It has been a long time I've written any review so my apologizes for not being in "writing" shape. I feel that I owe to Culpa Innata this user review as it was the game which nailed me to the chair and kept it there until I've finished it.
So let's start and look at what a strange beast Culpa Innata is!
In Culpa Innata you take control of Senior peace officer Phoenix Wallis who is called to investigate murder of Vassily Bogdanov - World Union citizen. This World Union is very strange place. Governed by the pure Scientific rules (eg. domination of selfish gene, preferring pure objectivism to humanity etc). Phoenix Wallis though thinks that it's the best place to live and performs her duties as a peace officer nonetheless.
It would take too long to describe the World Union logic itself as this is clearly the area where Culpa Innata excels the most. The level of detail invested into the utopic world modelling is amazing and I don't think there has been a parallel in the history of adventure games.
Knowing the background, let's move to the game itself. Culpa Innata is full 3d game, which plays though as a point'n'click game in a similar manner to Bone or new Sam'n'Max game - player uses his mouse to navigate his avatar through the gaming world. You can save your progress whenever you like and I didn't find any limitation on save slots. The game runs in two visual modes - low and high resolution - with the option to turn on anti aliasing. You can also select captions but they are available only for cutscenes and dialogues, not for Phoenix personal comments.Visuals
Visual side of the game is probably the only low down of the game. It's obvious that the ageing 3D engine used for the game couldn't support the great rest of the game. I normally wouldn't mention graphics but in Culpa Innata it's the only thing which is standing in a way to add this game as one of the best adventures ever. The problem lies in 3d which has plus and minus. Plus is that the game feels incredibly cinematic, the minus is, that the environment looks rusty even for older game, although some of the interior scenes are quite ok. If I compare it to the Sam'n'Max 3D game, the latter wins it by a huge stylization, which covers the polygon-simple 3D environment.
Where the game excels though are facial animations. I've heard that Momentum uses own patented method for facial animations for emotions, lip-sync etc. This really adds a lot to the visual side of the game and increases rapidly the cinematic feel. Also given the fact that Culpa contains a lot of talking, it was a good choice to include such sophisticated system in the game.Gameplay
The vast majority of gameplay consists of dialogues. Yes, you hear me right. If you thought that The Longest Journey is a talktaive game, think again. Culpa contains much more talking than the aforementioned game. Yet I was never bored by dialogues as they all perfectly depicted the characters and moreover they supported the world union background. Apart from talking there is quite some investigation to do. There are quite some mechanical puzzles and there is a lot of various gadgets to operate.
I think this is very strong point in Culpa, because normally in sci-fi games you have some simple computers and operate them with some really strange way. Here you really feel, that you can use your gadgets to their extent. It was a big fun to fiddle with various machines and use them throughout the game.
Another level of the gaming experience was the interrogation part which was a psychological puzzle based on questioning someone who tried to outsmart you or hide something from you. This section was vaguely resembling to Blade Runner, but here it was done differently and I always looked forward to do some more interrogations to test my skills.
Gameplay in general is very unlinear. The only game I played before which would be comparable to this experience was Sherlock Holmes and Case of the Rose Tattoo, where there were also many different lines which connected at the end. I felt a big freedom in the game as I could go whenever I liked and only once I depleted all possibilities and was stuck (thanks MaG!) for a time being befor the game opened up again for me. Moreover the gameplay is exceptionally long as I spent more than 20 hours playing (I am though a detailist and someone could probably manage to cut the gameplay down by skipping non-optional parts of the game).
Phoenix has an inventory but inventory puzzles are a bit simplistic if you compare them to Kheops games. On the other hand, they are entirely believable as Phoenix doesn't usually carry around ladders and such.
Perfect thing is a well organized diary (similar to RPG games) where your progress and thoughts is recorded. Without this diary the game would be much worse playable.Music and Sound
Sound was not disturbing although sometimes were footsteps quite odd. Music had two poles - the cinematic music and music with eastern influence worked perfectly, while there were tracks which were completely annoying. I think it was purposeful (for example the Thing Store music) but I don't think that Momentum had to come to this level. Glitches
The most annoyning glitch was Phoenix pathfinding. Sometimes simply some camera changes didn't occur and so I was stuck only because the view, where I could have make something never occur. Sometimes also clicking next to the hotspot I was standing made Phoenix run the big marathon completely away. I expected one bug when a "cup" remained on the screen and I was walking through the game world with a cup centered on the screen. Restarting game helped. I didn't experience any stability issues or crashes and such.Plot
Ok, here - without spoilers - I have to tell, that I was a bit disappointed upon ending the game that some of the lines never tied. While I am not a friend of spelling everything out, here I felt that developers either too much prepared for Culpa Innata 2 or hid from us too much. That's all I can tell without spoiling.
There's also a lot of sexual talk and strong sexual themes, and I mean a lot, so the game is rated M for purpose. I don't mind it as it's not purposeless at all, but some of the faint-hearted could find themselves offended. Resume
One of the best adventure games which come out in years. Excellent captivating plot, deep storyline, interesting characters are bit spoiled by substandard 3d graphics and saved by facial animations and dynamic cinematic feel of the game. If you add a lot of interesting and diverse puzzles and very detailed world to explore, you can't think of any other grade thanA
(I would give A+++ if the graphics was better, plot was more closed at the end and some of the music wasn't so bad I had to turn it off, but that can be only professional deformation anyway