PREVIEWSPillars of Eternity Preview
For Obsidian's crowdfunded love letter to Infinity Engine games like Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate, I was impressed by its willingness to pull back the curtain and let me see the machinery behind it.
We've all been there. Everyone remembers that mission. You and your partner are climbing up the mountains in the snow, striving to pull some slick clandestine operation about getting some intel on a bad guy, or something similar (because let's face...
The adventure genre as we once knew it has been dead for a few years now. Don't bother fooling yourself by saying it hasn't, because that's what's happened. And frankly, this game pretty much served only to highlight what the main problems with the genre was.
It wasn't how they needed to put in more and more non-conventional puzzles the solutions of which would escape anyone but the most "combine everything with everything" kind of people, although there is that too. It isn't only how most of the games would tend to rely more and more on gags instead of an engaging overall story, although there is that too, and it helps highlighting the real issue:
You don't actually replay an adventure game. Second time around, you don't solve anything, you merely go through the motions a second time. And why would you do it a second time? The gags have, with a few exceptions, stopped being fresh by then, and if there is no story that keeps you engaged á la Grim Fandango (in my opinion the last great adventure game released), it turns boring really fast. At least in other genres there's still a test of skill, still possible to die if you lose concentration for a second or make a wrong strategic choice.
Be that as it may, let's take a look at Escape From Monkey Island, Lucasart's attempt to revive the genre, ported to the PS2 to allow console gamers a stab a the genre. It contains... Well, it contains pretty much all you'd expect from it. A true adventure game from beginning to end, with the usual heaps of puzzles, gags, and everyone showing no respect to Gyubrush Trepwood, which is just as it should be. I mean, what else is there to say?
Well, there are a few things. First of all, this game has a tendency to lock up at inconvenient moments. Not only one place, but several different places. On a console where patching is impossible, this kind of sloppy programming is downright inexcusable.
Secondly, the one attempt of doing something different is something called "Monkey Kombat". The less said about that, the much, much better.
The graphics are perfectly proper for the game, staying cartoonish and true to the Monkey Island style. Characters also happen to be in 3D now, but without neither losing nor gaining anything in terms of personality. Music and sound effects and voice acting all pretty much do the job, but there is nothing spectacular about either.
And there's pretty much nothing spectacular about this game either. It was an arm suddenly waving for a moment, but it turned out to be an involuntary reflex, and that the coma continues. Even for the fans of the series, this game really only warrants a rental to relive the days of glory. It's better that way, because you don't really want to be reminded about the state of the genre every time you look at the game shelf and see it gathering dust after that one playthrough.