Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
If you’re like me, you’ll be hit with a lot of nostalgic memories when I mention old adventure games like “Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis,” “The Secret of Monkey Island” or “Beneath a Steel Sky.”
These point-and-click adventures were, in some ways, the pinnacle of storytelling and puzzle-solving for their day. As time went on, however, the genre started to die out. It’s seen a bit of resurgence lately, with the success of episodic games from Telltale, but those games feel pretty modern. If you really want a throwback to the good old days of adventures, you want “Gemini Rue.”
“Gemini Rue” is a sci-fi, indie PC game from a small development team. The second you look at it, you’ll likely be reminded of those old adventure games, from the graphics to the gameplay mechanics to the dialogue.
But nostalgia shouldn’t be enough to sell you a game. There are plenty of crappy “retro” games out there if you don’t care about quality. So is “Gemini Rue” a quality experience?
Adventure games live or die by two things, primarily: Story/dialogue and puzzles. If the story sucks, you have no reason to push it forward. If the puzzles are too easy or two hard, gamers will quickly get either bored or frustrated.
The story of “Gemini Rue” is pretty good and well-written. It’s a nice mix of science fiction and noir, spending most of its time giving you control of two characters: Azriel, a gruff cop searching a run-down city for answers to a personal mystery, and Delta-Six, a prisoner of a secretive facility where his memory has been wiped at least once before.
The puzzles are also pretty good and well-balanced. Hardcore fans of old adventure games may find them too easy and limited (you won’t be making bizarre and unnatural item combinations like rubber chickens and pulleys, for example), but overall it’s probably a good thing that players should be able to figure out puzzles by simple logic alone.
Everything about the experience screams “old-school,” with the possible exception of voice acting. The very inclusion of voice surprised me a little (it wasn’t standard in most old adventure games), but I was more surprised to find that the acting wasn’t half bad.
So there’s a lot going for “Gemini Rue,” but it’s not perfect.
For one thing, there are a very limited number of environments. Granted, it was produced by a small development team and is available at a budget price of $15, but you spend most of your time in the same (or same looking) locations. It kills a little bit of the sense of discovery you might want from an adventure.
The story is also very linear, where you are pointed pretty clearly in one direction from beginning to end. The game tries to remedy this a little at one point by letting you switch back and forth between the two characters at will, but I’m not sure it was enough.
Thankfully, these issues don’t wholly detract from the fun journey the game provides. As far as adventures from small developers go, “Gemini Rue” gets most things right, and should be applauded for that accomplishment.
“Gemini Rue” can be purchased on the Wadjet Eye Games website.