The Dark Eye is a pen-and-paper RPG IP of Deutsch origins, aiming to be a slightly darker version of Dungeons & Dragons but not as bitter as Games Workshop’s Warhammer. Typically, The Dark Eye, being a home-made product, became rather popular in Germany. In fact, it is so popular, that Daedelic decided that an adventure game should be made based on the pen-and-paper table-top game, ditching all the rules and RPG gameplay but not The Dark Eye’s lore and themes.
It is not entirely certain whether Ulisses Spiele, the owner of The Dark Eye IP at the time (and still currently so), had granted Daedelic a license or not, especially considering that Chains of Satinav is not even a RPG.
Regardless, The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav offers a story with splendid artistry and narrative depth.
Furthermore, it may come as a surprise to Daedelic’s fans that it is not Herr Müller-Michaelis that is the project leader. Instead, the director of the game is Franziska Reinhard, while the writing and puzzle designs are from Ole Kamm and others. Consequently, the game has qualities that are leagues apart from the cartoonish titles that Daedelic’s co-founder tends to make, perhaps for the better.
Young man Geron is the apprentice of a bird-catcher in the medieval sovereign town of Andergast. However, far from being a mere plebiscite with an otherwise serene everyday-life, Geron is the victim of a tragedy that struck Andergast more than a decade ago.
This tragedy was caused by a blind old man with otherworldly powers. Known only as “the Seer”, the old man has been brought to justice and condemned to the stake, but before dying, he had proclaimed Geron to be a living bad omen. Furthermore, it does not help Geron that he has some magical talent, namely an ability to break fragile objects from afar with mere thoughts.
On one fateful day, long after that day of reckoning for the Seer, Geron is participating in a royally sponsored challenge amidst signs of calamity looming on the town. Little does he know that winning that challenge would not improve his lot in his life, but rather propel him into an adventure that he would never have seen coming.
REMARKS ON PREMISE:
After having played the game, one could suspect that Chains of Satinav is based on the aftermath of some table-top campaign. Poor Geron could have been responsible for tying up the loose ends that have been left behind by a motley crew of former table-top adventurers who have since been retired by their owners into less-exciting but otherwise safe lives in Andergast.
Perhaps this is Daedelic’s way of attempting to make the game feel familiar to fans of The Dark Eye table-top game, but ultimately, Chains of Satinav is a point-and-click adventure game through and through.
For the sake of players who are not familiar with the (very simple) gameplay of point-and-click adventure games, there is a tutorial that accompanies the prologue of the game. The scenario of the prologue is cleverly written to show to the player the elements of point-and-click gameplay, as well as Geron’s ability to break dainty things like jugs from afar. It is satisfactorily comprehensive, but then, this is a point-and-click adventure game.
VISUAL & AURAL AIDS:
Before starting a game session, the player is prompted to pick one of two “difficulty” settings. An experienced game consumer would be a bit surprised at this, because difficulty settings are usually associated with anything but adventure games.
In the default setting, the player is given some hints on what to do, usually through remarks by some characters (including Geron himself). More importantly, the icon for the mouse cursor is highlighted with a nimbus of light whenever the player is about to perform an action that would lead to progress. For example, combining an item with another right item would trigger this visual indicator. Another handy aid is that objects that Geron has yet to examine or interact with have their text labels tinted blue.
Playing at the other difficulty setting removes these visual aids. Of course, this supposedly more difficult setting is only effective at what it is supposed to do if the player is playing the game for the first time.
For either setting, a pleasant chime with mysterious tones play when the player has made significant progress within a scenario, such as achieving one of the objectives that Geron must achieve. A shorter, alternative chime also plays when the player has completed the necessary steps to trigger progression to the next stage in a scenario.
In either setting, the player can hold down the space-bar (by default) to have objects of interest highlighted in the current screen. This is a tradition of Daedelic Entertainment of course. However, in Chains of Satinav, this is tied into its system of achievements; specifically, not perusing the convenience of highlights gives the player a chance at getting a particular achievement. Unfortunately, this means that the interested player would have to go pixel-hunting.
Being the player character, it is perhaps fortunate that Geron is an easy character to control, more so than the protagonists in other Daedelic titles.
