Gemini Rue Review (PC)
Gemini Rue is a point n’ click adventure game made by Wadjet Eye Games.
Wadjet Eye as a developer is gradually gaining kudos for its adventure games, with awards been given by the adventure game community and the wider Games Industry.
Gemini Rue harks back to a classic age of point n’ click adventures where every puzzle was solved by either pure deduction or waiting for a walkthrough to be printed in a magazine(yes kids a magazine there was no GameFAQ.com back in the late 80/early 90s).
In Gemini Rue you take the role of a detective called Azrael who is going to meet his brother and take him off World. When your brother doesn’t show you embark on a mission to find him. The game then splits the story into two parts with you also taking control of a man locked in some sort of detention centre with no memory of who he is and why he is locked away. The only thing you know that you have to go through a series of tests which usually revolve around firearms and when you pass the final test your memory will be wiped again and you will be released.
History of Point n’ Click
My gaming history started with early adventure games such as the mighty Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy where you would type commands to navigate screens which represented the world. These text based adventures relied on the users imagination to populate the world and where often very well written. These titles eventually evolved into the point n’ click adventure, where the user was presented with a visual representation of the World and more limited set of ‘verbs’
In this era there were two giants in the genre, Lucas Film Games(later renamed to LucasArts) and Sierra. Lucas Arts made immensely popular and ground breaking games such as Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island series, Day of Tentacle, Indian Jones & The Fate of Atlantis and Full Throttle to name but a few. Lucas Arts’ games tended to be off the wall and have a wicked sense of humour which was guided by designers such as Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer. Sierra on the other hand made more serious adventure games such as King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest Series and the odd one of the bunch the Leisure Suit Larry series. Gemini Rue is very much in the Sierra mold with a set of puzzles which are more story driven rather than based on comedic set piece which was the hallmark of Lucas Arts.
Adventure games have a made a bit of a comeback with the release of Monkey Island 1 & 2 HD remakes which have hit Windows PC, Xbox Live and iOS, the Broken Sword series making its presence know on iOS and also Telltale Games taking on the Lucas Art adventure torch with the release of new episodes of Sam n’ Max and Monkey Islands, and even with new adventure games like Puzzle Agent.
When you first start the game you are presented with a cutscene which depicts a character who is strapped down on a chair awaiting some kind of procedure. He is surrounded by three doctors who are discussing memory wiping. The character wakes up and but the procedure still goes ahead while the doctors hint to the reasons why the character is strapped to the chair.
The game then starts properly and you take the role of Detective called Azrael who is trying to meet up with his brother. Your brother doesn’t show up so you embark on a mission to find him.
While the detective elements of the story remain interesting and engages the player, the rest of the story only becomes more interesting when you switch to the memory wiped character who you first met in the opening cutscene. This part of the story has shades of a Philip K. Dick where the characters via the dialogue discuss the nature of identity and memory.
The graphics hark back to the classic EGA/VGA adventure games with a limited colour palette and ‘blocky’ graphics. While this might not sound very appealing it helps to ground the game in the same family as Sierra games such as Space Quest. The animations are similarly in a retro style, with the characters only having a few frames of animation. The backgrounds of each of the ‘rooms’ give the game some much needed atmosphere and help to evoke a feeling of repression in this future world. In the main district it seems to be constantly raining which to me harks to movies such as Bladerunner and Se7en and helps to reinforce the ‘grimness’ of the game world.
The User Interface will be familiar to any seasoned adventure game player, with a right click a menu that will open up and provide the player with some ‘verbs’ which allow him to interact with the world. These ‘verbs’, while being named after body parts, eye, hand, mouth and foot have similar functionality to the classic talk, pick up, use, look ‘verbs’ that is ubiquitous in all adventure games. For example I can use the ‘eye’ verb to examine a poster on the wall. This right click menu also contains an inventory, which can then interact with using the verb menu, this is fine in most regards but it does get a bit tiresome to right click in order to interact. In my opinion it would have been better to place the verb/inventory menu on the main screen.
The other interesting thing about Gemini Rue is the introduction of a ranged combat element. We are taken through the basic mechanics via a tutorial. The combat basically revolves around using cover, the a or d key will take you out of cover and the space bar is used to fire the gun. This will sometimes miss. If you choose to press the alt key you can take a concentrated shot which will start a progress bar, when this progress bar hits green and you then shoot you can kill the enemy with one shot. You can also get back into cover at any point to avoid getting shot and losing some health. While this combat system is fairly easy to get to grips with, combat eventually revolves around timing and using the concentrated shot. Also, if you lose all your health you will die. While I personally have no issues with death in adventure game, it could possibly get in the way of enjoyment of the game if you have to retry the same combat section because you get killed.
The audio in the game is used to good effect from the constant rain, the ambient sounds of the city and the electronic sounds of the holding centre. The only major issue with the audio is the voice overs. Some of the voice acting leaves a bit to be desired but can be forgiven because of the indie nature of the product. Also you can easily turn this voice over off if it hampers the enjoyment of the game and in fact turning the voice-over off helps to enhance the retro feel of the game.
Gemini Rue is an intriguing beast, it harks back to some of the classic Sierra adventures but feels more like evolution of the adventure genre rather than revolution. The story fairly ticks along and will engage most players; certainly the more interesting aspects of the story are teased out by playing the character with a lack of memory.
If you are in anyway interested in adventure games you should get this game.
8 points out of 10 clicks