Daedalic: Navigating The Adventure Labyrinth

By John Walker on March 8th, 2008 at 1:59 am.

Germany really seems to be standing up for the point and click adventure. With varying results. At the shinier end is Deck13′s Ankh, but more often by the time they’re in our English-speaking hands the humour is completely lost by poor translations and localisation. Nevermind the crappy puzzle design that’s currently endemic throughout the genre.

So, is there hope on the horizon from German developers Daedalic Entertainment? They’ve got not seventy, not minus six hundred, but three new point-n-clickers due over the next couple of years. Here thems are:

A New Beginning

This one is apparently an “eco-thriller”, telling us about the issues of climate change in gaming form. Set in the distant future where we’ve buggered up Earth beyond repair, the only logical response is time travel. After heading back to 2050, and then even earlier, what results is a globe-trotting adventure that aims prioritise story over puzzles. While it’s likely to be tricky to avoid being preachy, it’ll be nice to be literally saving the world for once. Plus the hand-drawn 2D design is exactly the right environment for adventuring, using over twenty layers to create its stylish look. What it needs to remember is to be fun.

The Whispered World

This is a bit of a rescue. TWW was original to be published by Bad Brain, then had a brief an unsuccessful life as a fan-made freeware project. Now Daedalic have picked up all the rights, and are developing to completion. Cleverly, the company has hired Marco Hüllen, the man whose graduation project the game first existed to be. Due Winter this year, it’s another 2D, traditionally animated adventure, telling the story of Sadwick, a young clown in a fairy tale world. How happy and lovely – except he’s on a “disappointing search for meaning in his life.” Buddied by a fat green worm called Spot, The Whispered World seems to be putting its focus on melancholy. You know what – that’s a really splendid idea, and a mood that far too few games have aimed for. While the setting and design doesn’t grab me at all, simply that – a melancholic tale – has me intrigued.

Edna and Harvey: The Breakout

It’s odd that the most imminent (due in May) game should have no website of its own, nor any screenshots available. The game’s logo is below, too big to chop into one of our sexy letterbox graphics. This is also the game that looks most doomed to suffer in relocation. It’s ‘wacky’. Edna wakes up in an insane asylum, in a padded cell, with no memory, other than a certainty that she’s wrongly imprisoned. Her absolute sanity is confirmed when her stuffed rabbit, Harvey, tells her so. So bust them out you must, while meeting the keerrrazzeee characters inhabiting the, er, mental institution. My flashing red nose is going off, which is always a sign that something seems too self-consciously zany. Let’s hope not, but the logo’s design looks a bit web-toony for comfort. [Anti Pessimism Edit: I'm too judgemental here. I've not even seen a screen of the game to make a call. My instincts are worried based on history, but obviously it's not fair to condemn this at all.]

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15 Comments »

  1. mister slim says:

    Does A New Beginning’s ending involve traveling back to the year 2007 to start a game company called Daedalic Entertainment to use as a cover while creating a game about traveling back in time to save the planet? Cause that would be awesome.

  2. Daedalic_Carsten says:

    How could you know this?

    We need to evacuate you from this time.

  3. Theory says:

    I am enlightened and intrigued.

  4. drunkymonkey says:

    Wasn’t Simon the Sorcerer 4 being made in Germany? I still want my hands on that.

  5. malkav11 says:

    Those screens from A New Beginning look *gorgeous*. I am always pleased when people remember that, yes, modern technology can create fantastic 2D graphics as well.

    Beyond that, I reserve judgment.

  6. simonkaye says:

    Oh John, perhaps you’re being too pessimistic about Edna and Harvey? I for one think that the logo graphic is extremely charming (she reminds me of my sister). It’ll all come down to the writing, in the end; always does with adventure games.

  7. John Walker says:

    Simon – I really hope I’m being too pessimistic. I’m certainly a little jaded having just reviewed a German adventure that doesn’t work at all. It’s just, if there’s a game that history says will miss, it’s this style.

    My motive is to nudge Daedalic not to make the same mistakes, and work really hard to check their localisation gets the attention it deserves. They’re reading – hi Daedalic! Give the localisation the attention it deserves!

    I have the solution for this, as it happens. Get a non-German speaking English/American person to play through the game, and rewrite whatever doesn’t work. Non-German speaking because that person is far less likely to be sympathetic to the naunces of Deutsch grammar. The tragedy is when you can see what the joke was *meant* to be, lost behind mistranslation or poorly directed voice acting.

  8. Daedalic_Carsten says:

    yes, we are reading…

  9. James G says:

    @drunkenmonkey

    Yes, it is. I’m keeping a vague eye on it, having loved the first two Simon games. The third game was, in my opinion, poor, although that wasn’t helped by the clunky and dated 3D engine that the game had been shoe-horned into. The screenshots I’ve seen so far suggests that this new outing will at least capture the gaphical character of the first two games.

    Of course, perhaps part of my disapointment with the third game is just rooted in the fact that I’m older now.

    I love the graphic adventure, or at least loved. But in recent years the RPG has gained more favour. Partly due to the sheer lack of titles, but also due to developers seeming need to cram in action elements and the like. I’m afraid to say that even Dreamfall is on hiatus due to the annoying stealth sections and even more annoying combat.

  10. John Walker says:

    James – I don’t think it was your age : ) Simon 3D was an attrocious mess – a game so bad that when it was first sent for review, PC Gamer sent it back telling them they’d not even half-finished it, and the devs added another six months. Even after that, the ‘finished’ game was littered with not only bugs, but chunks of missing dialogue. Even if it hadn’t been unfinished and crudly made, it was one of the most remarkably unpleasant games I’ve played. The Simon character was such a nasty, spiteful shit that it was repelling to be in control of him.

  11. Optimaximal says:

    …so would you be if you’d just been resurrected from the dead…

    Some fans are porting Simon the Sorceror 3 back into the 2nd games engine and a demo can be found here. I don’t know if it’ll ever be finished though

  12. Gylfi.Fenriz. says:

    Who cares about the story ?
    Adventures just need good puzzle mechanisms, that is, a good concept for them, and dreamy atmosphere.

    And that’s that.

  13. MisterBritish says:

    @ Gylfi:

    May Ragnar himself strike you down.

  14. John Walker says:

    “Who cares about the story ?”

    Me! I do! Pick me!

  15. malkav11 says:

    And me. Adventure games are actually one of the game mediums where story is most important. I mean, puzzles are okay and everything but without context they’d better be pretty damned awesome puzzles.