Evil Days of Luckless John Review
|Release Date:||September 1st, 2007 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
Another day, another mediocre adventure game, despite a good effort by the production team to make this one stand out from the herd, all they manage to do is turn your typical point and click into a complicated jack-of-all-trades, which ironically is master of none.
Luckless John, a thirty something with a bad suit and a worse hairstyle, isn't a very lucky man. He has failed in everything he's ever attempted, and he's not exactly popular with anyone. But, when a relative mysteriously dies, John inherits the deed to one of Snake city's casinos- so, things should be looking up?
Nope, the Mafia, led by the not-stereotypical-in-any-way Don Macaroni, want the casino, and they're willing to do anything to get it, forcing John to go through badly designed FPS shooting, poorly executed 'stealth' sections and even the occasional worryingly bad driving section.
Usually I wouldn't be so critical of a game so early on, but this one feels like an opportunity wasted by the wrong intentions.
The game is rendered in a 'comedy' style, which is actually quite funny. Buildings and environments are fun to look at, and despite the occasional flawed pixel and far too many shadow effects the game is nice to look at, if a little too brash.
The 28 or-so characters have angular faces and are designed to look ridiculous; for example, the Mafia enforcers consist of a tall man with a face that looks like it's had an iron hanging off it for a week, and a man so short that his own Tommy Gun dwarfs him.
Voice acting wise, John is the weak link, sounding about as wooden as possible without actually being a tree. The other characters are actually quite funny, there are some great one-liners, and I can actually admit to having the occasional chuckle at some of the conversations.
The period that the game is set in- 1920's America- is a good match for the style of the game, and the 'speak-easy' music that runs throughout the games adds a nice atmosphere to the crazy plot.
So, down to the bad bits. The control system is a good idea, but executed poorly, rather than using the mouse to control John, the mouse simply orients him on the screen, and players need to use the arrows or the WASD keys to move him around. However, odd viewpoints and misshapen environments make these controls clunky and difficult, and much time is wasted trying to get John to pick up something, and not keep running into the wall next to it.
Puzzle wise the game is a breeze, a press of a key brings up symbols representing things John can interact with, so no more annoying pixel searching, but when the puzzles consist of 'insert A into B to open C' you can't help wondering what the point is to the whole experience. Some of the puzzles were so easy that they can even be completed by accident.
As well as the mediocre puzzles, the game offers some horrifically bad 'action' scenes. It seems that the developers, not content with making another adventure game, decided to try out some other genres, from FPS to driving sims.
Throughout John's less than exciting adventure, you will occasionally be called on to use a Tommy Gun to shoot at Mafia brutes, or throw a brick at some scaffolding, or sneak past a prison guard, or drive your way to freedom in a car chase. And while the developers had the best of intentions, the whole idea just doesn't come off.
The FPS section is a little pointless, with a bad aiming system and rubbish sound effects. The stealth section is even worse, with AI so bad that sometimes John can be standing right in front of a guard who just refuses to notice him, despite how much you keep trying to make John go through the door and not run into a wall.
As for the driving, the controls are so bad that I spent most of my time running into invisible walls with my ridiculously misshapen pick up truck, listening to the constant 'Yee-Haw's' of my hillbilly passengers.
All in all, a good idea, poorly executed. John could have benefited from a little more development before being sent out into the world, and hopefully the developers will stick to point and click adventure in the future and leave shooters and stealth to other companies.
- Nice graphics
- Actually quite funny
- Character design made me chuckle
Not so good stuff
- Confusing controls
- Easy puzzles
- Is it a FPS? Is it a driving sim? No, it's a mediocre adventure game!
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