Firstly, Geron can actually run. He will automatically run when the player wants him to go to somewhere or something that is more than half the screen distance, which is convenient.
Like his peers in many other adventure games, Geron can stuff a ridiculous number of things into his pockets. These can include even huge things, such as antler head trophies. On the flip side, this can seem unbelievable and can even be seen to go against The Dark Eye setting.
In terms of personality, Geron did not have a nice childhood, which is to be expected of a person that has to grow up with having been proclaimed by the condemned to be “the doom of us all”. Having had few people that are kind to him aside from his mentor and guardian Gwinnling, Geron has a little angst but takes any chance to improve his standing in the eyes of the other people of Andergast.
Yet poor Geron, unfortunately, has to make things worse for himself as he tried to experiment with his powers, which remain strictly limited to just breaking fragile things, much to his frustration.
Interestingly, the player can make the decisions for other aspects of his personality through interactions with other characters. For example, players can have Geron showing proper deference to people of the upper class when talking to certain nobles, or just have him act as a defiant plebiscite.
Sadly though, any expectation that the decisions would change things down the plotline would be dashed. They are only there for the sake of the system of achievements.
Regardless of his angst, poor childhood and the player’s decisions, Geron is still a pleasantly mild person that is not easily given to outbursts. His refusal to give up or whine a lot about his troubles is also admirable, especially when he is compared with the protagonists of other Daedelic titles, which tend to sound insufferable when they moan about their misfortune.
The other protagonist of the game is Nuri, whose unwieldy full name would be withheld here for practical reasons. Nuri’s character designs may seem stereotypical, i.e. that of a naïve nubile girl, but there are convincing reasons for such decisions on Daedelic’s part, which will not be mentioned here for fear of spoilers.
Nuri acts as Geron’s conscience throughout much of the game. She also provides some comic relief for when Geron has to interact with creatures that come from fairy-tales. Her innocently clueless awkwardness when encountering elements of human civilization is also a source of entertainment.
Most importantly, her eventual (and easily foreseeable) realization of how cruel the human world can be is an important element of the story, though to elaborate this would be to include a spoiler.
In terms of gameplay, Nuri offers a magical spell that is the exact opposite of Geron’s ability. Generally, for much of the game, the player must have Nuri close to Geron for this spell to be available for use. Indeed, many of the puzzles make clever use of their complementary powers.
OTHER CHARACTERS & THE WRITING:
As suggested earlier, the other characters may seem familiar to people that have experience in The Dark Eye IP. As an example, there are superstitious common folk that are distrustful of strangers and who are easy to provoke into forming mobs. Then, there are rulers who try to keep the peace between two warring nations that have long forgotten their reasons for fighting. There are other archetypes of characters with agendas that would not surprise people that are used to dark fantasy tales.
However, being a fan of adventure games, Daedelic Entertainment has not forgotten to include more humorous elements in the writing of Chains of Satinav.
These include references to other adventure games, such as Monkey Island, as well as to its own games (for example, there is a reference to pantaloons, which were useful objects in The Whispered World, an earlier Daedelic title). Nuri also makes a remark that would amuse players who are aware of the tropes of looping dialogues in games.
Most of the puzzles in Chains of Satinav have logical progression and convincing reasoning in their designs - when the lore of The Dark Eye does not inject fantastical notions into them of course. When it does, there is usually someone or something that will inform the player of what needs to be done when magic is a factor.
Some of the best puzzle designs in the game have the player making use of Geron’s and Nuri’s respective abilities, breaking and repairing items in different locations.
A few puzzles actually have more than one solution, perhaps in a pleasing break from the usual linearity of puzzle solutions within the adventure game genre. Finding alternative solutions happen to account for the system of achievements within the game (which is something that is rare in Daedelic’s games). Otherwise, they do not appear to alter the main plotline, though the more jaded veterans of adventure games may appreciate that Chains of Satinav does something different for once.
There are also puzzles that are notable for including illusory tricks, which actually translate in-game into tangible consequences. Figuring these out can take a while, but it may seem rewarding to those who have the knack to notice and observe such tricks.
