This is fantastical, whimsical, elegant adventure puzzling at its finest.
At home in your bedroom, things rumble, the light flickers, and the wallpaper peels. The door revealed is one you know you have to go through. The world behind is where the game takes place.
It’s a world in a subterranean cavern, then in a castle, full of ladders, and lifts and rooms and tunnels, leading outside sometimes, elsewhere other times, and down a lot of the time. It’s an exercise in solving rooms to move on, using switches, pressure plates, ramps and drawbridges as well as more “mundane” items like chairs, coat racks and chests of drawers.
Light is a key element, one you will eventually be able to carry with you. So too are the entities (known as creaks) that you will encounter. They include metallic dogs, floating tentacled blobs and the nimblest goats ever, and whilst some might thwart you, frustrate you, even “kill” you, they can all (and indeed must) be bent to your goal of moving on.
And by the way, the lanky spiky haired ones are a puzzling treat (and are called spies I just found out).
Part of the attraction is in discovering how you can manipulate them, how they respond to you, how they might be used. So I will say no more, other than don’t be afraid to experiment.
Despite me saying that things can kill you, this is in no way an actiony game. In every location, you can ponder what to do and how to do it. There are things in the environment to manipulate, lights and gates among them, and things to utilise in your favour. As I can recall, wherever I entered a scene I could spend as much time as I liked pondering the bits and pieces in front of me, without danger.
You might have to venture into the environment to test how things might work. Some of that might lead to your demise. But it didn’t seem capricious in any way, and you can do lots of fiddling in an area to see how things work and how you might put that together without fearing for your life.
Eventually you will have to put a plan into action, and there can be a bit of timing involved (eg climb that ladder and get to the pressure plate before the blob arrives). But it is reasonably gentle, with a decent margin for error, and you are far more likely to fail because of the wrong approach than a timing deficiency.
Fail you will, or at least you will if you are anything like me, as some of the rooms get rather difficult. I needed help on occasion, and while I didn’t ever think that I had done so much that things weren’t retrievable, I did reload on more than one occasion to get a clean slate. As near as I can remember, the game autosaves before every new location, so its an easy thing should you wish to enter anew.
While the intrigue of the locations is the thing, there is a bigger story going on, one that involves the avian creatures that you spy here and there, and a very large creature climbing around itself. It comes together at the end, and again I won’t spoil it by telling you anything more.
The end game involves an incredible sequence where you pretty much “climb” the entire height of the mansion, one I found quite spectacular. And the send off has to be seen to be believed. Joyous fun to say the least. If you don’t get all the way through, at least watch it on YouTube.
It’s a beautifully hand drawn and painted realm, one that never gets dull. All sorts of detail abound, all wrapped in an eclectic score that to some extent reflects your efforts. A plethora of instruments, stringed and otherwise, as well as a choir are apparent. The whole thing is splendour indeed.
Throughout the mansion you will also find a series of paintings, some in plain sight, others in hidden rooms only revealed through thorough exploration. Pull the string at the bottom of each, and much like a music box they will animate and play for you. Quite a few are also little mini-activities, should you want to engage. You don’t have to, indeed you don’t have to find any of them at all, but they provide yet another layer. The ones I found were charming.
While the avians chitter, dogs bark and the thing outside growls, there is no dialogue, spoken or read. Like other products from this company, words are the least of the endeavour, and their absence matters not at all.
The game plays exclusively with the keyboard moving up down left and right, and interacting with the space key. It saves generously as you go (manual saving isn’t available), and if you die it returns you prior to the fatal encounter.
Creaks is, in a word, a gem, one that deserves to be taken out and inspected by every adventure game lover.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB