Subject 13 is a point-and-click
puzzle/adventure game. The game uses 3rd person point of view except for
close-ups of puzzles, which are in first person. The French programmer
and designer Paul Cuisset, whose previous credits include the 1991
murder mystery game "Cruise for a Corpse," created Subject 13 with
funding from Kickstarter and Microids/Anuman Interactive. One of the
more unusual Kickstarter rewards resulted in players having a choice
between playing as the originally designed protagonist, or in the
likeness of the backer who donated $10,000 toward making the game.
Story and Characters
You play as Franklin Fargo, a former
physics professor who never got over the loss of his intended wife,
Sophie. Sophie was killed in a robbery eight years before the start of
the game. Franklin feels responsible for Sophie's murder because if he
hadn't been late for their date, he might have been able to save her.
The cut scene that plays at the start of the game suggests that Franklin
tried to commit suicide by driving his car off a bridge (or over a
cliff) into a lake.
After the opening cut scene,
Franklin finds himself in an abandoned research facility on a remote
island. A disembodied voice speaks to Franklin and urges him to undergo
a series of tests to prove his intelligence. The various tests make up
the bulk of the puzzles in the game. Early scenes introduce the game
controls in a sort of tutorial, describing how to move around and
interact with objects
As the game progresses, Franklin
finds "testimonies," which are messages left by the people who used to
work at the research facility. He gradually discovers the nature of the
research that went on at the facility, as well as the respective fates
of the researchers and the native people who originally inhabited the
island. The hologram of a woman who resembles Sophie appears from time
to time, warning Franklin that he is in danger. Or is she a ghost rather
than a hologram?
Is the disembodied voice, a computer
AI (artificial intelligence)? Is someone else alive on the island? Does
the voice have any connection with the Island God, Ah Cizin, who was
worshipped by the native inhabitants before the arrival of the
researchers? Who were these native people, and what became of them? Is
Ah Cizin good or evil -- or does he even exist?
Though Subject 13 uses 3rd person
point of view, the type of puzzles used in the game are more often found
in 1st person puzzle/adventure games than in what is usually considered
"classic" 3rd person adventures. There are variants of slider puzzles,
sequencing puzzles, pattern matching puzzles, button-press puzzles,
rotation puzzles, lock puzzles, and similar. Many puzzles involve
locating and using inventory and interpreting clues. Some puzzles
require you to manipulate or combine inventory in a close-up view before
you're able to use it. Though you do have conversations in the game,
mostly with the disembodied voice and a few with the Sophie
hologram/ghost, none of the conversations affect the story and there are
no "conversation puzzles" where you have to select certain choices in a
specific sequence in order to progress.
The final puzzle is a huge
cylindrical Minesweeper-type puzzle. For me, half the difficulty was
seeing what I was looking at. Instead of a flat board with clear numbers
and markers for mines, as in regular Minesweeper, the puzzle was
transparent, and marked by blue and green lights that weren't visible
unless viewed pretty much head on. Since the puzzle is cylindrical, you
don't see most of it, and have to right-click-and-drag it right or left
to get a different view. Probably the most annoying thing about it was
that it will kick you out if you land on a mine, and when you re-enter
the puzzle, your blue-marked squares will be gone. If you happen to use
the wrong mouse button while attempting to click-and-drag the puzzle,
and you happened to click on a mine, you will find yourself kicked out
of the puzzle. It is easy to get kicked out by accident. There is no way
to save progress within the puzzle, and it is an onerous task to have to
redo so much of the puzzle.
When you start the game, a window
appears that offers a variety of resolutions and graphics options. By
default the options were set for very low end graphics cards, with
1024x768 resolution and graphics set to "fastest" (aka lowest quality).
My 3-year-old Nvidia GTX 560 Ti had no problem with playing the game at
1920x1200 resolution and highest quality. As modern games go, the game
is not terribly demanding. However the listed minimum requirements are
for a graphics card with 256MB video memory, so if your computer has low
end graphics without discrete video memory, you may not get the desired
Locations include the interior of
the research facility, the area just outside the door of the research
facility, a beach area, and the temple area. Background animations
include birds flying, water movement, clouds moving across the sky, and
occasional wind in the branches of trees.
Music, Voice, and Background
The music is electronic and ambient.
It's repetitive, but vague and ethereal enough that you may not notice.
However if you turn the music off you won't be left in complete silence.
Background sounds include the whirr of motors or fans inside the
research facility, and the sound of birds, wind, and waves outside.
Voices were good, though
occasionally it sounded like a line was being read out of context.
Subject 13 is point-and-click,
though you often have to click-and-drag to accomplish things.
Right-clicking and dragging will pan the screen. There is no 360 degree
panning, but some screens are slightly larger than your field of view,
and you can right-click and drag the screen with your mouse to check
whether any inventory is hiding slightly offscreen.
Clicking and holding down the left
mouse button will open an icon selection interface that functions
similar to the coin interface in Monkey Island 3. You'll see a ring
surrounded by an eye (to examine), a magnifying glass (to get a
close-up), and/or a hand (to pick up or use) the object you clicked on.
