DIABOLIK: The Original Sin





Genre:   Action Adventure

Developer:   Artematica Entertainment

Publisher:    Black Bean Games

Released:  October, 2009

PC Requirements:   Pentium 4 2.4 GHz, 1 GB RAM, graphic card 128 MB (GeForce 4 Ti4200 or better), 2.5 GB HDD, Windows 2000/XP/Vista  





by flotsam


Part James Bond, part the Phantom, all he-man; the eponymous Diabolik starts off dead and then backtracks to that death, Is he or isnít he, and what of Eva? Not to mention the White Rose and its connection to the sin? 

A master thief, around since 1962, itís his thieving skills that are the source of Diabolikís current (mis)adventures. Steal a painting, or itís bye-bye Eva. Better yet, steal two.

A black E-Type Jaguar is his choice of travel, a black skin-tight jumpsuit his favoured apparel. Which isnít to say, when the need demands, he isnít flexible. A hot air balloon perhaps, and a guardís uniform.

Heís a man of a thousand faces, and two piercing eyes. No guns, no unnecessary killing, but gadgets abound. Grappling hooks, lock picks, gas canisters, blowguns, image recorders and laser pointers. From hi-tech to lowbrow, nothing is beyond utility.

Ginko is here, the determined inspector, forever on the trail but seemingly one step behind. But not always.

Originally the progeny of two Italian sisters, Diabolik stays true to its comic book roots. Numerous events unfold through a panoply of (mainly still) comic pages. Some contain limited movement, but most usually the motion is intimated, or portrayed through the primary object remaining frozen in form but being moved through the scene. The sense of moving pictures is heightened by utilising things like split screens, overlays, and quick page changes. A good sound palette and a not-too-bad music score round it out.

Oh, and plenty of Thwacks, Screeees, Splats and Ker-Splunks.

The other part of the game is a 3D world, through which you move Diabolik via point and click. Itís a fairly drab world; the black and white worked well in the comic book parts of the game, and whilst freight trains and factories arenít all that vibrant, the 3D world could have done with a spruce-up.

Pointing and clicking may take a while to master. Not because itís inherently difficult, but because the camera angles can make navigation tricky. As with many games, the camera changes to suit itself and, unlike some games, you canít force it to be behind you. It adds a little more persistence to exploration to make sure you have seen all the nooks and crannies, and can make the timed sequences all that more confronting.

More of that later, but one thing that did help was that Diabolik will continue on his way to wherever you clicked when he started. So no matter how many times the camera angles change coming down a hall, if you could see the door at the end of the hall in your original view, and clicked on it, Diabolik will end up at the door. There is a temptation, especially when you are running, to try and reorient yourself (and Diabolik) as the angles change, and click again. Try and ignore that temptation, and navigation will be easier.

Back to the timed sequences. There actually arenít any, or actually there are a lot. It all depends whether you pick adventure mode or action mode. In the latter, all manner of mini-games involving reactions and timing are present. In adventure mode, they are non-existent. So picking a door in action mode might involve wiggling and wriggling a wire through a lock; in adventure, it simply involves using the right inventory item. Or a scaffold might give way; in action, you might have to quickly move your mouse in the right direction and if done correctly, Diabolik will grab a rail and prevent a fall. In adventure, he simply grabs the rail.

That doesnít mean there arenít things to do and conundrums to solve in adventure mode. Itís mostly find and use the correct item, but there are some logic type puzzles and dimensions as well. Donít think itís just an interactive comic book; you just wonít have action in your adventure conundrum.

I canít tell you whether the actiony bits become overwhelming, because I played on adventure, and only just started action to see the differences. I intend though to play it through, as it certainly seems to change the feel quite significantly. A big plus, in my books.

Some things arenít as big. The writing is fine, but drags on occasionally and never reaches any great heights. There are some internal inconsistencies with the game design. Usually, Diabolik will not do something unless he as a reason to. Sometimes though, he will do things well before he has such a reason, and rather nonsensically as a result. Also, if I have a lock pick, why should I need to find a piece of wire to open a locked door? I got the odd glitch too (three or four over the course of the game), requiring a control-alt-delete to get out. 

Itís a very linear game, with a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing, but the respective environments are not too large, so the back and forth is at least limited as a result. There is regular loading going on between environments, only talking seven or so seconds, but it did get a little annoying.

Right clicking scrolls through a range of cursers depicting various actions (look, use, talk, etc.) and hotspot icons will indicate things that can be examined or utilised as well as exits to other locations or rooms. Make sure you examine things Ė Diabolik may not think there is anything worth picking up if you donít.

You occasionally get to play another character, but by and large you are controlling Diabolik. He is the star, and I confess I liked him. He is better fleshed out than the other characters, and is the sort to think first and biff only if necessary (although biffing is certainly required). The comic book aspect in particular was well done, and it also appealed to me.

Diabolik is a decent length, and a bit of a throwback to a simpler world of goodies and baddies and super dudes. Given there is a whole other game still to play, its hard not to be satisfied. It might not win any prizes, but I rather hope we see him again.


November, 2009

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