Runaway 3: A Twist of Fate



Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Pendulo Studios

Publisher:    Focus Home Interactive

Released:  November 2009 (English version)

PC Requirements:   Windows XP SP2 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7, Celeron 1.7GHZ - Duron 1.6GHZ CPU, 768 (XP) 1024 (Vista) MB memory, 256 Compatible DirectX9 Min 1280x720 video memory, 8 GB HD,  DirectX 9  compatible audio

Additional Screenshots





by Looney4Labs


In 2003, Pendulo Studios released Runaway: A Road Adventure, followed by Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle in 2007. Now, just in time for Christmas, they have released the final installment in this popular series, Runaway: A Twist of Fate (Fate).

It is very difficult to review the third game in a series without providing at least some spoilers for the previous two games. So be forewarned, if you have not yet played the preceding games but plan to, you might want to stop reading now, skip to the end, and read the short list.

“Well, this is an interesting start.” Gina 

At the conclusion, or as some would say, the non-conclusion of Runaway 2, a very dejected and overwhelmed Brian reviews some of the considerable and substantial, perhaps insurmountable, barriers standing between himself and his beloved Gina. She is in a state of suspended animation deep under a lake, and her location is surrounded by soldiers under the command of corrupt and ruthless Col. Kordsmeier who will do all in his power to prevent her rescue. Also, his cohort, Tarantula (a truly evil villain) and her minions are in Brian’s way and must be dealt with.

If you expect game three to take up the story minutes after game two ended -- as I did -- a surprise awaits you. This tale opens with a bird’s-eye view of Brian’s sparsely attended funeral. Yes, I said Brian’s funeral, and what’s more, Gina is the only mourner in sight.

With the central plot quest of Turtle completed (Gina very evidently has been rescued), what in the world will the gamer find to do? Where is this story going? Well, the answer is that the gamer will find six chapters full of puzzles to solve, will play as several different characters and, as the story twists and turns, will learn the details of Gina’s rescue and Brian’s death.

“I know that sounds weird because of my current appearance, but try not to forget that I'm actually a debonair collegiate youth with handsome blue eyes.” Brian

Obviously, Brian and Gina are back, and they will interact with many individuals -- some old, some new, some unexpected and all entertaining. Brian’s face is subtly changed for this outing; his square eyes replaced with more detailed ones and his messy hair is now closely cut and covered by a watch hat.

Gina is her usual curvaceous self. Kordsmeier still has more chin than integrity, and his subaltern, O’Connor, more loyalty than brains. Remember Joshua? He is available to give the stuck gamer a bit of a nudge, though he won’t directly tell you what to do.

“Nothing like a sock in the kisser to promote dialogue.” Jonah

In keeping with the earlier games, hero, heroine, and supporting cast all have lots to say. Often, it is funny, witty, insulting, wisecracking or all four at the same time. From time to time, though, I felt that certain statements were intended to be humorous but missed my funny bone by just a bit.

Dialogue is delivered via the standard tree, and can be repeated or skipped as needed. Voice acting on the whole is satisfactory, though a little more range of emotion would be welcome. Subtitles are available, but sometimes the text and the spoken words are different.

Though the English language localization was excellent for the most part, one section contains a glaring and obvious error. I was surprised to see it in a product of this quality. Also, from time to time, Brian makes a jibe or two at the production team. Aside from the amusing quality of these remarks, I wonder if they were meant to explain why certain problems were not corrected before release?

“They drag chains, howl…” Agatha

Mood setting tunes enhance the ambiance by changing to fit the moment’s demands. Jazzy chords may be followed by a Spanish beat which is itself followed by a period of silence broken only by environmental sounds such as the thunk of a falling iron, the beep of a security pad, or the clanging of machinery.

I was surprised and disappointed that it is not possible to adjust the music, voice, and ambient sounds separately.

That’s an innovative bookshelf.” Brian

Like its predecessors, Fate is a third person adventure game featuring cartoon style graphics complete with the de rigueur curlicue clouds. However, aside from the clouds, the settings appear fairly normal with few of the exaggerated features and bright primary colors often found in cartoon style games. Though some settings are more dimly lit (and appropriately so), none are dark.

“Refrigerators are used to keep food, drink, medicine, film, flowers, dentures, underwear, whole dead bodies, pieces of dead bodies or dead bodies in sauce, but not that!” Gina

As you play, you will mostly encounter inventory puzzles. Strangely, these are pretty straightforward -- no taping a cell phone to a cat or using human skin to make a trampoline, for instance. This doesn’t mean they are always obvious, though. On the whole, I enjoyed them. They fit well into the storyline, as long as you remember you are playing a Runaway game.

However, my favorite puzzle is one in which Brian must guess a series of movie titles from the actions of his friend Marcelo, who happens to be a mime. The titles were easily discerned and the alternate answers were a hoot.

Another fun puzzle reviewed the happenings of the original game in this series.

There are no sound or color dependent puzzles, and no timed or action sequences either. Sliders, mini-games, and mazes are also absent, and you cannot die.

“I hope his plan works.” Brian

Fate’s interface is intuitive. All movement is mouse-controlled. The ‘Esc‘ key brings up the options, help, load, save, and quit screens, which can also be accessed using the ‘F’ keys (1–4). Saving is at will, unlimited, and you can name your own saves. Fate is Alt+Tab friendly. The old style cursor (right click on item to cycle through possible actions) is easy to use and seems right in this setting.

Pressing F2 displays all the hotspots, a feature that I used frequently to ensure I had explored every essential item before leaving a screen. Though generally helpful, I experienced a single hitch in the system. I had employed F2 and walked around one area and clicked and clicked and clicked, but was able to obtain the “look” cursor and its following “take” indicator for one particular necessary item only by standing all the way across the room.

I must give a big thumbs-up to Pendulo for including the ability to pause the game (space bar) at any time, including during cut scenes. In my house, every cut scene precipitates a ringing phone, the chiming door bell, the barking dogs…you get the picture. I have missed many a scene and been forced to replay because real life reared its head at the wrong moment. So, I did a dance of joy when I discovered that the space bar paused cut scenes and dialogue exchanges. Bravo!

Other than the one hotspot glitch described above, Fate played seamlessly and without problems.

“Banana!” Gabbo

Though Fate ties up the dangling plot lines from Runaway 2, and states during the game that this is the last of the series, the cracking good finale leaves the door open just a tiny bit for another outing for Brian and Gina. As I got a kick out of this game as well as its antecedents, I welcome one.

Those who have enjoyed Runaway 1 and 2 will most likely like this one, while those who would rather spit nails than play them should give this one a skip as well.

Runaway: A Twist of Fate can be purchased via download at The Adventure Shop.

Grade: A

Short List:

Third in a series of three planned games

Third person adventure game

Mouse controlled movement

Save at will, unlimited, name your own

Twisting story told by flashback alternating with current time

Play as several characters

Old characters brought back and joined by new and memorable ones

In game hint system

Dialogue often, but not always, amusing

Dialogue can be skipped, but not in cut scenes

Subtitles available

Cut scenes can be paused

Voice, background music, ambient sounds not separately adjustable

Cartoon style graphics

Preponderantly inventory puzzles which fit the story

No sound or color dependant puzzles

No timed or action puzzles

No mazes or sliders or mini-games

Old style cursor

ALT+Tab friendly

One annoying hotspot glitch; otherwise, a stable game

I played on a computer with the following specifications:

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 GTS

Sound card: Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-FI  Xtreme Music

December, 2009

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