James Is The Redeeming Feature****
BASED ON DEMO
Based on the intro cut-scene alone, I probably wouldn’t buy this game. Yup, it really is that bad. I played the beta for this, and assumed that the appallingly poor quality of graphics was because it was the rough draft. I can’t believe Elephant of all people would allow so many errors and sloppy editing to go through!
Add to that my general dislike for steam punk and mechanised puppets, this game really started off badly for me. It improves. But not as much as I’d have liked. The biggest redeeming feature is James, our intelligent and attractive (at some angles) detective friend. Better looking than M. Dupin, he has a lovely speaking voice, he is more affectionate (he calls us dear, hope that won’t make the male players feel too uncomfortable!), and, unlike Dupin, he is not shy – there is a wallpaper featuring him!
SIGHTS & SOUNDS
After the shocking intro, the graphics settled down to be only truly amazing again *wink*. It doesn’t matter how many of these games I see, every time I see this level of visual quality I am floored again. It is magic! The images of James are inconsistent, and he looks completely different depending on the angle, but otherwise the art is superb.
The music really, really annoyed me. It is dramatic and interesting, yes, but too much so, and I usually like interesting music. Ambience was nothing special, but the voice work was excellently done.
Inventor/mechanic Abraham Shadowy (yeah, I know) takes over a supposedly haunted hotel, to much controversy, but soon asks our detective friend James for help, because his guests start going missing. Yet, on arrival, he is not there to meet us, and when we find our own way in, he announces that James was invited, but his assistant (us) wasn’t! Huh! I suspect his motives. Could it be he hoped to lure James here under false pretences?
Was that the allegedly missing scientist Shadowy just dragged through into the secret room? And why exactly are we NOT following? There are some great creepy moments in this one, and even this early there are scenes I just love to look at. Knives defying gravity in the dining room? THAT’S not my imagination!
The gameplay is stock standard. HOPs with interactive word lists, beautifully done, but no variety there. The puzzles are also very cleverly and attractively woven into the story, but are not original in concept. There is a notebook, task list, interactive jump map, and teleporting hint. There are 3 levels of difficult but no custom options. You have a tiny mechanised scarab beetle to get into tricky places. None of this is going to jump out at you and say “Wow!”
The bling! also doesn’t scream fantastic either, and is a little disappointing compared to Elephant’s usual. We have gallery items of course: wallpapers x 9, concept art x 9, music x 4, screensaver x 1.
There are only about 9 achievements – performance based. And about the same number of collectible Egyptian canubic jars. Again, nothing much, unless I missed a set of morphing objects or something.
This is still an above average game, so it gets its four stars, but it is not the game I expected it to be.
I recommend this game!