.•*(¸.•*´♥`*•.¸)`*•. Jane Jensen's Moëbius .•*(¸.•*´♥`*•.¸)`*•.

It's one of the most anticipated games of the year.
How is it shaping up?
Is Malachi a worthy character?

gremlin takes a look in

.•*(¸.•*´♥`*•.¸)`*•. gremlin's First Look at Moëbius .•*(¸.•*´♥`*•.¸)`*•.

What have we here?

Jane Jensen seems to be held in awe by GameBoomers regulars as a queen of adventure gaming, in particular for her characters and stories. She is particularly associated with the Gabriel Knight games, but has a number of other significant titles on her CV.

Back in early April 2012, Jane and her husband, Robert Holmes, launched Pinkerton Studios and a Kickstarter campaign for funding two adventure games. This campaign had exceeded its funding goals by the middle of May 2012. The first of those games, Moëbius, is due for release in December 2013 or early in 2014, but I've been looking at a beta version of the first two chapters of the story.

We've probably all heard of the Moëbius Strip (a surface that loops to look like a figure of eight, but with a twist in it such that there's only one face and one edge in the object). I wonder what it is about Moëbius the game that gives this rise to the link.

Notes from a short journey

Moëbius is a point and click adventure with only one keyboard shortcut - the space bar for showing all hotspots. You take the part of Malachi Rector, antiques dealer and assessor, with a very keen analytical eye for the diagnostic details of a person or an artifact. This skill appears to be his main weapon in this game - the ability to extract and correlate information. He also has a remarkably detailed knowledge of history.

Rector is a very tall, slim man who's always seen in a sharp suit, at least in the parts of the game available to me. He's based in New York, like all the best crime-fighting antiques experts. His shop is run by Gretchen Stern, his shop manager, so Malachi doesn't always have to be there. The shop isn't large, but the objects are clearly valuable.

The game opens with Malachi diagnosing a supposed antique as a restoration piece -- and getting beaten up for the trouble. We begin the game after he leaves hospital, from whence we eventually meet the client for Malachi's next consulting job -- a job which takes him to Venice, Italy.

The game is quite linear, in that there are parts of the story which simply won't move on until Malachi completes a specific set of tasks, but the completion of those tasks may happen in a variety of orders.

The user interface in the beta version (assuming it doesn't have a complete overhaul before the final release) is modern, but nicely unobtrusive. Being a modern young business man, Malachi loves his mobile phone. It's clearly a very smart one, as its functions go beyond those of phones I've used. It houses the map of game locations, his contacts list, the ability to phone, text and email people. It also allows you to perform Malachi's signature kind of analysis. However, I know this feature is going to undergo some changes before the final release, so I won't confuse matters with a description of it. Just to say that the current version does work, and the analysis function is an interesting mechanic. It's role in the game is also not wildly dissimilar to the deduction board in the Sherlock Holmes games (which I also like).

As already mentioned, all hotspots in a location can be highlighted (either with an icon on the pull-out menu in the top-left corner, or with the space-bar) with nice clear labels (you can even change the font size in the options). The same clear font is used to handle dialogue and subtitles.

The rest of the graphics are quite detailed, and of a high quality; they're aiming for a quite realistic look, although the people are rather more ectomorphic than in reality. The same positive things can also be said of the quality of the music and the voice acting.

Jumping to conclusions?

I'm pleased with my experience of Moëbius, although I've not had any inkling as to the reasoning behind the choice of name yet. Presumably that'll be clear when the whole game is upon us.

The characters have some mysteries about them. They're clearly intelligent, thinking people, not immediately given to violent solutions to their problems. Malachi Rector himself still has some rough edges I'd like to see removed; he's somewhat abrasive and unpleasant towards people he doesn't like. But he does seem to have a way of getting people to reveal things to him, and his analytical skills are second to none. Exactly the characteristics you want to find in an investigator... Now bring on the rest of the cases!