To help the player keep track of what to do next, the player can bring up Geron’s journal, or more precisely, his memories of the adventure. This is the main way that players use to remind themselves of what needs doing next.
Not all of the puzzles are designed in a way that would please all players though. There are a few puzzles that require the player to backtrack to see what has been updated in earlier locales. This can seem tedious.
Moreover, the player may discover that certain actions can only be performed at specific spots. For example, there is one scenario where there are a couple of locales that overlook the same object. The puzzle that is associated with the object can be solved by performing a specific action on the object. Theoretically, it could be performed in either locale, but this action can only be enacted in strictly one of the two with no reasoning behind this other than scripting limitations.
Chains of Satinav has problems that concern the less-than-stellar translation efforts for the game, which was originally made in Deutsch.
In particular, there is one puzzle where Geron makes a remark about the reaction of a certain living thing against fire. His voice-over mentions that the thing is not afraid of fire, when it actually is.
The phrase “mischief” is often used interchangeably with “misfortune” and “evil”, even though the latter may seem more appropriate for a game with Chains of Satinav’s themes.
Occasionally, the voice-overs and subtitles mismatch. This is usually not an issue when it happens, but there is one particular moment halfway into the game where it causes problems in the puzzle-solving gameplay.
In this scenario, one of the lines in the English voice-overs and subtitles is missing, and in its place is the Deutsch version. This can be irksome to English-centric players, considering that this line is actually important for one of the puzzles. Fortunately, the player does have the convenience of certain visual indicators for this puzzle, but there is no fix for the issue of the spoken line and its subtitle.
Firstly, it has to be said that Chains of Satinav does not have many technical issues, unlike its cousins in Daedelic’s portfolio. It appears to be far better optimized for more computers than other Daedelic titles. The usual issues that plague the other Daedelic titles, such as the mouse cursor becoming randomly unresponsive, rarely if not never occur in Chains of Satinav.
However, there are a few recurring problems, despite the developers’ splendid playtesting. One of them is that interactive hotspots can become randomly disabled when Geron enters a locale. The player must have Geron moving about a bit after this in order to have the icons restored.
Concept artwork for Geron suggests that the game was originally intended to have cartoonish visuals, not unlike many of Müller-Michaelis’ works. However, the finalized visual designs of Chains of Satinav are far from cartoonish. Rather, they can seem very stylish and stunningly beautiful to most players. Players may even forget that the game is designed with Visionaire, the same software that was used to make many other Daedelic titles.
Tobias Trebeljahr is mainly responsible for the background artwork of Chains of Satinav. Most of the locales in the game are splendidly detailed and laden with water-colour brush-strokes. That they were done with plenty of heart and soul is a statement that would be difficult to refute.
The character designs are provided by teams led by Simone Kesterton and Stefanie Kick. Their artstyle is certainly different from that of the artists who worked on Müller-Michaelis’s games.
Perhaps to this reviewer, each of the characters that are seen in Chains of Satinav has one-of-a-kind hairdos, ranging from the subtly unkempt to the fabulous. The two main characters are particular examples; Geron has short but thick hair that he seemingly tries to keep tidy as possible without access to better medieval hair-care, whereas Nuri has unruly hair that are adorned with many decorations that give her a wild look that is yet not too harsh on the eyes.
With that said, every person in the game has apparently unique faces too, which make them more believable (and despite the settings of the game). Again, Geron and Nuri are particularly noteworthy.
Moreover, the sprites for the characters have visual qualities that make them fit near-seamlessly with their surroundings. This differs with many previous Daedelic titles, which often have stark and sometimes even awkward visual contrast between characters and their surroundings.
However, Chains of Satinav does have limitations in its visual designs. These can be seen in the animations of characters and other objects in motion.
Although the animations for Geron’s and Nuri’s bodily motions are smoothly animated and transitioned, the other animations in the game are stilted and staggered. The splendid artwork also makes the stilted animations stand out even more.
The most apparent of these are the animations of characters’ lips. Although these do prevent any attempt at assessing lip-synching efforts, the lip animations also happen to be all over the place.
Though rarely, the lips of the wrong character move when another character is delivering lines. One of the most notable examples happens to occur in a dialogue between Nuri and Geron when they are looking for a certain person. This can result in some unintended hilarity.
