By Alice O'Connor on April 23rd, 2014 at 8:00 am.
You know how Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure was supposed to launch yesterday? It didn’t. “In order to,” in the words of Tex Murphy co-creator and uncanny lookalike Chris Jones, “make sure this game is as clean and tight as can be,” it’s been pushed back at short notice. The crowdfunded revival adventure game is now due on May 7, developers Big Finish Games announced a few days ago. Waiting another few weeks won’t hurt you too much after sixteen years, unless you woke up late having booked the day off work, wrapped a trenchcoat around yourself, popped on your fedora, and cracked that bottle of whiskey you’ve been saving.
Your preparations needn’t go entirely to waste. To the surprise of us here at RPS Towers, so possibly you too, a demo was quietly oh so quietly a fortnight ago. It’s up on Steam for your playing pleasure or perhaps displeasure, depending on how fondly you remember old adventure games.
Judging from the demo, Tesla Effect does a solid job of bringing back the futuristic gumshoe and that late-nineties style of adventure game. I got to solve a lock tumbler puzzle, slide tiles around to complete a picture and find a code for a safe, rotate several objects in a room to unlock a secret passage, and hunt down five individual Wood Planks then combine them with a bucket of Rusty Nails to create Rusty Nails & Wood Planks then combine that with a Hammer to create a Ladder Repair Kit to cross a broken bridge that would’ve been passable with a half-broken ladder.
It does have a hint system, costing points you may not care about, and is forgiving with frequent saves to bring Tex back when he dies (but then what’s the point?). It’s classic adventure game stuff, really, and perhaps exactly what its Kickstarter backers were after. Fair enough. It’s not for me, and unlikely to create new adventure game fans.
This isn’t helped by the demo teasing with glimpses of glimmering post-apocalyptic San Francisco and Tex’s weird noir pastiche of a life then hopping in a hovercar to visit a spooky house in a spooky swamp. I’d go for more of that gumshoe gubbins.
It’s nice to see Tex himself, though. The daffy detective wanders around a campy daydream, unable to lay eyes upon common household items without cracking a joke, and being surprisingly sarky to a mouldering mutant who had spent several minutes staring at us across a broken bridge and screaming “Die!” Relentlessly upbeat, that Tex. And by gum, I was glad to see the return of composite FMV. Unfortunately for me, all this comes in a late-nineties adventure game.
Do be warned that if you avoid saying ‘casual’ and ‘gamer’ because they’re awful and useless terms used by awful and useless people, you will need to pick a side. I feel I’ve compromised myself.
Anywho, here’s a new video with Big Finish gabbing about the game and its delay: