I'm sure my inflammatory subject line will raise the ire of this game's legions of fans. Jenny100 posted a review delving more into the story and technical aspects of the game here,
so if you're looking for some positive remarks you should take at look at that. Because, in my experience, this is one of the top stinkers of all time.
As I wrote in my review of The Riddle of Master Lu
: “What sets apart a good adventure game from a good movie is the interactive experience of solving the puzzles for our character.” And this game has some of the most absurd puzzles I've ever seen.
[I've included an example of one at the end of this review to show the crazy kind of reasoning you'll need for this game. I was hesitant to be actually giving out a puzzle's answer, but I really feel strongly about the ridiculousness of this game's puzzles and I wanted to show anyone considering this game what they'll be in for.] There is an Easy/Medium/Hard setting for puzzles on the Options screen, (but not all puzzles are affected by this). Some puzzles can be bypassed with a cheat (like the two different types of sliders). This should be an immediate red flag: If the game's developers think that you need cheats and difficulty settings to complete their game, then it seems to me that they tried too hard to be “clever” and wound up with a mess.
There are also a lot of arcade/action sequences, taking place in cyberspace. As much as I enjoyed the action/adventure game Realms of the Haunting, I did not enjoy the shooting sequences in Ripper as you usually have to hit a certain spot on a moving body to disable it. The game's developers must have realized these were also too difficult as there are cheats to get past most of these too. Yet another red flag.
At least The Riddle of Master Lu had a great story. Ripper had potential, but it was ultimately a disaster. Far, far too much machismo was being flung around in this game. Almost every person was nasty, mean, and crude, including the reporter you play, Jake Quinlan. (The language in this game, while it fits the theme and characterizations, is VERY rough.) The game's writers must firmly believe in the motto “nice guys finish last” because snarling and threats were the way to advancement in this game. (At one point, if you asked The Falcon's friend, Twig, for help, he turned you down. But if you chose to grab his shirt front and shake him around a bit, then you got the info you needed and could proceed.) The notable exception was the hospital's receptionist, Vivien, who was an outrageous flirt! She was certainly a breath of fresh air and an antidote to the bitterness the other characters were spewing. Even though most everyone in the game would be torture to be stuck in an elevator with, I will say that the acting was very good all around. (The music was also very good, although I really didn't need to hear that Blue Oyster Cult song quite so many times.)
I can't really give away THE end of the game because there are four different endings, each with a different identity for the Ripper. While this excited me before I started the game, I later realized the only way to do this, without major fine-tuning for each possible outcome, was to have a lot of unexplained leads and “clues” that go nowhere. And this is certainly what you get. My game ended with Jake thinking to himself something along the lines of: “I'm sure that somewhere in his/her mind there was a logical explanation for these killings, but I'm not up to pondering the reasoning of a mad(wo)man.” What?! What a super-cheesy cop-out! After all the time invested in the game, we're given no motive for these killings - no explanation why the current string of killings is happening 15 years after the first death. What a major letdown!
There were incredible lapses of realism in the plot (yes, I know this is a game):
*For a long time, Dr. Burton adamantly refuses to follow the usual treatments to help Catherine. But then, out of the blue, she says to Jake and The Falcon, “Oh, you two go ahead and do whatever you want; I'm going to the gym!” (where she stays for a third of the game). She does this even when she later admits that it'll be her fault if Catherine dies. Perhaps the Hippocratic Oath has been rescinded by 2040.
*There is a spare computer on the gym receptionist's desk, facing away from her and freely available to any schmoe walking in off the street, with members' names and addresses, height and weight, and employer's name. Hey stalkers, get your info here!
*It obvious they put a lot of money into the making of the game. Why couldn't they spring for a slightly bigger costume budget? The game takes place over several days, yet no one ever changes their clothes.
*Jake, a reporter, has free rein throughout the police station including watching the interrogation of suspects, stealing a pass card from directly in front of the desk clerk, passing through doors marked “Authorized Personnel Only,” snooping though the files, blackmailing the officer in charge of evidence, and free access to Detective Magnotta's office (and planting a listening device in there). Maybe the Journalist's Code of Ethics has also been repealed. (OK, I really shouldn't blast this aspect as this is typical adventure game behavior.)
*[These “listening devices” are phenomenal! They not only eavesdrop, they transmit pictures, including an opening shot from across the room and switching camera angles between the people in the room, always focusing on whomever's talking. Ain't technology incredible!]
*The weirdest scene was early in the game, visiting the Wofford cottage. After a short (and angry) conversation with Covington Wofford, Jake just starts exploring his home without even asking, snooping through his den and bedroom, all the while Covington stays put in the lab, brandishing a broom as a weapon. You get vacuum tubes (yes, vacuum tubes in 2040) as rewards for solving the puzzles in the cottage, which you then proceed to plug into a device in the lab, all the while Covington stands there watching you, brandishing a broom as a weapon. And then you link into cyberspace using the Wofford's computer, all the while Covington stands there, watching you . . . . . . brandishing a broom as a weapon. Too surreal.
This is a long game with good acting, good music, and nice sets. It's just a shame it was ruined with ridiculous puzzles, sour characters, and a weak script.
Spoiler: What follows is an answer to a puzzle near the beginning of the game. It is the same puzzle I previously groused about on the Discussion Board, and is not one affected by the Easy/Medium/Hard setting:
Here is what you are faced with:
Decipher this to find out a catalog number for a library book. The only hint given is a short list of catalog numbers for other books, and from that you can figure out that the answer should be in this form of letters and numbers:
and that the first two letters are probably HC or HE.
.................OK.................figured it out yet?
The walkthrough explained it thus:
Start with the part inside the brackets.
Ignore everything but the letters
Substitute the first "i" with "eye"
What is the numerical equivalent of "no eye aid"?
The answer is 2020, +1.
The 18 at the end needs to be a letter.
The 18th letter is R.
No other call numbers begin with AB; they all begin with HC or HE.
Try HC (because it starts with AB and C comes next...)
So the answer is:
Yes indeed, AB[@no_iaid+1]18 = HC2021R ! (I did figure out the “R” part!)
You have been warned!