La Tramontane - Ferienhaus direkt am Meer
Title: The Wardrobe
Release Date: 15 Feb, 2017
Generally, I try out point-and-click games now and then, hoping to find an interesting experience. And sometimes I do. But the biggest issue I have with these games is that many of them tend to just throw away logic when it comes to progression and solving the puzzles. Some players seem to defend or ignore flaws like having to try combining 1 item with 20 other possible ones with no actual connection or hints, or randomly having to give all of the items possible to some unrelated NPC in the hopes that they do something.
But I am not one of those people. If a point-and-click game ends up requiring a lot of that, then I think it's just poor design. Because honestly, I think it's actually easier<\/i> for a developer to make puzzles that give simple hints and have things connect, since the illogical puzzles that exist usually are extremely convoluted and long.
The Wardrobe<\/i> aligns itself with the point-and-click games that lack logic, and in this case, story as well. The game is set up with a horrible intro scene which seems like it was intentionally made to seem "bad" but wasn't actually funny at all. Then the rest of the game is trying to get the main character's wardrobe to a new house, and another extremely bad "story" wrap-up during the final scene before the credits roll.
During the majority of the game, there's really not much in terms of story or development, and the backstory is already bad enough. Pretty much all of the time spent on environment and interaction seems to be the developers relying entirely upon generically bad tropes of people (dumb marijuana smoker with a rastacap, dumb college jock who can't speak properly, etc.) and also dropping a ridiculous<\/b> amount of references to TV shows, movies, and other video games.
But the problem is that the above is simply just that: dumb tropes and callback references. The references are so in your face that it's not even like they did it intelligently. You'll come into rooms where they just have 3 or more characters from other media sitting there, some of which you can put your mouse over and the game literally just says the actual character's name. There's even a point where you come across a box of Eggo waffles on the ground, and if you inspect it, the main character says a few statements out loud directly saying "Duffer brothers" and "Stranger Things" in the messages. Referencing is only interesting if you don't go overboard and also try to keep it sly and surprise the audience. Just directly pointing everything out isn't exciting or interesting.
Oh, and back to the puzzles... As I said earlier, this game falls into the illogical pile of point-and-click games. Maybe 20% of the time you'll get an idea of what you're supposed to do, but the other 80% of the time, the items and\/or characters involved are completely random or unrelated. Thus, you either perform brute force checks on everything across multiple locations, or you simply open up a walkthrough. What's even worse is that there's a bunch of places where you know exactly what kind of item you need - it's just that the puzzles to obtain that item are completely senseless.
To give an example early on, within the first 30 minutes: there's a point where you find an alligator who has a toothache. You learn that something is stuck in the teeth and you can help get it out with something heavy and powerful. But you aren't given any other details. When walking around the rooms of a house, you do find an electric screwdriver but it's missing a screw. In the same room, there's a knob on a bed that you need to "unscrew" but can't do it yourself. So far, so good, right? Up to this point, it's not really that bad. But here's where it becomes random. To get the knob off of the bed, you need to grab a cup from the kitchen, fill it with sewer water from the actual sewer, obtain medical pills from the bathroom and add them to the sewer water, give the drink to a pile of dust<\/i>, and then challenge the pile of dust to unscrew the knob. What?!<\/b><\/i> And even then, you get the knob with the screw still stuck in it, so you have to find a blowtorch to destroy the wood.
There are "puzzles" worse than the above one, but that was an early example that made me resort to a guide because I'd rather do that instead of test out everything without reason. I ended up resorting to the guide probably 50% of the time I played.
I just think that games of this type should really add a hint and\/or mini-journal system if they're going to make it somewhat convoluted. It would be nice to add some vague hint to a journal page when you hear relevant details from a character or you find weird items. It doesn't mean you ever have to say "Oh, this item you just picked up works with this one here." But just give descriptive clues. I don't really care if there were earlier point-and-click games that were convoluted and still acclaimed, because that's not going to change my view on it at all.
Anyway, so the important details of puzzle design, story (or at least setup), and humor were generally pretty weak for The Wardrobe<\/i>. The voice acting ended up being good, along with the graphics, but those aren't really going to cover the bigger flaws.
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