“I’d rather rent the movie.”
The Arrival is an adventure game loosely based around the movie of the same name. Just like the movie, the aliens are thirsting for new ways to induce the greenhouse effect on planet Earth to make it a more pleasant place… for them. You, the gamer, have been abducted and taken to a space station. As you escape from your holding cell and snoop around the station, you must uncover the alien’s plans for Earth’s demise, and somehow stop it.
The gameplay and interface in this game were very badly done. Gameplay is widely based upon finding items in certain places, and I found myself scouring the station top to bottom just looking for some small item I may have missed. The game is based upon a linear plot; however, the game allows free movement. I really don’t understand why the designers combined these styles, because they don’t mix well at all (this game is proof!). If you’re supposed to accomplish a certain task before moving on to another area, then make it known to the gamer that he/she must do just that, instead of leaving the gamer looking around the ENTIRE station trying to find out what he/she may have missed earlier. And with the ways this game hides clues, it can leave even an experienced adventurer VERY frustrated! Along with slow gameplay, the interface wasn’t given too much thought when coming to quick, easy usage. It was difficult to use; no hot keys were assigned to the functions, and it was confusing to learn.
Like most adventure games, game play is mouse-based, and there is no combat action involved. But for some reason, the designers chose to combine the gameplay of Myst (where you click right or left, and an entirely new screen shot from that angle loads independently), and the gameplay of newer adventure games such as Shivers 2 (with panoramic views where you are free to pan smoothly up, down, left, or right at your own will). I fail to understand the reason for using both; just an example of another inconsistency in the production of this game.
The one and only thing that this game had was graphics. The scenarios were well done, accompanied with great cinematics and actual animations showing you walking across a room. Unfortunately, these graphic accomplishments only hold your attention so long when the game is simply boring.
I wasn’t impressed by the sound effects in this game at all. They weren’t horrible; many were very appropriate, but overall the game was very quiet. There weren’t very many actions, or areas that made a lot of noise. The developers could have put sounds in certain areas to enhance the tone of the game, but once again, The Arrival fell short.
Can I ask someone what is up with these “Solve Puzzle” buttons that these games have today? I mean, HELLO? What the hell’s the point of buying a puzzle-based game if you’re going to take the easy way out all the time and hit the solve button? I don’t know about you guys, but when I buy a game like this, I’d like to solve the puzzles myself, after all, that’s supposed to be the point! If The Arrival gets too difficult for you (or in my case, too boring) you have the option of hitting the “?” key to first get 3 hints, and then just hit a button to solve the puzzle. So for all you out there who like to spend 50 bucks to hit the question mark a few times, it’s all yours, but personally I think I’d rather do it at a DOS prompt and save the money for a REAL game.
I found The Arrival to fall considerably short compared to other great adventure games. With so much left out, The Arrival has almost nothing on the competition. Never did I find multiple ways of solving a puzzle. What really got my attention about this game, is that the game never branched off. It hardly ever went into any variation, and decisions were rare. Overall, the game was boring. And for all you out there who would think you’d like the game just because you like the movie so much, the game has hardly anything to do with the movie. The only similarity is the fact that the aliens need heat. If you just changed their need for heat to a need for [water/air/brains/oatmeal – you pick], the game would have nothing to do with the movie. Save your money, go rent the movie, buy a package of Hoho’s, a 2 liter of Coke, and you’ll have a much better time getting fat and watching it, rather than wasting your time playing it.