Alter Ego

Genre:   Adventure

Developer:  Future Games

Publisher:    Viva Media

Released:  July 2010

PC Requirements:   Windows XP/Vista, Pentium 4 2.0 GHz or 100% compatible CPU, 256 MB RAM, 5 GB available hard disk space , DirectX 9,0c 

Walkthrough

Additional Screenshots

 

 

by flotsam

 

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 there.

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 engaging.

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 untied.

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.

B-

I played on:

OS: Win XP Professional SP3

Processor: AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz

Ram: 3.25GB DDR2 400MHz

Gx card: ATI Radeon HD 3850 512Mb

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