|Release Date:||February 27th, 2009 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
For me, the very peak of adventure gaming is the Monkey Island series. Combining clever puzzle solving with a great story and cracking jokes is a recipe for success, and I remember playing Escape from Monkey Island four or five times before I eventually got bored of it.
So then, as the makers of Ceville proudly claim on the box that the game is made 'in the style of Monkey Island', I was quite pleased to be sent this little point and click wonder- and rightly so.
While the majority of adventure games I've reviewed have been 'OK' most are lacking in story, feature obnoxious main characters or involve cross-dressing, so it was nice to find a game whose developers seem to have had a genuinely fun time making. This pleasurable effort translates nicely over to the game itself, which is a lot of fun indeed.
So, to the plot: The namesake of the game, Ceville, is a tiny tyrant holding domination over the fair land of Faeryanis.
While sitting on his throne one day (trying to decide how to punish the big bad wolf for blowing down the three little pigs' houses) a load of peasants turn up and depose him, shoving him into a comically small jail cell.
What the peasants don't know is that Ceville's ex-advisor and all-round evildoer Basilus has dark plans for the kingdom, so it's up to Ceville to break out of jail with the help of a little girl called Lilly and incredibly vain knight Ambrosius, travel all across the land and stop Basilus' evil schemes before it's too late.
The gameplay itself is typical point-and-click adventure fair; with Ceville and his co-idiots solving puzzles both fiendish and simple to move from one screen to the next. Along the way the team have to solve all kinds of puzzles, involving everything from extremely smelly cheese to an old gent shackled to a wall, mice, jukeboxes, olive oil, rats, a large monster called Bradley and everything in between.
The player can switch between characters and pass items from one person to another, some puzzles require all three characters to be used at once but the one-click dynamic for switching between them makes this a painless and enjoyable challenge. Along the way they run into all kinds of strange characters, most of whom are a constant source of laughs, coming out with all sorts of strange comments and ideas, especially when facing up against Ceville's own non-stop sarcasm.
Basilus himself is very funny in his own evil way- upon first revealing his evil plan to Ceville, he makes several references to other evil masterminds in popular culture and demonstrates his evil laugh, which then results in the pair of evil tyrants having an argument about who's evil laugh is the most evil- moments such as these pop up often, and always amuse.
The other NPC that litter the world are a variety of weird and wonderful characters. There's the two bumbling palace guards, the crazed French chef, the dodgy Spanish merchant, the angry peasantry and Horny the Horned Reaper, who has a habit of turning up at the most inopportune time with a sarcastic comment- each character has his or her own comedic effect, and watching them all interact is a source of even more amusement.
Graphically the game is pleasant to look at and seems to match the content perfectly. Locations stretch from castles and dungeons to seaside towns, ships, wide-open fields and more than a few prison cells.
Unlike many adventure games, pixel-searching is not a necessity, as a press of the spacebar will bring up a list of what can and what can't be interacted with, though it doesn't list what can be combined with something in your inventory, not that this is a major problem.
Combining items in Ceville is also simple and effective. Unlike many other adventure games I've reviewed, figuring out what to do is not an uphill struggle and figuring out what goes with what for whatever is straightforward and sensible- nothing about mixing potions or making a fake bottle of wine to tempt away a beggar sleeping in a photo booth here.
Sound-wise, the game doesn't disappoint. The voice actors for each role are well chosen and have their own brand of comedy. Ceville's trademark sneer and Ambrosius' vanity are two standout roles.
The voice acting is also accompanied by a nice variety of ambient music and little music tributes. For example when Ceville swings out of a window on a curtain rope attached to an axe, a little ditty sounding something like the Indiana Jones theme plays, adding another comedic level to the already-amusing scene.
The gameplay is simple but effective, occasionally throwing in a section when Ceville and co. have to figure out what to do within a set time limit, and even once or twice where failing has some pretty dire (but still funny) consequences.
The only downside to the gameplay is the slightly shoddy camera. Unlike a lot of other adventure games, Ceville doesn't rely on a fixed view, instead having a camera which follows the player character around depending on where the player clicks on the screen.
This results in the camera occasionally getting stuck and slowing the game down, or certain items not being displayed until Ceville, Ambrosius or Lilly make their way to that side of the screen- a minor point, but one which left me looking for an item for half an hour which turned out to be just off-screen.
Overall, Ceville is a return to my fondly remembered childhood adventure gaming sessions. The story is fun to follow and each of the three player characters has their own fantastic character and sees their odd world of myths and fairies in their own way. This will keep you smiling for hours.
- Hilarious dialogue and story
- Easy to play
- Lots of in-jokes
Not so good stuff
- Dodge camera
- A little too easy at points
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