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Adventure Games

Review – Runaway: A Road Adventure (PC)

Runaway A Road Adventure Site Banner

Péndulo Studios, S.L. | August 28, 2003

So Adventure Games are a bit different than your other game genres.  You often can’t lose and the emphasis is more on the narrative than the “gameplay”.  It’s much closer to being like an interactive novel.  That said, the story can make or break an adventure game easily.  I’ve done a bit of history already here on my plans for upping my intake of Adventure Games.  No need to cover that ground again.  Runaway was the first title I chose in this push, it’s a title I’ve been sitting on for a fairly long time in my queue of games and I like the 3D cartoon style graphics it presents.

ScreenShot080 I’ll also preface this by mentioning I used a walkthrough to get through this game.  I am a bit of a novice when it comes to this sort of game, though I hope some of the problems I encountered in this title are not the “norm”.  i get the whole idea of searching the scene for objects and examining them, collecting clues and useful trinkets.  I also get the idea of having to sometimes get creative with items.  My issue with how this is handled though are with some of the mechanics more than anything.  There are several points where you talk to a person or give them an item, and your next step is to leave the area, then come back to talk to the same person again.  Personally, this feels a bit counter intuitive.  You successfully complete a step, you’re unlikely to put redoing that step very high on your list of “where to check next”.  This could easily lead to some wasted effort looking for clues and feels very much like an excuse for the game to reload a scene or dialogue set more than a need of the plot.  It’s a very computer logic reason more than a story plot reason.  The game is also inconsistent with this as occasionally you are told “come back in an hour” and the game goes through this action of leaving and returning for you.

ScreenShot070I also had some issues with item detection when scanning some scenes.  The one that really sticks out is finding a key near a train locomotive.  I knew the key was supposed to be there via the walkthrough, I even knew where it was supposed to be in the scene, but I still had trouble finding it and it didn’t show up on the ground visibly.

Also there are a few fairly annoying leaps of logic that one must take to get past certain obstacles.   This leads to a bit more trial an error methodology than figuring out where to go based on clues.  For example the idea of making bullets out of lipstick tubes is a little bit of a stretch.

ScreenShot114 Fortunately, the storyline is pretty good.  There are surprisingly few holes and conveniences in the plot and it’s interesting enough to keep the player interested.  The basic premise is, Brian, the character you control, accidentally hits Gina with his car as she is running from some Mob guys.  Brian feels responsible and gets tangled up in Gina’s affairs as they trace down the secret to an old crucifix Gina has.  Secrets are revealed as Brian and Gina get closer to the truth and must work to thwart the Mob goons hot on their trail.  It closes out nicely as a stand alone plot but could easily lead to the plot of the second game of the series.  I am looking forward to playing the second game as well though I’ll be holding off on that for a bit. 

ScreenShot106 The presentation is also great as well, though there is one major flaw which I’ll get to.  The graphics are nice and decently animated.  I do have some issues with the inconsistent feel during some of the later cut scenes where they seem to have used a few mixed techniques to make the scenes.  The shadow technique actually makes the 3D models look particularly terrible.  Everything is fully voice acted as well, and it’s done very well, which helps hold the story together all around.  My chief complaint is in the cut scenes and their length.  If you’re playing this game, make sure you block out some time because you’ll often encounter cut scenes without any warning and there are several which last an upwards of 20 minutes.  These tend to occur between chapters but I think there may have been one in the middle of one of the later chapters.

I also am giving some of my general difficulty with the game mechanics some benefit of the doubt in that I am not excessively familiar with this genre of game.  Runaway feels like it is a bit more of an advanced title.  I found it to be very enjoyable and look forward to the second game, which i hope may not have quite so many of the logic flaws and lengthy cut scenes.  It’s probably not a good title to pick up as an entry level title to the Adventure Gaming genre however.

Review – Shadowgate Classic (GBC)

1 Player

Graphics: 6/10
I’m sure they would be a bit better if I had a GBC to play this game on, however since I
only have an original black and white GB, it kind of limits the graphics.  Also some of
graphics aren’t all that great.  The perspectives seem weird, ect.  They are identical to
the NES version of this game.  The menu set up is different, but this is more to accommodate
the smaller GB screen.

Music and Sound: 6/10
Not all that many sound effects.  Doors opening, the occasional fire blast.  It’s not much
of an action game.  The music changes at least every once in a while.  The music tends to
match the mood, it gets suspenseful when something evil appears, etc.  Nothing all that

Gameplay: 6/10
A nice puzzle solving game.  I think I’d have enjoyed this game a bit more if I hadn’t
played it so many years ago on the NES.  There is fairly little replay value in this game.
Once you play through once and now what to do it’s the same thing every time.  It’s not
even action filled like an RPG would be.  This is the biggest drawback of this game.

Overall: 6/10
If you like Uninvited or Deja Vu (both NES) then I would recommend this game.  If you
really liked this game on NES and don’t have a copy I would say go ahead and get it, but
you may find it’s not all that hard.

Tip: Not many codes for this game.  Just make sure you pick up everything you can and
save often.