Dead Reefs

Posted by: bigmamma1

Dead Reefs - 08/30/08 04:53 PM

Ever since seeing the beautiful screen shots when the game first came out, it was on my BAAG list, so I was very happy when it appeared in the 5 game "Adventure Collection". Yes, I did read all the many comments about the horrible game controls, but decided to press on anyway.

First of all,I liked the story-it takes place in 1727 on a darkly mysterious island called "Dead Reefs", so named because 100 years ago pirates would use a light to lure ships onto the jagged rocks so they could loot their cargo.You play as Amadey Finvenero", an investigator sent by the British Crown to look into a possible murder. The son of Sir Arthur Wyndham has been evidently thrown off a high cliff.

Your investigation takes you to many varied locations around the island-the scary cliff where the pirates had their lookout, the stately but slightly sinister and creaky Wyndham manor house,a family cemetary, the town, the docks, an old wooden ship,the quirky home of a strange inventor,and a beautiful forest.You also begin to unravel another mystery- a terrible curse that has been put on the island that has left the natives terrified.

You need to interview a variety of inhabitants-some will talk to you and some will tell you to get lost. Some will only talk after you have accomplished certain things.There's the butler, of course and the Baron find The caretaker of the old cemetary and an old witch who lives there and eventually you meet the brother of the man who was found dead.There's the laundress and the cook to interview, as well as the tavern keeper. I felt that the characters were well done and convincing, with appropriate accents and speech patterns for the 1700's(I think-having never been in the 1700's). Some may find the speech a bit formal and stiff, but after all,things were more formal at that time.Anyway, they didn't talk as though they grew up watching movies.

The artwork for the locations was outstanding, comparable to the Syberia games, I thought. Muted colors, suitable to the dark, mysterious mood of the story, but with great attention to detail-such as birds that surprised you as they suddenly flew up as you approached. Leaves floated down or blew around. Gravel crunched under foot, or soft grass swished as you walked.The music was great-haunting piano sounds accompanying you as you explore dark passageways and cobwebby rooms.Ocean sounds of waves breaking and lapping against a ship's hull play a part too.

Now-for the interface: You interact with the game as follows: with the inventory, which is accessed by the "down" key but scrolled thru with A or D keys-a little awkward, I thought. Cues to talk or do something appear in lower left screen and you use right and left arrows. A nice feature is the notebook (N key), which keeps track of important developments and gives clues about what to do next-very helpful. You also have access to a collection of documents(Q key) picked up along the way that contain clues to certain puzzles. So far, so good-these all worked fine after getting familiar with them.

For the most part the puzzles are varied and logical and relevant to the game. Some inventory based, two mazes(fairly easy), one musical note recoginition.There are a couple of places where you have to act quickly or be killed, so make sure to save when things look iffy.At the end of the game there is one place where the clue dosn't match the solution-thanks to MaG's walkthrough I got past this problem.

Now for the hard part-moving your character around:Forget about getting there fast by running-this caused him to be completely uncontollable and unstoppable unless he ran into a wall. So you must press "Shift" to walk most of the time and this is only a little better. After much practice, you learn to tap the keys slightly to move short distances or turn. ( WSAD keys for this, but the S key makes him turn 180 degrees, not go backwards).At times, the game dosn't respond so you find yourself tapping the direction key over and over, the eventually the character turns around and around and around, ect. depending on how many times you tap!AAARGH!Toward the end of the game I was pulling my hair out from sheer frustration.It was only from sheer determination and stubborness that I was able to get past the 2 times where you have to act quickly or be killed.(With the awkward controls ther is no such thing as "quickly"!) My strategy was to do several practice runs to rehearse the precise movements before triggering the action sequence-that worked pretty well.

Now the big question: Is this game worth playing in spite of the nightmare controls? It depends on your frustration tolerance level. Don't expect this game to be anything like the movement controls of any game you've played-it has movements all its own!If you have enough patience to figure out what works best to get you through the game, you can enjoy a good story, interesting characters, nice music and beautiful graphics.If you can't stand any frustration or annoying moments,don't bother-there are too many great games out there with smooth controls!I for one will thoroughly enjoy my next game, which I'm sure will have normal controls, where you can actually steer around obsticles instead of bumping into them!

My rating for this one: thumbsupfor the story, graphics and music. smashpc insanefor the movement controls

Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Dead Reefs - 08/30/08 05:20 PM

thanks Bigmamma

Great review! So the question is, are you glad you played it in spite of the challenging controls?
Posted by: Volkana

Re: Dead Reefs - 08/30/08 06:19 PM

Thank you bigmamma for the most detailed review you offered to us. I confess i couldn't get along with the nightmare controls but i'm glad you did it. Good for you

Posted by: Marian

Re: Dead Reefs - 08/30/08 06:49 PM

I'm just finishing up the game now and I enjoyed reading the review. smile I can honestly say that after about an hour the controls for this game became relatively intuitive for me; this may be from my past experience of having played other games that did not fall under the category of an adventure game (and I had also played and liked Arthur's Knights, which was also keyboard controlled). I can understand that for someone who has only ever point and clicked, that the brain might have a lot more difficulty retraining for this game; I'm just saying that personally I had no problem with it and didn't dislike it; in fact, I rather liked it. grin

I, too, thought the game had great atmosphere, an interesting plot, and overall that it was well worth my time. And the music was wonderful!