Another notable design of Geron as a character is that his monologue is mostly done in his mind, not through his lips. This is in contrast with the protagonists of other Daedelic titles, who are often practically talking to themselves out loud. However, this design policy does not seem to be consistently enforced; occasionally, he makes a monologue without moving his lips, but a nearby character actually hears his words and makes remarks.
Most of the animations are done in-game, but sometimes it resorts to what appear to be pre-rendered cutscenes. There is no discernible reason for this, though perhaps it may have to do with Visionaire’s limitations.
The music is the first of the game’s sound designs to be heard. The music has been contracted out to “Knights of Soundtrack”, a none-too-subtly-named audio production company that is currently working closely with Daedelic on its more serious titles.
Dominic Morgenroth and Daniel Pharos are the composers of the music. As befitting the mature and slightly sad themes of the story, they have composed music that is melancholic and haunting, and perhaps a bit depressing too.
The Knights are also responsible for the sound effects that are heard in the game. They perhaps falter a bit in this regard.
Although most of the non-musical sound effects that are heard in the game are appropriate for their associated occurrences, the Knights do resort to clichéd albeit amusing aural tropes for certain sound effects. Chief of these is the “Wilhelm Scream”, which is used no less than twice in the game. Perhaps this was intended with humour, but it may seem ill-fitting with the game’s themes to some players.
The voice-overs are perhaps the best of the game’s sound designs. As of this time of writing, there are only Deutsch and English voice-overs. Both are delivered splendidly.
Geron may have some angst, but fortunately his voice-actors do not portray this too often. Geron’s English voice-actor in particular has a dreamy baritone that seems especially fitting with the young man. Both of Nuri’s voice-actresses portray her innocent naïveté very well, and after a certain pivotal point in the story, the heart-wrenching change in her character too.
Other characters have far shorter screen-times, but there are a couple that are notable. A certain character that appears early on appears again later as a much-changed person. His voice-actor happens to deliver this drastic change very well.
If there is any character that is not voiced pleasantly, it is one of the animals that can talk like humans do. To elaborate more on this character would be a spoiler, but it should suffice to say here that most players would find its cawing to be rather grating and forced.
Chains of Satinav has a beautifully bittersweet story to offer, in addition to puzzles that are mostly believable and not too obfuscated to figure out, despite its fantasical settings.
Perhaps its association with The Dark Eye was not needed at all for Chains of Satinav to be as brilliant as it is. Daedelic Entertainment may have intended to use this association to market the game with, but it could have just been confident that the game could have done as well without it.
That Daedelic Entertainment is slanted towards adventure games is perhaps known to those who still keep an eye on this once-vibrant genre. However, instead of watching the genre fade into oblivion, Daedelic seeks to revive it.
It might have a rough start in its endeavour though. In the past, it merely published games by others and where it did produce in-house products, they were ridden with issues such as poor translation from their original German versions.
However, Daedelic Entertainment has since learned from the feedback to its past games. The result of these lessons was Deponia, the first of a series that would place Daedelic among the likes of TellTale and other game-makers that still see worth in the adventure game genre and more importantly, making considerable revenue from them.
Continuing a practice that it has learned from past criticisms that its games are not sufficiently friendly to newcomers to the genre, Deponia starts itself off with a witty tutorial that happens outside of the actual story and breaks plenty of fourth walls.
Other than the silliness of the set-up of the tutorial and the banter between the two characters that are presenting the tutorial, the lines with the actual instructions are delivered with sufficient clarity and seriousness.
The lessons that are imparted would be standard-fare to long-time veterans of adventure games, but with the addition of the tutorial, the game would seem a lot more accessible to players who have yet to know the genre at all.
After the tutorial, Deponia reintroduces itself with a short song, sung by a person that people who liked Harvey’s New Eyes may well recognize. (Each chapter would then end and the next one start with a short song too, amusingly.)
Rufus lives in Kuvaq, a town in a seemingly vast trash heap as far as the eye can see on the planet known as Deponia. Kuvaq is populated by people who make the most of their lives by salvaging scrap and other stuff from the garbage that the city of Elysium above Kuvaq drops onto the surface of Deponia.
