Saturday, April 20, 2013

Gemini Rue [Wadjet Eye Games + Joshua Nuernberger] - $3.99

I will admit that I’m not a huge fan of Point & Click games, but there are a few that have grabbed my attention over the years. Of course, the classics; Myst, Riven and The Last Express, but also a few that I had the chance to play primarily because of their appearance in the AppStore; Machinarium, Another World, Yesterday and The Walking Dead. Well, now I can add one more title to this very short list of games that have completely blown me away. Gemini Rue. Originally released for the PC back in 2011, Gemini Rue has made its way to the touch screen and, even on the smaller iPhone/iPod screens, it’s a perfect fit. 

Developed by Joshua Nuernberger and published by Wadjet Eye Games, the same developer/publisher team that released the PC version, the iOS port is basically an exact copy of the original. Aside from the controls, iOS gamers now have the option of playing one of the best Point & Click titles to date. Gemini Rue has won multiple awards, being named Gamespy’s Adventure Game of the Year, Aggies awards for best story, best setting and best independent adventure, as well as winning the AGS Awards for best gameplay, best original story, best player character, best background art, best character art and best sound effects, not to mention being named PC Gamer’s Adventure Game of the Year, all in 2011. If that isn’t enough to push you into dropping the measly $4 for the game, I don’t know what is. Even gamers who are not fans of Point and Click Adventure games have a very high chance of falling completely in love with Gemini Rue. 

It is surprising that no awards were given for the games soundtrack, as it’s one of the best compositions I’ve heard in a video game. Nathan Allen Pinard composed the BGM, and it’s fantastic, adding immensely to the dark and dreary atmosphere found within the game. The dark buildings and rainy cityscapes definitely add to the tense feeling and cyberpunk themes found throughout the story. Even the brightly lit hospital like areas of the game have a creepy feeling of solitude, even when other characters are present. This also fits in with the plot, as you never know who you can trust or what the NPC’s are going to do or how they’ll react to you, helping to make it feel like you are completely alone in the world of Gemini Rue. 

The game takes place in the 23rd century in the Gemini System. A system that’s recently been torn apart by war, and is under the control of the Yakuza, referred to as the Boryokudan (meaning ‘Violence Group’, which is what the media and police call the Yakuza). Throughout the game, you’ll control multiple characters; Azriel, an ex-assassin turned lawman who is searching for his brother, Daniel, Azriel’s brother who is also referred to as Alpha-Six and Matthius, one of Azriel’s old friends from when he was an assassin. I won’t get too much into the story, as the plot and how it unfolds is a major part of the game, but essentially, you’ll be searching for Daniel, who’s been kidnapped by the Boryokudan, with Matthius’s help. 

One of many notable aspects of the game is how the tutorial is presented. Instead of just having a help section, or giving you a brief ‘how-to’ at the beginning of the game, you’ll learn how to do things as you need to. But these actions are also flawlessly woven into the story, adding another layer of evolution into the game. Another aspect that’s not too common in Point & Click games; gunplay. You’re able to duck behind cover deciding when you want to point your head out so that you can fire. There’s also a breath-holding mechanic that gives you the ability to one-hit-kill enemies with a headshot if pulled off right by shooting when your breath gauge is in the green. 

Graphically, Gemini Rue does look a little blurred, but the retro feeling of the graphics mixed with modern graphical techniques is pulled off perfectly giving the game a ton of atmospheric qualities. As we already said, the soundtrack also helps complete the atmosphere giving the game a feeling within the setting that would be a perfect fit for any one of William Gibson or Neal Stephenson’s novels. The animations however, are a tad bit clunky. I can’t help but feel like if the animations were a little smoother, it would have added yet another level of immersion to the gameplay. That isn’t to say that the animations are not noteworthy, because they are still well done, it just so happens that they stand out because the rest of the game is so unbelievably polished. 

Aside from the animations, the only other negative thing that I can say about the game is the lack of GameCenter. Achievements would have been a great addition for this mobile port. However, like the animations, this isn’t something that takes away from the game at all. I never found myself saying ‘I’d be more inclined to play this game if it had GameCenter integration’, it just would have been an added little plus if it was included. Being Universal and priced at $3.99, Gemini Rue is a steal (especially taking into account that the PC version is $9.99), and we really can not recommend it enough. I know we say that a lot here, especially lately, but Gemini Rue is one of very few games that has secured it’s spot on our Game Of The Year list. It’s a title that every iOS gamer should experience. We also hope to see more of Wadjet Eye Game’s published titles hit the AppStore in the future, especially if they’re anywhere near the same level as Gemini Rue. 


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