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 himself.you 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:
for the story, graphics and music.
for the movement controls