Adam Wolfe – Episode 1 (Steam) Review
Adam Wolfe Episode 1
Release Date: 10/7/16
Developer: Mad Head Games
A Review Copy Was Provided
Adam Wolfe is an interesting twist on the classic mystery game. It kind of feels like the visual-novel version of a mystery game.
As the player, you’re acting as Adam Wolfe, paranormal investigator. As someone who watches anime with paranormal investigators, I’ve become used to they themselves having some sort of non-human ability, like discolored eyes that can see the dead, or inhuman strength. Adam Wolfe is none of these. He’s just another normal human; a guy with a gun and guts. His single-minded drive to discover the truth about his missing sister pushes him to not only face but also confront the paranormal as he probes the mysteries he’s gotten caught up in. I was quite happy to discover this – that the game so readily accepted the paranormal, but didn’t insist the protagonist be paranormal as well. It makes the game that much more interesting to be taking on problems as your every-day detective.
The fact the game actively involves paranormal elements was interesting. I’ve found that with mystery games, the investigations usually lead to a “logical, scientific explanation” to explain away any strange occurrences. Adam Wolfe, on the other hand, not only embraces the idea of legitimate paranormal elements, but uses them to drive the plot forward. At the first introduction to the game’s paranormal mysteries, I confess I was kind of afraid things would take a cheesy turn. After all, if the strange occurrences aren’t given enough background or explanation, they can be hard to take seriously, which makes things feel comical instead of foreboding. Adam Wolfe didn’t fall into this rut, in my opinion. The paranormal elements were backed up by beliefs held by various world cultures about spirits and spirituality – this made the story feel more real and believable.
As for the gameplay itself, I thought it was an interesting combination of elements from point-and-click, hidden object, and puzzle-based mystery games. In some cases, the game feels like a point-and-click, where you simply have to investigate your surroundings or choose what action to take (for example, choosing to go left or straight through when your path splits). However, during those investigations you’ll often find yourself faced with a hidden object search or a puzzle. The hidden object searches are actually done with a story – as Wolfe talks, you’ll have to find the item he’s talking about, which somehow feels a lot more fun than the typical check-off-the-list-items format. The puzzles are interesting. The first few seemed easy, but some of the later ones were more challenging, and thus more fun. However, the variety was awesome. Having the same type of puzzle over and over gets monotonous so Adam Wolfe’s range of puzzles, in both skill and type, made things much more enjoyable.
I have only a few minor complaints about the game (based solely on the first chapter). Firstly, the animation of the characters talking really bothered me – it just looks strange as their eyes and nose don’t move naturally with their mouth while speaking. However, that aside, the rest of the animation is really well done for a game in its price range. Not just the animation, but the art in general, as well as the voice-acting. Another thing that bothered me was both the amount of clicking I had to do to progress through story portions – while initially the idea of clicking various elements on the screen to start the next part of the story was fun, it got to be a bit frustrating later, as I couldn’t just put the mouse off to the side and listen to the story segment. Finally, the controls seemed a bit too nitpicky at times. I can’t list specific examples, because spoilers, but in a few cases I’d be clicking on an object, just not on the right spot on an object. This got a little frustrating as it led to some false assumptions that I was targeting the wrong item, not just the wrong place on the right item.
Overall, I did enjoy the first chapter of this game as visual novel-style mystery game. I wish there was a little bit more background story/explanation given as to the events before where you begin playing. I’d also love less clicking and slightly more forgiving selections (would have saved me clicking in numerous spots on the same object to find the right spot). However, things like the art and puzzle variety distract from that. Not to mention, the game’s got a unique concept so far and I confess I’m totally curious to figure out the overarching mystery about Wolfe’s sister and the events tied into her disappearance. I’ll definitely be buying the other chapters to finish the game and solve the mystery!
+ Unique gameplay
+ Puzzle/challenge variety
+ Beautiful art
– LOTS of clicking
– Some finicky controls/targeting