Perils of Man
What every good health and
safety officer wouldnít give for a pair of Anaís nifty
see-everything-dangerous glasses, aka her risk atlas. Accidents would be
a thing of the past.
But I get ahead of myself.
Ana is Ana Eberling, Swiss
daughter of a mysteriously missing scientist daddy, who is not the first
scientist in the family to be so. She lives in a large gothic style
mansion with her mother who sees ghosts, or at least spends a lot of
time thinking she does, so itís a good thing Ana takes after her father.
Itís her birthday, and a present from the past sets her on a path to
learn more about what happened to daddy.
The first part is spent rambling
around in the mansion, in (mostly) logical puzzling ways. This will
usually involve finding and using the correct items, although some are a
little more ďpuzzleĒ in nature. Everything up front is rather promising,
the slightly clunky inventory notwithstanding. I liked the look and
feel, and the opening voiceover nicely set up a mysterious premise that
got more intriguing as things moved along. Ana came across as a feisty
young woman determined to get to the bottom of what might have gone on,
and the mansion hints at secrets to be discovered. A small mechanical
bird is then anything but, and sets us up for things to take off.
Except they donít.
Risk and its avoidance is a
strong theme throughout, and the aforementioned glasses enable Ana to
see those which are dangerous and then work to overcome them. While
there are some bigger explorations of what this might mean and what the
consequences might be, I have to confess once we left the mansion things
became a little too formulaic. See a problem, fix it; see another one,
fix it. The mystery gave way to doing tasks, and suffered for it.
The tasks themselves also give
way to the (at times) somewhat silly solution (the donkeys, for
example), and there were occasions where I was prevented from doing what
knew I had to do because I hadnít found the trigger (usually a
conversation) to allow it to be done. I get that triggers are an
essential part of adventuring, but if I need to have had a conversation
about a puzzle before it will become a puzzle, wait until that happens.
And donít give me a hint (if I ask for it) that I need to get an item I
already know I need from the dialogue, but never mention that a chat
might be useful to trigger a progression that will eventually lead to
another object that will ultimately result in getting said item.
Perhaps I am getting too ornery
in my older age, but to me these were design issues that let the game
down. And they werenít the only ones. Disjointed dialogue was another,
and there were items Ana used that simply didnít appear on screen. I
also managed to walk her completely out of a scene, and while I could
hear her walking about, I could no longer see her, and it took a while
to get her back. Finding the necessary hot spot allowed me to ultimately
explore that environment, but why she should go without me I donít know.
Ana wonít run either, and double
clicking doesnít ďjumpĒ her to the exit. Which is fine, but I thought I
should mention it.
I quite liked the way some of
the transitions from one location to another worked. Walk up a set of
stairs and you might pan up to the new room and watch Ana emerge from
down below. Or ask Ana to walk through a door and watch as you pan into
the new room and arrive shortly before Ana does. It made for a more
fluid transition than separate loads or discrete screens, and certainly
added to the impression of moving around an environment. There are
though some load screens, so they arenít avoided altogether.
The plot is complex, mixing time
travel and a sort of astral personality projection with thoughts about
the greater good and the sacrifice of a (relatively) few. Plus the risk
stuff referred to before. It is though a tad messy, and is espoused
through outpourings of dialogue which makes it feel disconnected from
the events Ana is undertaking. This is never more prominent that at the
end, which comes in an unsatisfying rush of cutscenes and dialogue.
Perils of Man plays in the third
person, except when using the risk atlas which occurs in the first
person. It is completely point and click, and will save when you exit
and just continue from where you were up to. I liked a lot of things
(did I mention the score?) but it was ultimately a middling experience.
It fell away as it went along, which was all the more accentuated by the
promising start. Which is a shame.
I played on:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz
Video card: AMD Radeon
HD 7800 2048MB
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