Detectives always seem to have the hardest jobs. No 9-5 scheduled days for them, no guarantees of safety within their line of work and there may even be a chance of family members getting wrapped up in their work against their will. Such is the tale of Adam Wolfe, an episodic point and click adventure from the people at Mad Head Games. How does this supernatural incursion into the world of noir detectives fare in the spectrum of gaming? Let’s see for ourselves!
The first thing to note about this game is of course the story. Being a narrative driven point and click getting a good tale to keep your players enthralled is most important. The story here follows the tales of supernatural detective Adam Wolfe who researches unknown events throughout the city of San Francisco. Along the way it is told that Adam’s sister has mysteriously disappeared and it is up to you to not only help Adam with the cases he is provided but also help discover the reasoning behind his sister’s disappearance. Each episode of this series has a self contained story adhering to an investigation that Adam is taking part in but the wider story itself is also sprinkled within each episode, providing a cohesive narrative and a driving force for you to complete every single part of this saga. I really enjoyed the story, it felt like the spiritual Doctor Who video game that we all desired. Each story is compelling and the overall plot is complicated and unique involving mysterious organisations and even time manipulation. This series was able to keep me going just to find out what the next plot point was or to discover the meaning behind a twist, and few gaming narratives are capable of doing something like that.
The presentation is absolutely gorgeous at times. Everything in the game is seemingly hand drawn and it’s clear that whoever was in charge of art direction was very talented in what they were trying to show. Environments are detailed and always have things to look over, puzzles are well displayed and easy to understand and the general theme of the game simply oozes noir detective thriller with a dash of magic thrown in. The only downside to the visuals are some of the characters who when they are not looking generic they give off a very uncanny valley vibe, especially during some of the slower, narrative driven cutscenes in the game. The music fits the scenarios they are used in however they don’t truly stand out to me. It’s not terrible music per say but nothing ever really caught me out and made me want to download the soundtrack. The voice acting however is superb. While some of the dialogue can be a bit cheesy or awkwardly written the delivery on the part of each actor is remarkable, holding it up as one of the main highlights of this game. It really helps you get attached to these characters and each new villain or side character that is introduced looks and sounds interesting.
The gameplay is where most people may see fault with the genre as a whole. Point and Click adventures tend to use the same mechanics and some are almost completely similar however Adam Wolfe introduces various mechanics that help it to stand out from the crowd. First is the inclusion of various difficulty modes that help you to determine how hard of an experience you want this to be. Higher difficulty modes will give you less hints, make timed decisions quicker and even stops highlighting important objects with your mouse cursor. For veterans of the genre this helps to make it a much more enjoyable experience even if it can become frustrating at the lack of feedback on these higher difficulties. The game also includes action segments that focus on introducing first person shooter mechanics. It reminds me a lot of those old browser based flash games that tried to be shooters in that while some of them can feel a bit stiff and limited the mechanics are responsive and help to break up the monotony of reading through text boxes. The puzzles too are varied and complex, including a focus mode that helps you to look at and analyse smaller details within a scene and even a time travelling mechanic that allows you to look into the past and discover how events took place. These mechanics when blended together make for a much more active experience for a Point and Click Adventure and so may be appealing to those who normally don’t play these type of games.
Unfortunately at some points this game does fall into the genre trend of ‘Developer Logic’, meaning that some of the answers to puzzles can be rather vague and cryptic and can only be solved by rapid mashing of the mouse button on everything that moves. One example that particularly sticks out to me is when I had to get into a locked security room. The door was locked with a keycard slot so therefore I instantly thought I needed a keycard. I looked around the building for around 10 minutes until eventually I stumbled across the answer. Turns out I needed to go outside the building, pick up a glass of water from in front of a security guard (who didn’t seem to mind for some reason), take the water to the door and pour it into the keycard slot, frying the electrics and opening the door. I would have never guessed that on my own and luckily I was able to find the solution eventually. Still the in built hints system are designed for these type of events so it isn’t too much a problem.
Overall I enjoyed my time with Adam Wolfe. The story intrigued me and kept me going through the episodes and the varied gameplay ensured that I didn’t get bored of just scrolling through text. If you are a fan of the Point and Click genre or you are a fan of detective/paranormal stories then I highly recommend this game to you. Just remember that fire elementals don’t exist… I think…