Meet Timothy Moor and Detective Sergeant Bristol.
Both are in Plymouth in the late 1800ís, one trying to get to America, the
other investigating his first case since arriving in town. One is a thief,
a vagabond, and lazy to boot. The other is a policeman, diligent and
hardworking. They are the egos of the title and, while seemingly on
different paths, they will indeed cross.
In the background is Sir William, the ďwhite beastĒ
accused of numerous murders and recently deceased. There are more murders,
and some unsettling goings-on in the cemetery. All paths seemingly lead
Timothy and the Sergeant are well-rounded
characters. Whatever their outward demeanour, they share their inner
thoughts with you, and you are left in no doubt as to their true natures.
I didnít find either of them particular likeable, but I certainly felt
that I understood them and their motivations.
Both are well voiced, and among the better voice
work I have come across in a game for some time. Tim at times seems
disinterested, but I thought that summed him up; he had a singular
motivation, and was forced to take part in certain events as opposed to
choosing to. At heart he is lazy, looking for the easy way out. So an
underlying level of boredom suited him. By contrast, DS Bristol had a
level of condescension and superiority that also came through in his
manner and speech.
The voice acting is uniformly rather good, making
this aspect a high point of the game. Ditto the dialogue, and the writing
in general. The plot may have its holes, but they are generally well
written holes. The personalities of the two lead characters are such that
they would have been undermined by flabby or weak dialogue. That isnít the
case, which ensures that the lengthy conversations and expositions remain
I canít say the same about the puzzles. It's
inventory based puzzling all the way, and some conundrums are weakly
constructed. I donít mean that the solution is obscure, although there is
a bit of that, more that the design of particular conundrums just didnít
hang together. Some seemed too ďbitsyĒ, the solution more an obstacle
course than a well thought out approach.
Which might just be me. You will likely know by now
that I prefer pulling levers and switches to see what happens, as opposed
to gathering a countless array of items to use in interesting and unusual
ways. So some of the criticism of the puzzle construction might be my
preferences showing through.
Alter Ego also
lacks direction at times (meaning that it requires some random wandering
to see what might have changed), and there are occasions when you leave a
scene and simply come back in order to trigger a progression. The game
isnít terribly hard though, which means that these aspects, and the
puzzles themselves, shouldnít bog you down. Your progression through the
game should continue at a good pace, helped by the ability to reveal
hotspots and exits. Indeed, itís a game that will suit novice players, and
those that like a steady paced and not too taxing time while adventuring.
Alter Ego has some
dark themes, and dead and not so dead bodies. It isnít gory or scary, but
the presence of Sir William and his deeds, and the shadow they cast on the
town, ensures that the mood teeters towards the edge of uncomfortable from
time to time.
It rarely manages to fall over though. A little more
life in the settings would have helped. They are full of detail, but are
flat and generally perfectly still except for the characters. More
cutscenes would have compensated, giving it a more cinematic feel, and
some music too (I donít remember any at all). The ambient sounds and
lighting try hard, but canít make the difference.
I found the end surprising, in more ways than one.
There had better be a sequel, or you had better like some things left
Other players have reported graphical glitches but I
had none. The game played flawlessly, saved and loaded easily. There are
better examples of this genre, but it gave me a gentle and overall
enjoyable couple of weekends' play.
I played on:
OS: Win XP
AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz
Gx card: ATI
Radeon HD 3850 512Mb