When you’re driving the bus of British pop culture, you have to be careful. There’s a massive blind spot on the left-hand side, and it’s almost completely filled with Perry Rhodan. Mr. Rhodan is the hero of a slightly camp, heroic sci-fi opera that has been around for nearly half a century. In Germany. The videogame part of this long-running franchise is a traditional point-and-click affair, with an inventory that fills with topics of conversation as well as items. Tapping S scans the room for anything clickable (a device that was in games like Secret Files: Tunguska and Frogwares’ new Sherlock Holmes games, like Nemesis), and it goes some way to reducing the potential pixel-scouring frustration of the genre.
This is useful, as the puzzles themselves have plenty of potential for frustration. Some of the puzzles are perfectly satisfying – at one stage, we had to get a pen and paper, which made us feel genuinely clever – in a genuinely stupid way. However, sometimes you’ll know the answer, but struggle to tell the game your solution. Other times, it feels like a dozen intuitive solutions will fail to be eventually solved with a punch to the temple from leftfield. Getting the password to a computer, for example, is a prime study in how to torture players. An odd design decision was to use the inventory area for captions, rendering the area unclickable during dialogue.
To make matters annoying, talking can’t be skipped, no matter how many times you’ve heard it before. To upgrade annoying to infuriating, the actors’ delivery is a long, winding distance from snappy. Conversations are like going on a romantic meal with someone who steals your cutlery while they’re talking, and when it comes to finally having sex you discover she’s a cardboard cut-out with a tape-player strapped to the back. Rhodan is a good point-and-clicker for a patient player – there’s a fair bit of reading that fills out the world, it’s a good-looking bird, and when you ignore the red herrings of common sense and think in the logic peculiar to Rhodan, it does fit together well. Overall this is an above-average sci-fi adventure, but if you’re fond of rollercoasters join a different queue.
Jul 7, 2008