad it’s good”. I wouldn’t call it great, but I had few good laughs on my way to the final boss.
While good gameplay and puzzles could make everything else work and even make it a perfect self-ironical-game, it is sadly the weakest point of the steampunk adventure. At it’s core it is your typical point-and-click where you can interact with characters and items around you with few rather small innovations. One of them is the mentioned kick button next to the usual talk, take and describe. The other is your ability to call your your psychic sidekick owl for hints. While this sounds like a good idea to help you when you’re stuck it is actually essential to call him, otherwise nothing would make sense. Not that it does when the owl vaguely explains what to pay attention to, but without his advice you would be totally clueless and would rely on just trying out everything until something works. I found it cheap. Rather than making an environment and puzzles interact with each other to make sense, we need an owl to give some context of what is going on.
Another, rather frustrating, thing is that the game requires you to take certain actions before you can do other things. I’ve particularly noticed this at the end of the game, where two items I knew I needed were inactive until I’ve basically tried everything else, even the things I knew would get me nowhere!
There were few decent puzzles at the game, the best of them being at Frankenstein’s lair, where you need to solve a complex task to eventually get the item you need. However mostly the puzzles are picking correct threads of dialogue bubbles, which in my opinion are not puzzles or even much of a game for that matter. Most stages consist of no more than two rooms you can go to, so there is not much to explore or to get stuck at, so the game is pretty easy.
There are also mini games and I’m usually not a fan of those at all. This time it was no different, I was hoping I could get them in the first try just to get them out of the way. They are easy enough not to bother you, but there is no point in them either.
What really stands out is animation. The game is set in the authoritarian world, much like Soviet Union, and the style is something of the 80’s soviet cartoons. Growing up in post Soviet country, I found the style to capture the mood and atmosphere perfectly. Everything is drawn beautifully with fine details and fits well with absurd dystopian world.
The music is not originally composed for the game and instead classical compositions are used that you can change at any moment as Viktor happens to carry a record player with him. I wouldn’t call lack of original soundtrack a flaw since the music fits quite well with the game, it is not annoying and knowing that the game probably had very small budged, I think creators found a perfect solution. The dialogue bubbles are accompanied with simple mumbling which is different for every character, and that gets annoying quickly. First of all, there is a lot of dialog in the game so you hear the mumbling all the time. That wouldn’t be so bad, actually that alone would be better than just silence, but the mumbling doesn’t fit the text! The tone and the length usually do not match, which is very distracting. For example Viktor, being a rude boar, is usually yelling in the text bubble, but his mumbling is calm and slow.
Surprisingly the game is not as terrible as it might seem. I actually enjoyed playing it and even wanted to finish it. It’s about five hours of gameplay, of what should have been two to three hours maximum. That way it could have been a neat little adventure with unique style and over the top story telling. As it is now, it requires too much time in exchange of how little it delivers. I would only recommend it if you particularly enjoy over the top movies and intentionally lame comedy is your cup of tea and you have nothing better to do for five hours.
Time Played: 2-5 hours