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10 minutes in Heaven.
How do you preview a game which you have only spent 10 minutes with? That’s a question I am asking myself while writing this here piece on Exgenesis, the upcoming point-and-click adventure from 48h Studio. I was only granted a meager 600 seconds in the presence of this seemingly obtuse title (perhaps the game is more self-explanatory as time wears on... I couldn’t tell you, I only spent 10 minutes with it), which puts me in the same position of a food critic who is told he can only taste one prawn from a restaurant’s starter menu before being asked to go home and prattle on about what he thinks said restaurant is perhaps capable of.
I suppose writing about 10 minutes spent in the company of, say, a fighting or a shooting game would be an easier task, because those are two genres of games which you can garner a “feel” for even if you’ve spent just 600 billion nanoseconds with them, as I did with Exgenesis. On the other hand, point-and-click games are reliant upon you being immersed in their story and their puzzle mechanics, neither of which I could explore during my playtime.
So, how do I go about conveying my one-sixth of an hour spent with Exgenesis in a preview? That’s a rhetorical question, of course; by the time you’re reading this I have already written the preview, and I’m probably sitting down to enjoy my dinner. My girlfriend has informed me that we’re having tagliatelle tonight. Mmm, tagliatelle.
First, I should probably explain what Exgenesis is about from the point of view of a guy who still doesn’t know the answer to that question. In the demo of the game, I was placed in the shoes of an unnamed man who awakens to find himself in what seems to be a dystopian future (as all futures are), discovering a mysterious book in his apartment (which features an X-Files “I Want to Believe” poster on its wall) that leads him through a door in a towering tree, that has inexplicably placed itself in the center of the ruined city the protagonist calls home.
As is typically the case in a point-and-click adventure, I spent the majority of my time with the demo clicking inanimate objects. If I held down the space bar, the game helpfully highlighted important objects, meaning that I needn’t develop arthritis from over-exerting my clicking finger.
I was given a few little glimpses at the game’s story by way of a couple of cutscenes, in which my importance to the game’s world was made clear to me by a silhouetted character who referred to me as the “chosen one.” These scenes would crop up when the lead character fell unconscious, with him apparently dealing with some form of narcolepsy. Either that or he’s just very, very tired, but if that’s the case, then falling asleep while on a voyage to a different world seems a little disrespectful.
After venturing through the door in the tree, I was greeted by a simplistic puzzle where I simply had to put two levers in a large musical contraption in order to get it to operate correctly. I was then allowed access to a portal to what appeared to be a new world or dimension, with me being placed at the foot of a path leading to an enormous cylindrical structure in the distance. When I attempted to press on with my journey, I was met with a ‘To Be Continued’ screen, informing me that my short voyage had come to an end.
And that was my time with Exgenesis. While its art direction was nice, with it having a washed-out, almost watercolor aesthetic, and the promise of eventually making it to that large building in the distance piqued my interest somewhat, from the small amount of time I got to spend with the game I didn’t really learn anything else about it that I hadn’t already seen from its screenshots. I used to love point-and-click adventure games back in the ‘90s (I spent an almost disturbing amount of time back in ‘96 playing a mediocre Ace Venture game) and this is definitely one of those, but spending 10 minutes with a game that occupies a genre in which immersion is key was a little counter-intuitive.
Maybe if I ever get more hands-on time with the game I’ll fall in love with. Maybe I won’t. I’ll let you know if that opportunity ever presents itself.