Tired of having such a life on the surface, Rufus yearns to leave and go to Elysium, his drive being the delusion that he deserves a life as one of the privileged blue-bloods that reside in the city.
Unfortunately, Rufus’ callous and egotistical demeanour earns him no friends at all. Moreover, it is a self-defeating behaviour that sees him unwittingly scuttle escape plan after escape plan, among other messes.
One day though, yet another ruined plan would have him looking for means other than to physically bring himself to Elysium. However, this would get him into trouble that even he is not used to.
By default, Deponia utilizes a mouse-centric system that conveniently uses both mouse buttons for immediate manipulation and examination of objects, instead of the cumbersome palette of icons that was used in earlier Daedelic games such as The Whispered World. The mouse wheel is also used for bringing up the inventory screen, which can require some getting used to, though once the player has learned this, he/she can play the game almost entirely with the mouse.
The inventory display can also be conveniently put away by simply moving the cursor into space that it does not obscure.
Despite the pervasiveness of mouse controls, the keyboard is still useful for other purposes.
Pressing the spacebar brings up handy highlights of objects, continuing a wise trend in Daedelic’s games. However, the highlight icons consist of screws with coronas of bright lights, which can obscure what they are supposed to highlight.
There are also hotkeys for bringing up the saving and loading screen, though perhaps Daedelic may not be aware of the usual (albeit not unanimously agreed-upon) meaning for the terms “quick-save” and “quick-load”.
Double-clicking on doorways, corners and such brings the player instantly to another locale, without having to watch Rufus saunter over to the other place. This is a long-time tradition of Daedelic’s games. However, by Deponia’s time, the lack of any means to have the player character run or move any faster may be all too apparent already.
Nevertheless, the consequences of the lack of running are not too severely felt, because the locales are not too expansively big.
Being the player character, the appeal of Rufus as a character is critical to the reception of the game. At first glance, Rufus’s appearance suggests that he is of the archetype of adventure game protagonists that go about seeking adventure and causing trouble. Indeed, he is one – in a sense.
Unfortunately, almost from the get-go, Rufus reveals that he has a personality that others would find unpleasant. He is self-conceited and quite pompous – but of course, players that are more experienced at story-writing tropes would know that this may well be a set-up to have events turn Rufus into a better person.
There may be some amusement to be had from the deflated sarcasm that Rufus’s acquaintances have for his antics. The only exception is Toni, who is Rufus’ ex-girlfriend who sternly reminds Rufus (and the player) that he is really good for nothing, and Gizmo, a character that would reveal that Rufus has long been a menace to Kuvaq.
This goes on for much of the game, until a certain scenario far into the game slaps him with a rude awakening. Then, finally, he has some character development away from the insufferably egotistical Rufus at the beginning.
During the time in-between though, the player has to be very patient with him, especially if he/she had known protagonists with far humbler demeanours. His massive ego can be easily grating on the nerves, especially when it leads him to make terrible mistakes.
(It is worth noting here that in this aspect, Rufus is the exact opposite of Sadwick, who is the protagonist of The Whispered World, an earlier Daedelic title.)
(Also, interestingly, despite Rufus's callousness, he still closes doors behind him.)
The puzzle designs in Deponia have surprisingly convincing logic progression, considering that earlier titles by Daedelic have issues when it comes to this.
This is mainly possible due to the settings of Deponia, which mostly has Rufus dealing with machines that have mostly believable engineering. There are also people who describe to Rufus how things work, albeit in a manner that is not too overtly clear. Their deficient explanation also hints at how much of Deponia’s past history has been lost, though the game does not provide many answers to questions about this – at least not in the first Deponia title.
Most of the puzzles have Rufus damaging and sabotaging things with selfish mischief in his mind. There are a few puzzles where he actually fixes things, which may have symbolic meanings. Either way, Rufus would say out loud what needs to be done, and appropriately so because he does have some technical skill, despite his boasts.
Some puzzles and solutions may not have all corners covered though. For example, there is one scenario where the player needs to becalm another person so that Rufus can nick said person’s things, but Rufus can only nick one certain object that is needed to solve another puzzle. If the player attempts to have Rufus steal anything else, the other person’s warnings which were used before said person was becalmed would play out.
