The Secret Files: Tunguska was a decent, but not particularly original, point-and-click adventure game released last year on the PC. Because the genre isn't exactly bustling these days, it seems that "decent" was good enough to warrant a sequel; thus, Secret Files 2 was unveiled at the Leipzig Games Convention.
Secret Files 2 features the return of Nina Kalenkow and her now ex-boyfriend Max Gruber. While some of the returning characters may be the same, the game features an all-new storyline that will last somewhere around 15 hours.
The game opens with a cutscene that depicts an old man being attacked by two men wearing night-vision goggles. The person the old man was going to meet, Bishop Parrey, is aware of his friend's fate then realizes he must hide a book and parchment that apparently predict some sort of unpleasant end for all of humanity. At this point, the cutscene ends and the game becomes playable. It's up to you to hide the items and make sure they don't fall into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, as soon as the Bishop completes his task, the masked men break into the church and fling him unceremoniously through a stained-glass window to the ground several stories below.
As Parrey lies dead on the ground, the camera pulls out and the scene changes. Nina is getting ready to board a small cruise ship to sail to Portugal. But as she embarks on this three day/two night cruise, she--along with Max, who is currently in Indonesia--become involved in a mystery that will somehow bring them together once again.
There's a reason why games like Secret Files 2 are called "point-and-click" adventures. You simply point at items to look at or pick up items, interact with people, and move around. You can't die, so the challenge comes from finding items then figuring out when, where, and how to use them. That's not to say Secret Files 2 doesn't do anything differently from the first game. In one of the game's latter stages, you'll actually be in control of two characters and will need to switch between the two, helping them work together to pass obstacles. One notable addition is that you can now hit the space bar to display icons over items that can be interacted with, as well as icons showing where exits are located. This should limit the amount of time you spend stuck in a room randomly clicking objects or looking for a door that is just out of view. Another tool that should lessen a player's frustration is the diary, which not only tracks what you've done but can also dish out hints when you're really stuck.
Secret Files 2 is a nice-looking game, regardless of genre. The backgrounds are extremely detailed, and the game uses an attractive art style. Though the action in each room is viewed from a stationary point, the camera will now zoom in and turn slightly, which makes the game feel more dynamic. It might not seem like much, but it does wonders with regards to making the game look more interesting. Though they do move a bit stiffly around the environments, the character models look nice, particularly their faces. Fans of the original game will be pleased to learn that its sequel will run at a higher resolution and will even support widescreen displays.
Ultimately, it will be the strength of Secret File 2's story that determines its success. The build we were shown was in German, so it's impossible to say how the voice acting (an issue in the first game) will turn out in the US, but so far, the game looks to be coming together nicely. We'll have more on Secret Files 2 as its second quarter 2008 release date approaches.