Adventure games, 80’s pixel-barfing graphics and a story meant to draw out our inner kid from hiding by baiting it with nostalgia shaped candy. Unusual Findings is not the game, or even entertainment product, to build on a formula that is already proven to make its way into our wallets. It might not be a Halloween story, but can it be the unexpected gift worthy of finding its way under the Christmas tree?

Beyond the pun pointing at the fact that the game takes place during a fictional Xmas, Unusual Findings has something familiar in its DNA making us reminisce about Back to the Future or fire up Netflix and rewatch the first season of Stranger Things. But can Unusual Findings offer more than just that and stand on its own in a genre still ruled by the immortal Lucas Arts games?

The developers from Epic Llama Games definitely tried their best, by putting together a story that takes us back to the 80’s. We have all the cliches that should build up a nice story: a small American town, a handful of teenagers, an old CRT television and the heroic Friday night quest to unscramble the adult channel. And, of course, the plot twist that replaces the alluring female bodies with images of an UFO that crash-landed on the planet. It is an E rated game, so no naked buttocks for the audience.

Unusual Findings

As usual in these kinds of situations the law enforcement agencies are completely useless, the fate of the city and the entire world even resting on the shoulder of our acne riddled teenagers. But this well-known build-up represents just the beginning of the game, things get more interesting along the way. The alien robot’s role becomes ambiguous and while you investigate the mandatory secret underground base, you will start questioning who you can actually trust.

So, we have a story that evolves almost as spectacularly as Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies, and the best part of that is the dynamic of the three friends. While you will control only Vinny, Nick and Tony will follow him like gum stick to his shoes. Each reacts differently to the things happening, and each has different and completely useless abilities. But sticking them together and adding humor on top gives a funny complexion to the game.

Just like the narrative, the gameplay is a tribute to the classics as well. You are forced to hunt down pixels in an effort to discover the objects you can interact with by analyzing them, using them or talking to them. If you ever played any classic adventure game, you already know the recipe: go to every possible location, discover all the objects and clues, interact with all the characters and try to figure out the puzzles standing in your way.

The experience is try-hard: you don’t have any hints or reminders. You have to figure out the way the designers built the puzzles up to the point that they will seem almost straightforward. Up until you run into a new one, that makes you scream in frustration challenging the sanity and the logic of the entire development team. In other words, if you love Money Island, Broken Sword or the like, you’ll have a magnificent time with Unusual Findings.

The pixel art graphics take us back to exactly these games, and awakens the nostalgia for sipping soda, chewing on gummy bears and taking turns in the attempt to rescue the princess from the clutches of the evil boss. The art direction matches the atmosphere perfectly. The lack of voice acting does not subtract from the retro feel, but the soundtrack feels flat and uninspired.       

The problem, at least with the console version, is the control when it comes to the edge of the screen. Because the cursor moves, but the camera only moves when the character does, often you will get entangled by the interactions inconveniently placed at the edge of the screen. It is more of a nuisance than a real problem, but it gets annoying when you try to advance to the left or the right.

Unusual Findings

The Good

  • A love letter to the classics of the genre
  • Well-paced humor
  • Great artistic style

The Bad

  • Some puzzles are out of this world
  • No hint and save systems
  • The dialogues tend to be sluggish

Conclusion

The four-five hours of poor nostalgia will actually be much longer, if you can resist the urge to look up the solutions in some walkthrough. But that is the beauty of Unusual Findings: it treats you like a creative (young)adult that can figure out things on their own and does not need to be guided.

It is not novel or revolutionary by any standards, but it’s a fun game built for the fans of classic adventure titles. As expected, Unusual Findings does not have any replay value, but it will not disappoint those looking for a great story, complex puzzles and a not so “in your face” humor.

Review code provided by the publisher



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here