I've been ranting about the need for a resurgence in point and click adventures for a good while now. The genre's been forsaken as unfashionable for far too long, and in this Wii and DS-dominated climate, there's absolutely no excuse for not bringing it back for a new audience. Thankfully, games like Hotel Dusk, Another Code and Zak & Wiki are threatening to start a new wave, and the logic of that phenomenon has not been lost on Daedalic Entertainment, as they're bringing their new point and click A New Beginning to both of Nintendo's consoles as well as the PC. Good work lads. Dave approves.
Having had a behind closed doors demonstration of the PC version, Dave approves of other things too. Hit the jump so he can tell you about them.
So what's it like then? Well biggest point first - this game is gorgeous. In taking a totally hand-painted approach to the graphics, Daedelic have proven my conceit that 3D is a much over-used and often completely unnecessary convention in videogames. It seems that the more we "progress", the more we lose the benefits of the older crafts, and much like a charming old village marketplace being replaced with a shiny new shopping mall, our obsession with polygons often wipes out many of the joys and means of expression available through more traditional design processes.
Take a look at that screen shot at the top. Go on, take a good look. That's exactly what A New Beginning looks like when played and as far as I'm concerned it's worth however many millions of bump-mapped polys you can throw at me. And if you think it looks great in screen shots - which you will if your eyes work - just wait until you see it moving. For all the technically brilliant games I've seen at GC so far, nothing has visually impressed me as much as the sight of A New Beginning's protagonist Fay walking up to the top of a cliff and looking out upon miles of horizon, all of which moved in correct perfective with a stunningly effective seven layers of parallax scrolling. Seeing the techniques of my beloved old 16-bit era brought so beautifully up to date with current technology warmed my heart like a larva waistcoat, and my eyeballs are hungry for more. Think cel shading looks good? Well of course it does, but why bother when we can have the real thing?
In terms of plot, the game is a science fiction adventure following Fay as she travels back from an environmentally-ravaged future in order to change the past and save the world. If you're hearing the same "Edutainment" alarm bells I did when told that though, don't worry. Daedalic emphasized the fact that A New Beginning won't be moralizing or doing any preaching, and that they just want to make a fun adventure using a real-world problem as a starting point.
The puzzles are looking pretty good right now too, the scenes I saw mixing up the traditional logic problems with some jigsaw-style drag and drop item building and even a bit of 3D spacial puzzling to keep things fresh. The game's conundrums will often be open to interpretation, with a variety of solutions available for the working out, and every usable object carrying a variety of context-sensitive options at any given time to allow individual creative thinking on the part of the player.
The only thing lacking in the demo was the overall quality of the character animation, but what I saw was a very early build and the developers were open about the fact that of lot of it is still made up of placeholders at this stage. With the game only due out next year, and the animated cut-scenes I saw shaping up very well, I'm more than willing to overlook the lack of frames until I get my hands on the finished product.