Thank you for the review, bigmamma. thumbsup
Posted by: bigmamma1

Re: Dead Reefs - 08/30/08 09:32 PM

wave Loony,Volkana,Marion-
I'm glad I played to the finish and felt it was worth the effort. I don't think I would ever replay it though.

I have to say it might have been a little easier for me as I have played some RPG and action games that are keyboard controlled. However, if I remember correctly, you can also steer with the mouse as you go along, turning corners and going around things. The problem with Dead Reefs was lack of ability to change direction while moving, which made it very cumbersome and awkward. You sort of had to point in the direction of where you wanted to go while standing still( which often the camera angle wouldn't let you see)and hope for the best.
Posted by: oldmariner

Re: Dead Reefs - 08/31/08 11:17 PM


Excellent review bravo
I have to say I agreed with everything you said. As I compare one adventure game to another I concluded those frustrating controls kept this game from joining the top shelf of games. Everything in this game was well done and in spite of the controls it is well worth playing.
Posted by: Mad

Re: Dead Reefs - 09/01/08 03:26 PM

Hi smile

I haven't yet plucked up the courage to play this game - after reading about the frustrating controls from so many people scared

But all the same, it DOES sound like a game which could well be worth making an effort wink

Thanks for your excellent review, bigmamma1 !!


Mad wave
Posted by: Tomer

Re: Dead Reefs - 09/01/08 07:17 PM

Thanks for the review. I agree that the game is worth playing albeit it's controls, though controls were never really a problem of mine.

One thing though: I'm getting tired of how easily characters are recieving the fact that they just stumbled upon a ghost.
First in the lost crown, now here.
I'm sorry, if I walked in an old haunted mansion and a ghost would suddenly apear, I would totally freak out, run out of there, and I dunno, call someone. The game needs to have a *really good motive* for the character to keep chasing the ghost he just stumbled unto (while a minute before he still doubted their existence!).
That's one of other features I found in this game, that kinda ruined it for me. It's not that I need everything to be realistic, not at all. But when a game tries to build an authentic atmosphere, and authentic characters to go with it, things like that just ruin the outcome. (for me)
The text and dialouge are sooooo important - probably more than the voice acting itself. While it was much better written than in the lost crown, it was still far from being as deep as I require such a work to be.
Posted by: nickie

Re: Dead Reefs - 09/02/08 01:17 AM

Great review Bigmamma! I agree that this was a superb game, awkward controls or not.
Tomer, not everyone has the same reaction to spirits, so definitions of "realistic" vary. Frankly I'm thrilled to see less fear based Hollywood reactions in games.
Posted by: Tomer

Re: Dead Reefs - 09/02/08 05:53 AM

"fear based hollywood reactions"?
That's the last thing I want. But I cannot think of anyone who'd just "accept" the presence of ghosts that easily.
Look, the guy (forgot his name) wrote in his diary that the mansion can't be haunted, and that all the noises are probably wind and I don't know what. Next thing you know, he sees a ghost sitting on a chair and calling his name. First of all, the whole "flying ghost calling your name" routine is far more Hollywoodic than what I have in mind. Secondly, no, I cannot accept it for being realistic. There is no way anyone who just before strogly doubted their existence would now chase a ghost, for no actual reason. The motif isn't strong enough. He's not a "deamon hunter", he's an investigator. This whole ghost thingy should've come up much later, and much more subtly. Not for the fear effect, but for realism.
If such a thing would happen in monkey island 3, I would have no trouble with it. These games are very very different in their basis, and from such a game, who tries to build an authentic sensation to the world (and succeeds a lot as well), I consider this a problem. A problem, which is by the way, very common in adventures unfortunately. It's much harder to build a good motif and a good scenario which would stay believable, and would succeed in involving such elements as ghosts, spirits, deamons, and what not.
Gabriel Knight series are one of the only games I can think of that totally mannaged to do it - just look at the difference!
Posted by: nickie

Re: Dead Reefs - 09/02/08 07:14 PM

He's a pragmatist - he believes what he can see, without being shocked or afraid. And to him, what is important is doing his job.
Posted by: Tomer

Re: Dead Reefs - 09/02/08 07:44 PM

Where are these people in real life, I wonder.
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Dead Reefs - 09/02/08 08:05 PM

I haven't played it, but from reading the discussion, if he really really doesn't believe in ghosts and is an investigator, (and I were playing) I'd assume he wasn't afraid because he didn't believe it. I would think he thought it was all a trick and one that he wanted to expose. puppy
Posted by: Becky

Re: Dead Reefs - 09/02/08 08:16 PM

He reminded me of those unflappable historical fiction heroes who favor a leisurely drawl when they speak and are forever taking snuff and refusing to show emotion in public. Like the Scarlet Pimpernel in his British Aristocrat mode.

I recall distinctly that Finvinerro's eyes widened when he saw the ghost. For him, that was a raw emotion. grin
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Dead Reefs - 09/07/08 05:17 AM

Thank you for your spot-on review bigmamma! thumbsup I put off playing Dead Reefs for a long time because of all the negative comments about the control system, but when I finally got round to the game found they weren't as bad as I expected & after getting used to them didn't find them too distracting. smile