Friday, 20 May 2016

Review - Demetrios: The BIG Cynical Adventure

Bjorn's apartment - this is the neatest part of it, probably.
Demetrios: The BIG Cynical Adventure is a comedy point and click which is loosely a parody of the Broken Sword games, but definitely has enough about it to stand up in its own right.   You play the role of  Bjorn Thonen, an antiques dealer in Paris, who receives a mysterious call warning him of something, dismisses it immediately, and then gets knocked out in a robbery.  The game is first-person but somehow feels more like third-person when you’re playing it – you don’t see your character walking around the locations but when you talk to someone, you get extremely expressive, well-animated close-ups of Bjorn and whoever he’s talking to.

The cartoony graphics are marvellously drawn and very well animated, so even though the backgrounds are mostly static, the many interactions on each screen make it really feel alive.  The music is great too, and the sound effects... well they’re pretty good, although also sometimes pretty gross.  My only real complaint about Demetrios is the amount of toilet and gross-out humour it contains.  Well that and some profanity, though considering the over 15,000 lines of dialogue in the game, there really isn’t that much.  There is plenty of humour otherwise that will have you smiling or chuckling. 

One of the mini-games in action.

The game is divided into 6 chapters and apart from one small section where you play as Sandra (Bjorn’s girlfriend... sort of), you always play the role of Bjorn, who is quite happy to do incredibly stupid things (sometimes repeatedly).  Some of the humour stems from the multiple ways you can die or end up in prison – the game always goes straight back to the point before that straight away though, finding intriguing ways to die or be incarcerated is like a badge of honour here!  (It’s also involved in the achievements, and points gained towards unlocking music, concept art and mini-games.)  There is a lot of fun to be had, although the part where you played as Sandra felt like a missed opportunity – that section was small, very linear, and not nearly so much fun because even though she’s an airhead she refuses point-blank to do suicidal stupid things.

While humour is obviously a key part of the game, the plot once you get into it is good, and in fact has a plot twist right at the end that borders on genius.  In fact Chapter 6 had my wife and I laughing out loud a few times, even if gameplay-wise it wasn’t as strong as the rest of the game.  Also it was the only chapter where I felt that the game really came across as truly “cynical”.  Bjorn's exchanges with Sandra's repulsive 8 year-old daughter Caroline are sometimes very funny, although again sometimes pretty gross.

Is this funny, gross, or both?  You decide...
In each scene there are tiny cookies to be found, which if Bjorn eats (and he will eat virtually anything!), you can get a hint.  The puzzles vary quite widely in type and difficulty, and I think I used about 12 out of 88 cookies (a couple of them simply to check the hint system, which is very good, and the others because I needed them!) – the game took me 9 hours to complete and I had managed to get just over half of the achievements.  There is a personal message from the game’s developer when you complete the game, which is a nice touch.  There are some mini-games scattered throughout the adventure, most of which are pretty fun.

In true Broken Sword style, you have to do a bit of travelling in this adventure.  There are a few digs at Broken Sword and adventure games in general, but you don't already have to be a point and click fan to enjoy this, it's really a very accessible and slick interface and everything is adequately explained that needs to be.

All in all Demetrios: The BIG Cynical Adventure is a superbly made game, and will appeal to almost all adventure game fans.  The crude humour I wasn’t keen on but despite this, it was the first game in a long time that really had me hooked, I was really eager to find out what happened next.  It's all the more impressive considering it was made by a solo dev!

Demetrios will be available on Steam from 31st May 2016.

The land that the tourist trade forgot...

Post a Comment