Wicked, fiendish, contemptible, incorrigible,
nefarious, iniquitous, peccant, misanthropic, sardonic, cynical,
evil-- hmm…. All words perfectly applicable to many a villain, but seldom
used when speaking of heroes. Well, at least, not until now.
With its initial adventure game release, Ceville (henceforth known
as Ceville the game or CTG), Realmforge (formerly Boxed Dreams) and
Kalypso Media have redefined the word “hero” and the term may never be the
CTG uses third-person perspective and beautifully bright and
detailed cartoon graphics to weave a tale told from an unusual viewpoint.
As King and tyrant of Faeryanis, King Ceville has had things his own way
with no care or concern for his populace for far too long. As the game
begins, the downtrodden masses rise in revolt and are soon joined by the
palace guard. The egomaniacal despot is forced to flee.
Basilius, a villain even more reprehensible than the overthrown
monocrat, secretly maneuvers to seize the mantle of power. As a result,
the gamer is forced to aid Ceville, the
villain-who-will-eventually-be-a-hero, first in his flight and, in due
course, in his attempt to thwart the malevolent Basilius’ scheme.
“I am the undemocratically
chosen despot of all Faeryanis.” King Ceville
Ceville himself is short of stature as well as morals. His handlebar
mustache accentuates his beady eyes and his waddling walk brought forth
many a chuckle from me. He is aided in his quest by an unlikely heroine by
the name of Lilly, who reminds me of nothing so much as of a Precious
Moments figurine brought to life. She is guileless, and in her credulity
decides to help the “rightful ruler” regain his throne.
Lilly’s innocence and Ceville’s callousness are perfect foils for each
other. She teaches Ceville there is more to life than self-gratification
while, at the same time, she learns that certain actions are not always
wrong or always right. You’ll also occasionally control Ambrosius, paladin
extraordinaire and a shining example of knighthood (if only he were just a
bit less narcissistic).
Each character brings different talents to the quest and you will need
to switch between them as together they work their way through a land
heavily populated with unforgettable souls. Each one is a bit
“over-the-top” even for a stereotype, but that just adds to the fun in
For instance, Klunk is a very large, very stupid guard. His much too
small tunic bares his outsized belly. His main concern in life seems to be
when the next meal time will be. He is paired with Smiley, a vertically
challenged but minimally brighter sentry who quotes the rule book with
glee. I found the Black Pirate’s look-- two wooden legs (one is a mop) and
a bird’s nest, complete with bird in his left eye socket--perfect. Though
this list barely scratches the surface, I’ll just say each persona
presents just the right appearance, personality, and voice--and stop there
in order to let you have the delight of discovery for yourself.
“Actually, this would be
the time for a sarcastic comment but I think the situation speaks for
itself.” King Ceville
CTG is a dialogue heavy game so it’s great that the voice acting
is consistently excellent. The entertaining dialogue good-naturedly takes
aim at every gaming convention, pop icons, fairytale creatures, fantasy
story standards, popular movies, classic books and more. Nothing and no
one is spared. Laughter was the order of the day as I merrily ushered
Ceville/Lilly/Ambrosius on their way.
Lampooning iconic images was not limited to graphics or dialogue,
however. Music much reminiscent of the Indiana Jones’ theme accompanies a
great escape moment, and the music at all times contributed greatly to the
escapist feel of the game--as did the ambient sounds. Ceville’s
thunkity-thunk footsteps contrast nicely with Lilly’s more graceful
“This place is full of
abhorrently peaceful pictures.” King Ceville
Faeryanis is a delightful fairytale of a place complete with an
overgrown mushroom house, a castle, a jack-of-all-trades peddler, and a
manacled grey-haired prisoner hanging on the wall of the local jail house.
Most screens include some small animations, a touch that I always enjoy.
Ceville’s actions to gain/leave his chair in the dining room are quite
fun. I especially liked Ceville and Lilly’s slightly distorted reflection
in a pool of water in the Elven forest.
“Did you know these texts
only exist to hide the fact of long loading times?” Ceville, the game
Traveling around Faeryanis is easy and the control scheme is flexible.
The mouse can handle everything or you can elect to use a combination of
mouse and keyboard. Saves are unlimited, at will, and you can name them.
In addition, the game autosaves every five minutes.
CTG is a highly customizable game, allowing you to fine-tune
texture and gamma, as well as independently adjusting volume for the
background music, voice, effects, and ambient sounds. Subtitles are
available (I noticed a few scattered typos), and conversations can be
skipped, though one must be careful not to skip crucial conversations.
A double left click on the ground sends your character running, or you
can click on an area for instant transportation. Also, later in the game
you get an interactive map. While generally easy to use, in certain areas
I had to move Lilly/Ceville several times in order to reach a trigger
My favorite interface feature is the ability to reveal all hot spots
While I never did any true pixel hunting, I was stuck several times
until I remembered to use this feature. Without exception, this always
revealed an item I had failed to notice.
“It’s unbelievable how
many useless and repulsive things we lug around with us.” King Ceville
The preponderance of CTG’s puzzles are inventory based. Ceville/Lilly/Ambrosius
will need a certain item to complete an action. Some are simple fetch and
carry missions while others are complex and multi-stepped. The gamer may
be required to pass inventory between avatars or switch players
frequently, or both. While many of these posers were logical (well, in
context anyway), sometimes I was entirely clueless. Most of these times
were in the last act when I was often reduced to trying every inventory
item with its fellows as well as with everything on-screen until I
succeeded. Occasionally, that led to an “aha, why didn’t I think of that”
moment--but not always.
There are a few timed sequences. They are not difficult and if you
fail, you begin from the start of that puzzle. Most required a few tries
to figure out what I was supposed to do. Armed with that knowledge, I was
easily able to finish in the time allowed. Even better, with each failure
additional seconds are added to the clock. If one must have timed puzzles,
this is the way to implement them.
Additionally, there is one sound puzzle, but visual clues are also
provided. There are no mazes, sliders, or mini-games.
Though not a fan of watching credits, I found that CTG employs a
novel approach. Be sure to stay tuned to the end for a bit of a surprise.
“I should punish them
all.” King Ceville
Much is well done in this game, but not everything. For example, CTG
is not Alt+Tab or Windows key friendly. Indeed, both times I tried to
multitask while playing resulted in a hard lock.
The game crashed to the desktop five additional times, though it ran
fine each time upon restarting.
Loading times were long--twenty to thirty seconds on the initial
opening and between chapters which wasn’t too bad, but the ten to fifteen
second time lapse between locations became increasingly aggravating the
more I had to back trek. Though that may not sound like a lot, it did
break up the continuity of the game. The developers must have realized
this as they placed tips, some useful and some humorous, on-screen during
Also, when playing with subtitles on, the first one or two words on the
right and the last one or two on the left were off-screen on my widescreen
In addition, twice lines were spoken that made no sense in that scene.
Too, I heard mild expletives a handful of times.
I had a few other random problems. For example, once Ceville did not
make an observation needed to advance the story and another time a
character was out of place and refused to move. However, I was not able to
replicate these errors on replay.
“By Aules weeping eye,
that’s the truth of it.” Dwarf
Realmforge and Kalypso are to be commended for this, their initial
game. CTG offers an easy and intuitive interface, bright and clear
graphics, outstanding voice acting, puzzles ranging in difficulty from “Of
course” to “You’ve got to be kidding,” and dialogue that is both witty and
Be warned that, though the game ends, this story has joined many others
in titillating us with a not-quite-tied-up story with the promise of more
to come. I will be first in line to play it.
Third person perspective
Mouse controlled, though
keyboard shortcuts can be used
Space bar reveals all hot spots
Save at will
Name your own saves
Humorous dialogue which can be
Excellent voice acting
Voice, sound effects,
background music independently adjustable
Clear cartoon graphics
Many memorable non-player
Mostly inventory puzzles
A few timed puzzles, but time
given increases with each failure
No sound dependent puzzles
No solely color dependent
Not Alt+Tab friendly
I played on a computer with the
OS: Win XP Professional SP3
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad
CPU @ 2.40 GHz
Ram: 3.25GB Dual Channel DDR2
667 w/ECC 2-DIMMs
Gx card: nVidia GE Force 8800
Sound card: Creative Labs Sound
Ceville is available on store shelves in the United Kingdom and via
The Adventure Shop.