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Review – The Inlaws (PC)

Released: 01.21.2010 |  Golem Labs

I’m labeling this, Episode 1 because when this game was made, there was an idea for an Episode 2.  There doesn’t seem to have ever been an Episode 2 produced however.  Kind of a shame since this game isn’t completely terrible and it’s relatively short.  It’s not a spectacular game either though and has a few game breaking bugs in it so it may be a goo thing there isn’t an Episode 2.

This game takes the idea of Episodic gaming and combines it with the idea of Episodic Television, specifically, episodic cartoon television.  Not so much Bugs Bunny, more, Oblongs or Family Guy, though the humor isn’t really quite up to the level of Family Guy.  It’s not without it’s humorous oh brother moments though.  The basic premise is that you play as Ed, a large goofball father of two and your goal is this Item Gathering adventure is to sabotage your Nephew Inlaw’s birthday party.  Not so much because Ed dislike’s his nephew but more because he dislikes his Inlaws in general….. or something….

It’s not really a point and click adventure since the mouse does no more than control the camera as you navigate around the house and backyard setting of the story.  It still has the same sort of gameplay as a point and click adventure however.  Essentially, you gather items which can be combined and used with other items to cause often comical results.  You have two main goals, sabotage the entertainment at the party and sabotage the presents.  You have to complete the presents mission before you sabotage the entertainment and completing the second objective will end the game.  The whole process takes about a half hour to an hour depending on how great you are at solving Adventure Game logic.  There’s a help system if you get stuck but the game tends to be really obvious about what to do next and you’ll forfeit your points if you use the help system.

It took me a bit longer to complete the game however because, while the game is really good about giving clues as to where to go next, it also has several game crippling bugs.  Firstly, the game crashed completely at least 3 times.  One of these times I was getting ready to quit out anyway so it wasn’t a huge deal and the other I was using the print screen key to capture a screenshot to an external program I use so that may have been related.

Also on two occurrences, the audio failed to play.  Overall the voice work is great for the game, everyone sounds good and the voices all fit the characters.  But when a character is explaining what to do and you can’t hear them then you’re kind of screwed.  I only managed to figure out where to look because I talked to the character a second time and they repeated a condensed version of what they had previously said.

Even worse is the third bug.  Right near the end of the game, I needed to create a distraction so the Sister InLaw would leave the kitchen.  After wandering around and talking to everyone one repeatedly and trying to use everything I had on everyone.  I finally gave up and quit.  When i returned to the game later, I found that Ed’s son, whom I had sent off later with a bottle rocket was sitting in the middle of the yard where he hadn’t been before.  I actually suspected something like this would happen since I had used the help system and the star locator appeared off the map and the Son was nowhere to be found anywhere in the house.

It kind of sucks that these issues had to crop up considering the presentation here is really nice.  The game’s 3D cartoony graphics are top notch as is the voice work.  The idea of a sitcom style episodic game is interesting as well, though the release schedule probably could stand to be ramped up a bit to take advantage of the idea a bit better.  There is promise on Golem Labs’ website of a second Episode set on a beach with some screen shots though nothing listed about a release date or if it’s even being worked on.

I’m going to end here with one last bit of a downer.  the Retail on this normally is $9.99, which is pretty steam considering how short it is.  I got it on sale for $2.50 though $4.99 would probably be an ok price if there were more episodes to go for and some of the bugs were addressed.

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