A Golden Wake
When this game was first released, I almost bought it at full price but fortunately decided against it which turned out to be a sensible decision. It’s not a bad game but arguably Wadjet’s weakest title so far even when compared to Blackwell 1-3 and The Shivah which are just as meagre in the gameplay department but have slightly better writing.
A Golden Wake is a passable 3 star game, perhaps 3,5 stars if you like the 1920s Prohibition era setting with jazz, mobsters, real estate boom, illegal alcohol and so on – all the clichés of the genre are duly served, sadly not in a very original manner and without creating the atmosphere a game of this type needs to become a memorable experience.
For a first-time playthrough, you can expect a playtime of around 4 to 5 hours. It took me 5,5 hours including reloading on many occasions to look for alternate solutions and trying out different dialogue options. I can’t recommend the game at $14.99 but if it’s on sale for less than $5, it’s worth picking up if you’re a point & click adventure fan who has already played all the classics and if you want to finally complete your Wadjet collection.
The storyline isn’t badly written but despite several plot twists you’ll most likely not be taken by total surprise at any point, everything has too much of a recognition factor to it to create any sense of excitement. The tone is mostly serious but there was one instance where I had to laugh out loud despite expecting the exact thing that happened. For the most part, there is not much of interest going on and the world building is fairly basic which is a bit of a shame considering the great potential of the setting and the historical characters which could have been given more gravity if the voice acting was more convincing. As usual, the voice actors do an acceptable job but not a great one.
Aside from the first couple Blackwell games, this is Wadjet’s easiest title so far and even beginners should be able to get through this game without needing hints. There are only two puzzles in the game that might confuse someone who has never played an adventure game before, one puzzle involving a bookcase and the other one involving a row of liquor bottles – if you have played many adventure games you’ll instantly know what to do as there are enough hints in the game and the puzzles are almost a carbon copy of puzzles you have encountered in other adventure games.
One can be grateful for the absence of overly convoluted and obtuse puzzles but A Golden Wake takes familiarity a bit too far. Most of the puzzles are too obvious and direct, often of the simple “bring object A to place B” or “go to place B and talk to person X”, variety. This would be dull even for an RPG but in a good point & click adventure a little more complexity is needed, especially if the dialogue and story are as commonplace as they are in A Golden Wake.
For the most part, dialogue choices don’t matter at all except for when you enter persuasion mode (the primary weapon of any real estate agent) in which case you have to pick a precise sequence of answers while using your knowledge of the person you’re talking to and reading their facial expressions. If even one choice is wrong, the dialogue fails and you have to either retry or find an alternate solution to the problem when retrying isn’t possible. Finding the exact sequence of answers sadly comes down more to trial and error than logic, a common problem of many adventure games. The dialogue battles in The Shivah were a lot more fun but the possibility of finding alternate solutions to some of the problems in A Golden Wake is a minor saving grace to an otherwise handicapped and outdated dialogue mechanic. Full list