It’s a very good game that still upholds its quality. This opinion is free of any sentiment or nostalgic influence since now, over 20 years after the game has been released I’ve played it for the first time.
My initial thought: very pixelated and dated graphics; immediately followed by my second thought: strange old fashioned user interface with different buttons for different actions such as pick up, use, inspect, open or push instead of an universal action click like in most point and click adventures.
Very soon I realized that from the perspective of using an inductive way of solving puzzles the UI with different actions is actually superior to the universal click system. It requires more logic to decide precisely what you want to do with an object. And it works like in the real life. For example I can either want to push a closet along the wall or open it, or pick something up from it, or maybe use it (hide in it). Usage of this type of UI is more satisfactory to the gamer and gives more options to the game designers by creating a wider variety for the mechanics of the puzzles.
I haven’t played all the adventure games out there but from the ones that I have played, I think that this one has some of the best puzzles that I have experienced. There are code puzzles, picture clued puzzles, verbal clued puzzles and even sound puzzles. So the puzzle variety here is wide and they are mostly logical. In terms of difficulty it starts at a medium level and sometimes, especially in the later stages, can get to be rather difficult. Some puzzles are also easy so I guess the average would be in the upper middle of the difficulty spectrum.
The story involves a suspenseful investigation of voodoo murders and it’s captivating as well as educational. I have learned a lot about voodoo when playing this game. The game takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana throughout most of it’s duration and there is also a minor traveling motive. The setting creates a good immersion and is also quite unique although some locations could be improved a bit, especially the city square as well as the final location.
The aesthetic side of the game is… well, dated. However I’ve gotten quickly used to the graphics so the pixelation didn’t disturb me throughout the game anymore maybe except for once when I missed a salt bottle laying on the floor. It was the size of around eight pixels and I couldn’t see what it was until Gabriel (the protagonist) investigated it and said that it’s a salt bottle. Aside form the pixelation issue the locations and environments are well done from the artistic point of view. The music as well as the voices are good too. I’ve read some opinions about a silly southern accent but I had no problems with it maybe because I’m neither American or a native English speaker.
This is a serious game with little humor but instead with lot of suspense, thrill and even some drama. Try it if you are looking for a strong detective story or just a very good classic adventure game. Do not try it if you are looking for a comedic game.
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Time Played: Over 20 hours
Aesthetics: 2.5/5 (The anniversary edition should fix what was damaged by the tooth of time.)