If any of these options is not available for a particular object, the
icon for that choice will not appear. Selecting the eye, hand, or
magnifying glass can occasionally be tricky. You can move your mouse in
the direction of one of the icons, yet another will be chosen. You have
to watch the lighted circle inside the ring to be sure which option is
actually selected. It resembles an interface designed more for a gamepad
than for a mouse.
Inventory is always visible in
hexagonal boxes at the lower left of the screen. You can get a close-up
of an inventory item by right-clicking it. When in a close-up of an
inventory item, you may have the option of both right-clicking and
left-clicking. One will manipulate the entire object while the other
will manipulate one part of the object. For example, you can flip an
entire book around, or you can pull open a flap on the book, depending
on whether you right-click or left-click. Clicking on the big "X" in the
upper left corner of a close-up will exit the close-up.
You will notice three icons in the
upper right of the screen that are always visible during gameplay
(except when in close-up). The one on top will take you to the main
menu, allow you to restart, allow you to adjust options such as volume
(music and sound effects can be configured separately), or allow you to
exit the game. The middle icon gives game tips. The 3rd icon allows you
to read the "testimonies" that you have collected.
The original version of the game was
plagued by bugs that resulted in the loss of inventory items, including
those that were necessary to complete the game. Patch 1.2 was released
to address these issues. However I still had a problem with one of the
testimonies not appearing where it was supposed to (the one under the
safe). This happened after starting a new game, so it wasn't a problem
caused by continuing a game that was started before patching. Although
it's not necessary to collect all the testimonies to complete the game,
much of the backstory is told through the testimonies, and it's
aggravating to have this happen.
Unfortunately there is no manual
save, only a single autosave. So there is no easy way to go back to a
previous save if you happen to have a glitch with inventory or
testimonies not appearing, and you have to restart from the beginning of
The $10,000 Kickstarter reward tier
offered the backer the option to have their likeness used as Franklin as
an alternative to the originally designed character model. There is no
difference in the story no matter which appearance you choose. But I
have to wonder what they'd have done if the $10,000 backer had been a
I wasn't quite sure what the
"testimonies" were supposed to be. They looked like they might have been
PDA's (or smartphones or mp3 players) with yellow covers. But it doesn't
make sense to me that the researchers would each have owned multiple
PDA's and recorded a single message on each one. Scattered diary pages
would have made more sense, since a diary can be ripped apart.
Apparently the game designers wanted the electronic equivalent of diary
pages, but it doesn't really make sense. Even if the "testimonies" were
SD cards or flash drives (and they were too large to be either), why
would the researchers record a single message on each one? A low tech
version would have made more sense -- diary pages or scribbled notes on
pads of paper that were left around the facility.
Like many recent adventure games
from Microids/Anuman Interactive, such as Dracula 4 and 5 and the
Nicolas Eymerich games, Subject 13 has features that resemble casual
adventures. It isn't super hard, and has a Hint feature that doesn't
always help, but usually isn't needed. It's not a super long game and
can probably be finished in an afternoon, like a casual -- unless of
course you have the disappearing inventory problem.
The single automatic save is another
feature Subject 13 shares with casual games, and given the problems with
game bugs, this limitation on saving is particularly unfortunate. I
replayed the game several times while writing the Gameboomers
walkthrough for it, and encountered missing inventory or missing
"testimony" bugs on about 50% of my playthroughs. Even with the 1.2
patch installed, I had a "testimony" not show up where it was supposed
to. If you're going to make the misguided decision to limit save
capability in an adventure game, the game had better be bug-free. This
one was not.
If you enjoy brainteaser-type
puzzles, Subject 13 is worth a look. However the game will not challenge
you as much as older puzzle/adventure games such as Shivers or
Safecracker. More seriously, saves are limited to a single autosave, and
you may run into issues with missing inventory or missing "testimonies,"
even with the 1.2 patch installed, which may force you to restart the
game from the beginning if you wish to complete it.
played the game on a computer with:
Windows 7 Ultimate, 64-bit
Intel Core i7 - 3820 CPU @ 3.60 GHz
8 GB RAM
Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti with 1.25 GB
Realtek High Definition Audio (onboard sound)
Minimum system requirements - Windows:
Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
Processor: Intel dual core 2
duo 2.2 Ghz or AMD equivalent
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: 3D Graphic card
with 256 MB (NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT or higher)
Recommended system requirements - Windows:
Windows 8, Processor: Intel
i7 3 Ghz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: 3D Graphic card 2
GB like GeForce GTX 560 or higher
Minimum system requirements - Mac:
OS X 10.7.5 or later
Processor: Intel quad-core
processor running at 3.1 GHz or equivalent
Memory: 4096 MB RAM
Graphics: Intel integrated
or mobile graphic card, with at least 768MB of dedicated or shared VRAM
/ Intel HD4000
Shader Model 5.0
Recommended system requirements - Mac:
OS X 10.7.5 or later
Processor: Intel Core i5 or
Memory: 4096 MB RAM
Graphics: AMD HD6970M /
Shader Model 5.0
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