Still, The Story Disorients Me! ****
BASED ON DEMO
I thought, after the disappointing story treatment in the 2nd of this series, Meteorite, that at least this (presumably final) game would explain all. So far, I’m just more confused.
SIGHTS & SOUNDS
Excellent graphics. The cut scenes are particularly good. The intro is laid back because it is telling you the back story rather than introducing this game (and there’s confusion in there right away – who are we playing?), but it looks great and the voiceover of the narrator is one of the most natural I’ve ever heard. The characters are drawn spectacularly well. Really impressive.
Later into the game, the graininess of much of the textures – an artistic choice, not poor definition – makes what could be gorgeous become ugly in my eyes. But, HOP scenes are clear and very detailed. Although, some of the items are a bit small, and others are out of perspective. Music is light and pleasant, ambient sounds so far, very pretty. The other characters’ voices are all good too, and lip synched. One weird thing. This is first person, so we see out of the eyes of the protagonist, yet in a conversation with other characters, we can see ourselves.
Well, I don’t know if being familiar with the previous games is a help or a hindrance in this one, because I’m not getting it very clearly. In the first game, we played Monica, whose parents left her at age 5, along with an ancient pendant, on the mainland while her mother, Eve, conducted a dangerous experiment that involved a strange substance – cyan plasma. Twenty years later, she is persuaded to visit the abandoned city where her parents apparently died. She meets a stranger who ‘explains’ the situation to her.
In the second we play Daniel, whose parents dropped him at age 5 on a friend’s doorstep, with a note and map, and he too was induced to return to the island at age 25, where he meets a small girl, Gloria, who ‘explains’ a totally different backstory that involves cyan plasma. Finally, in this story we play Sasha, whose parents were hit by lightning when she was, you guessed it 5, and again, she had one thing from her parents. A golden homunculus (a kind of cross between a compass and a human figure). Twenty years later, she starts having nightmares about terrifying blue ‘stuff’ and follows the directions of the homunculus to a ‘restricted zone’ contaminated by cyan plasma. There she meets Daniel.
So, are the stories connected or not, apart from the big bad blue, cyan plasma? And this really annoys me. We have been given no explanation for our nightmare, so how do we know what Daniel is talking about when he mentions cyan plasma? And how do we know to ask about “a disease that covers skin in a blue net”? That isn’t what we see in our dream! Argh!
The emphasis in this game is on the quest side of things, and although there are both HOPs and other mini-games, it is mostly about getting around and finding what you need to help you on your way. “Quest Items” are actually one of the achievements. Unfortunately, I don’t know the difference between a quest item and any other item needed for inventory. There is a well-drawn, though boring, interactive jump map that highlights active zones, a directional hint, a fun to look at journal that keeps a detailed record of the story and replayable videos, and a task list. All the better for you to be upon your way.
You also have the homunculus, which protects you from the big bad blue, but needs to be recharged after each use. It clears the way for a HOP scene. These are new and different, although similar to the HOPs in this series. Once the mist has cleared, the homunculus detects activity, and presents you with an interactive word list of items in the scene. There is also a blue ‘hot spot’. Clicking on it will take you a different time but the same place (same scene, just looks different), and there you will find a totally different list. Both must be finished to get your inventory piece.
There are few puzzles/mini-games, and I found the ones in the demo easy.
Achievements, as mentioned. There are performance based, and while there is only 7 of them, they are graded with different levels, and are not all the usual ones. There are 35 collectible blue canisters. Easily recognisable, but not always easy to see.
The gallery items include (good) wallpapers (9), concept art (9), and music (5). The SG shows 5 chapters plus the bonus. The demo covered all of one and most of chapter 2, at best guess.
If it wasn’t for the story confusion, this game would almost certainly get a 5 from me. I love the characters, they are just beautiful. I love that there is not so much emphasis on puzzles, because they’re my weak spot. But I’m doing it all in such confusion, it takes a lot of the fun out of it. For those like me who are looking for a story-driven game that looks good and isn’t too, too difficult, this game will present a conundrum. (Well, you gotta admit it sounds like it belongs in an article with homunculus in it!
I recommend this game!