Mel Hynes (takhisis) wrote,
Mel Hynes

*mad flailing motions*

I've said it before and I'll say it again: won't some other company please PLEASE take up the mantle of adventure-puzzle games? Now that Lucasarts and Sierra have apparently given up (oh, what I wouldn't give for Monkey Island 5 or Phantasmagoria III!), everything coming out these days is through The Adventure Company. Don't get me wrong, they've had some AWESOME releases, such as Syberia, Post Mortem, Missing: Since January, Evidence, Secret Files: Tunguska, SAM AND MAX: Secret Files. They've also had some good-idea-flawed-execution games (Keepsake, Forever Worlds, Mysterious Journey). Then there are the absolute stinkburgers (everything else). The problem is, since TAC has basically a monopoly on the adventure market, and they aren't exactly discerning, it's hard to find out what's worth playing. I took a risk on "Dracula: Origins" the other day since it was on sale.

Boy, am I sorry.

The plot, where it exists, is half directly lifted from the book (which I expected), one third hackneyed and out of nowhere, and the rest just not there.

The dialogue is often PAINFUL. So far my favorites are "We have already consumed our union!" (me: OM NOM NOM NOM!), and "Gravedigger: I'm almost finished digging this tomb." (me: A. next, are you going to dig a tower? Grave = hole, tomb = structure and B. You're THREE INCHES DEEP. Are you burying a guy run over by a steamroller?!) I half-pray this was originally in another language and they couldn't afford an actual translator so they grabbed the QA guy who had a couple years of English in college.

Speaking of hoping it wasn't originally in English: the face movement vs. dialogue. OY. This makes 70's kung fu movies look synched.

The puzzles... oh, the puzzles. You could use this game as a how-to on How To Piss Off Your Audience. It has ALL the flaws:
- Puzzles that have absolutely no hint or previous reference on how to solve them: slot gems into a carving in a particular color order. No hint other than a black and white drawing. GREAT.
- Puzzles that do not let you be smart. You use two pieces of paper over engraved latin phrases to get letters that correspond to coordinates you need to enter into a dial-based combination lock. But you can't just get the letters, oh no. You have to take the papers back and forth repeatedly so the character can go "Oh." "Hmm." "How interesting." "Oh! Now I get it! I will write this down in my journal!" And only THEN will the safe open with THE EXACT SAME COMBINATION YOU ALREADY HAD ENTERED.
- Again, puzzles that make you "show your work" to an idiotic extent. "Gosh, I have found the vampire's journal that says he intends to use a ritual from a book at a temple in Cairo!" "Where do you think the vampire has gone?" "I do not know! If I only had a MAP OF EUROPE I might get a flash of inspiration!" *cue 10 minutes spent finding a fucking map and clicking the FUCKING cursor on FUCKING Cairo* "Oh! I seem to recall that the fiend mentioned going to Cairo!" NO SHIT, SHERLOCK! Thank god you didn't just let me go to the fucking airport and get a ticket to where MY FUCKING IN GAME NOTES already said he was going, we might have accidentally caught him by now!

Anyway. Usually games either sin in the direction of "not enough clues, leaving you flailing" or "leading you by the hand like Blues Clues." This is the first game I've played that egregiously does BOTH, back and forth.

I'm still going to beat it. Because now it's personal.

J.: What's wrong?
Me: So, I'm in Cairo, which is where?
J.: ...Egypt?
Me: *clicks on area in game*
Van Helsing: "There is no one outside. They must be in siesta!"
Me: Oh, you know, Spain, Egypt, potAYto, poTAHto...

EDIT 2: Okay, they get one-tenth of a point for creative Egyptian insults. "May guardian beetles crawl up his fundament and devour his entrails using a small, rusty spoon!" is officially going in my repertoire.
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