The odyssey with point and clicky adventure games continues. There was a short detour to crime investigation gameplay with Unsolved Crimes, which was a nice piece of distraction for a couple of weeks worth of lunch hours. The idea is that you are a murder detective in the 70’s, you go and inspect murder scenes and piece together the case. The murder scenes are done nicely in 3D, you can wander around, peek under beds and so on. A bit clunky, but overall rather neat. The actual figuring out is done with questionnaires, which chart your understanding of the case. At times you got a multiple choice question, where the answer was usually pretty self evident and at times you had to answer either with a piece of evidence, a statement from a suspect or an element of the crime scene. Most of these were also pretty easy to figure out.
The game had potential for quite a lot, but somehow it ended up being a rather soulless click through. First of all you couldn’t interview the suspects and their statements just appeared in their profiles. Because of this the suspects didn’t really have that much personality, and neither unfortunately did the other characters you met during the game. Secondly, the cases were a bit too straightforward. Maybe I’m spoiled by Ace Attorney -games, because I kept waiting for a surprising twist at least on some point. There was no sense of drama at all, not even in the very loose story arc, that felt rather tacked on. The worst problem with Unsolved Crimes is that the game was too easy, since at times it practically gave away the puzzles. Whenever something felt like it wasn’t completely self evident, the last line of dialog was invariably on the lines of “Hmm, I guess WE’D BETTER LOOK AT THAT TABLE” and poof went the sense of figuring things out.
Nevertheless, Unsolved Crimes is an ok game for killing time and I’d consider it worth the money, if you set your expectations right.
Syberia DS, on the other hand…
When I noticed that Syberia, which I had missed the first time around, was available for DS, I didn’t even check the reviews but just blindly ordered it. Today I played it for the first time and boy, talk about ambivalent feelings…
Playing Syberia DS felt like eating a really, really good cake using a bowling pin for a spoon. For the first time ever the atmosphere of the game was so strong that the restaurant just vanished from around me. After a while I also had the life time first for wanting to throw my DS at a wall. I’ve never ever played a DS game where the UI and gameplay has sucked this horribly.
You have no idea where the hotpoints or the exits are. You can in theory hunt them with a very clumsy “look”-tool, but it doesn’t react to all of them, so you’ll just have to click and walk around the screen and hope you’ll get lucky with the pixel hunt. The character moves reeeeally slowly and you guessed it – you can’t just double click an exit to go somewhere, but you’ll have to watch Kate mosey over screen after screen. You don’t get any kind of warning when someone gives you an item, you’ll just have to realise to check your inventory. The game is controlled completely with touch screen and there are a couple of gesture based things, like pulling down a lever. If you do it 12 times, you might succeed in it.
If you are a person like me who reads reviews and thinks “ok well, they complain about these things, but they don’t really sound that bad and I’m not generally bothered by a bit of clumsiness” take note – this time the warnings are worth obeying. The Metacritic score of 52 is deserved and if I was reviewing this professionally, I’d give this 4 on a scale of 4-10, with a note that the reason for the score is the totally fucked up user interface, which makes the game borderline unplayable.
Avoid Syberia DS at any cost. Buy it on PC.