Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle Review
|Release Date:||March 9th, 2007 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
If you haven't played the original 'Runaway' then this game will probably make you feel like its hero feels as soon as the first cut seen is over, stuck in a jungle searching for your girlfriend to give you some comfort. Put simply, this game can drive you so mad you will want to go and find the nearest person to give you a hug.
But, back to the beginning, Brian Basco, a tanned, surfer style guy with an innocent manner and a bad goatee, is on holiday with his girlfriend Gina in Hawaii, seemingly without a care in the world. (In the pervious game they had to battle aliens, the mafia and the government, so they deserve a break.) One day Gina suggests a trip out to one of the other islands, and of course the only transport they can find is a rickety old seaplane- but, like all feckless heroes, they decide just to go for it, and before you can say 'predictable' Brian has pushed his girlfriend out of the plane with the last parachute and is bracing himself for a crash landing.
Upon awaking, Brian heroically sets off to find his girlfriend and make sure she is ok, and the adventure begins. And quite an adventure it is too, taking Brian from the tropical island to the cold northern climes of the world, down to a sunken galleon and even into the heart of an archaeological dig. But, despite the wide-ranging adventure put before him, all Brian can come up with is a bad joke and seemingly endless pockets to keep assorted items in.
The game itself is a solid point and click adventure, along the lines of the great Lucasarts classics, with lots of reasonably challenging inventory based puzzles and a quirky manner, but what this game has to offer is greatly overweighed by what it lacks.
Visually, Runaway is simply stunning. The game environments are rendered in a cartoon style that gives each place Brian visits its own soul and beauty, and allows the designers a chance to stretch their fingers and indulge their imaginations - resulting in some pretty wacky scenery which is fun to look at and move around. It is genuinely nice sending Brian walking up and down the beach with the sun coming through the gaps in the palm tree canopy. The problem is that the scenery and rendering is so good that you have to play a game of 'spot the pixellated item' to notice what it is you have to do/pick up/talk to/combine with a balloon to make a bellows.
Sometimes the scenery is so good that you have to start a search pattern with the mouse's pointer to try and spot where it changes into one of the interact icons, such as a hand for grabbing or a 'use' icon- rarely is such beautiful and quirky scenery so entertaining that it prevents game play from continuing.
In the manner of most point and click adventure games, to move Brian to a spot, all you have to do is click and he will do his best to get there, and if he can't he will crack a bad joke and tell you he can't. The problem is that not everything is visible in the screen he is standing in every time, and you have to click on the edge of his screen and watch a jerky animation as he moves to the other side of the screen to discover another perfectly rendered environment with more things to try and find, after a while, it starts to get a little tiring watching Brian doing the same animation of tapping his feet as you scour a screen with your mouse trying to find an object you can interact with hidden among a pile of equally well rendered objects that can't interact with.
The characters of Runaway match the style of the game. The ensemble includes mad scientist and UFO freak Joshua Tarentula, the spider obsessed Russian killing machine who tries to lure you into her web. Knife, the incredibly irritating surfer who always pops up at the wrong time with a faux-witty remark and Lokelani, a sultry bathing beauty who spends most of the game pouting at Brian and making bad sexual innuendo jokes.
For the most part, conversation with this kooky group of misfits is a bland affair, with topic trees for every conversation giving the player the option to skim over the details or go into a deeper debate with the NPC's. The conversations are usually interesting enough to keep you from dropping off, and sometimes they can almost be funny, almost. But after a while you might get fed up of watching the same animation of a character moving while you pick a topic to talk about. (There is only so many times you can stand watching tanned surfer Knife stretch his muscles and sweep back his hair before you want Brian to gut him with the sharp mango you picked up two screens ago.)
The main problem with the characters is that they aren't funny to talk to or watch in cutscenes. For a game that markets itself as an off-the-wall comedy point and click adventure, Runaway is annoyingly un-funny unless you have the mental age of an eight year old. Even Brian, who's calm manner and amazingly deeps pockets endear himself to the player, is notorious for cracking bad jokes, and the NPC's aren't much better, seemingly relying on slapstick humour over good comedy writing to keep the player entertained.
I'm not saying that Runaway isn't funny at all, a few times I nearly broke out laughing, but where as a lot of comedy adventure games will have me giggling like a schoolgirl, all Runaway achieves usually is a light titter from the back of my mind and this is why it is such a let down.
A game like this has so much promise: stunning visuals, clever puzzles, a predictable but charming story and a feckless hero. But the fact that it tries to be funny and fails is a massive mistake for the producers of the title. A quirky and off-the-wall attitude is not enough to persuade gamers to stick to a beautiful but dull gaming experience.
Now I'm off to combine a teabag with a cup of hot water and see if I can get a bad joke out of it.
Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle is a beautiful, quirky game, which fans of the original will love. But if you are new to the series, you can buy the game and enjoy the adventure and problem solving aspects or pass it by for another adventure game which has a better comedy core to its storyline.
- Stunning visuals
- Entertaining story
- Lots to do and see
Not so good stuff
- Poor comedy writing
- Repetitive animations
- Irritating screen searching required
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