<span class="bold">Moebius: Empire Rising</span>
I guess it's official: modern adventure games are not for me. In case you wonder, I don't mean adventure games released in the last few years: I quite enjoyed the Deponia
and The Book of Unwritten Tales
series, Anna's Quest
, or Fran Bow
, to name a few. No, I mean this kind of adventure games where the narrative and 'conceptual puzzles' take precedence over inventory, objects and interactive hotspots. Don't get me wrong, I do really enjoy purely narrative games
, but I don't tend to react well to half measures.
And to me, Moebius: Empire Rising
felt like a wishy-washy attempt to combine classic object-based puzzles with other types of challenges. Since the main protagonist is a weird guy with eidetic memory and an almost supernatural intuition, some of these alternative puzzles
consist in deducing the traits and motivations of the NPCs he meets (not unlike Hercule Poirot's "grey cells" puzzles in Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders
), even before talking to them. And then there's another type which involves some sort of pattern matching
, but I'm not gonna explain it in further detail in order to avoid spoilers. In and of themselves these challenges/puzzles/whatever are interesting enough (though they either become tedious pretty quickly or feel like "guess what the devs were thinking" contests, as many options seem equally plausible but only one of them is true
), but the other more traditional puzzles feel like an afterthought in comparison, and they in general are almost insultingly easy. Now, I must confess I had never played a game by Jane Jensen before, so I don't really know whether this has always been her style or not, but I seriously doubt the Gabriel Knight
games are like this.
There's one particular thing about this game that seems to annoy many reviewers, but I found quite neat myself: at first, the protagonist refuses to pick up any object unless he has already identified a use for it. After playing uncountable adventures with characters only one step away from developing a full Diogenes syndrome, I appreciated this little realist touch. But here's where this game's half-hearted nature strikes again, as halfway through the game the protagonist just forgets about this principle of his and starts taking everything he cames across. Oh, well...
More on the technical side, I'm pretty sure most of you are aware of the horrible and grotesque character animations featured in this game. They are SO BAD, that they became the main source of the amusement (when not open laughter) I drew from it. But it's a real pity, because otherwise the 3D-rendered character models and the 2D handpainted backgrounds fit perfectly together... with the strange exception of the horribly pixelated background in Cairo (see attached screenshot). Makes me wonder if they perhaps forgot to replace a temporal concept art with an enhanced HD version, and the former made it into the final version of the game...
The story is also a mixed bag. The main plot revolves around a ludicrous """scientifical""" theory, but it's exposed in a thriller/suspense fashion that managed to grip me for a good while. But it all falls apart when the big mystery is revealed too early and the game only drags from that point on: plot-wise, but also gameplay-wise, culminating in a completely dull and uninspired final chapter.
So yeah, I'm glad I got it for real cheap during GOG's last Summer Sale, because otherwise it wouldn't feel worth of its price. Well, at least it made laugh quite a lot, although probably not at the times and situations the devs expected me to do it. My list of finished games in 2016