A few puzzles also resort to cheap puns to indicate to the player the solution that is needed. For example, Rufus makes a pun on the word “catastrophe” when describing a certain object to suggest that the associated solution requires certain animals.
Despite most of the puzzles being quite logical and believable, there are puzzles that can be considered rather outrageous. Granted, there is no telling whether Deponia is a world that is far removed from the real one or not, but it is hard to suspend one’s disbelief when Rufus uses a certain candy on a light source to obtain the means to solve a puzzle.
With an egotistical protagonist, Deponia’s writers (the main one being Jan Müller-Michaelis, who is the brains behind the story of many previous titles) have their work cut out for them. Fortunately, they managed to provide an entertaining story that is not too damaged by the narcissism of the main character.
For one, other characters’ sarcasm towards Rufus’s self-conceited personality has already been mentioned. This helps balance against Rufus’s possibly insufferable monologues, at least early on in the story.
The writing also has many references to earlier adventure games by Daedelic. For example, a certain green sock appears early in the game, suggesting that it may be a reference to a certain other green sock that appeared in The Whispered World. There are also subtle references to other adventure games, including well-known ones like the Monkey Island titles.
Most of the lines are tightly written enough to prevent the player from knowing about solutions to puzzles in advance, but there are still holes that can be discovered by having Rufus examine things; an example about word-puns has already been mentioned earlier.
VOICE-OVERS & SUBTITLES:
The game comes packed with voice-overs and text in English, Deutsch, Português and Español. It so happens that the latest build of Deponia has a handy button in the user interface that allows the player to switch language packs easily. On the other hand, the multiple language packs do increase the installation size of the game.
If one is willing to replay the game several times with a different language pack each time, he/she would know that the lines are delivered with satisfactory enthusiasm. However, there are a few blemishes.
Significant pauses are used as a tool of humor in the monologues and dialogues. Although these seem suitable with the comparatively slower German and English dubs, they make the voice-overs in other languages seem awkward.
The subtitles sometimes do not match what the characters are saying. Occasionally, the game may even call up the wrong text. These may be random glitches, of course, but it should be worth noting here that this problem occurred in earlier Daedelic titles.
This brings the review to more acute problems about Deponia.
Unfortunately, even though Deponia was the most refined product by Daedelic Entertainment by its time, it can still have technical issues. This is despite the game having more than a dozen playtesters for quality control.
These might stem from its use of Visionaire and Microsoft’s .NET Framework 4. Although some machines are able to run the game without a fuss, yet some others do not take kindly to the game’s need to install .NET Framework 4 redistributables on them.
This is not proven to be the root cause, of course. Yet there are issues that Deponia shares with its older compatriots in Daedelic’s roster, which also use Visionaire and .NET Framework 4.
Although rarely, transition icons can fail to function, causing the player to be stranded to a locale. Saving and reloading does not work because the saved game is corrupted with the glitch. Occasionally, the mouse cursor may stop moving, and the only way to fix this is to disconnect and reconnect the mouse. Some voice-over lines are also randomly skipped, which can be irksome.
These problems occurred in earlier Daedelic titles, such as Harvey’s New Eyes and The Whispered World. However, perhaps to Daedelic’s credit, they appear to occur with much less frequency in Deponia.
Deponia was, perhaps by its time, Daedelic’s most visually catching in-house-developed game. Its artstyle is cartoonish and vibrant. The influence of anime/manga can be apparent to more experienced players, but it is not too significant as to detract from the otherwise convincingly original style of Deponia.
Deponia is a junk-covered world. This much is apparent when the player gets to see Kuvaq in all its ramshackle glory for the first time. The scenery also reflects on the resourcefulness of Deponia’s inhabitants, most of whom have technical knowledge to certain degrees, including even Rufus.
On the other hand, most of the scenery that the player would see is nothing but junkyards. Elysium is mentioned plenty of times in the game, but it would only be seen in the sequels.
In previous Daedelic titles, the characters have visual designs that contrast severely with the background. This is not so in Deponia. Like their environments, the characters are crafted with the same cartoonish but detailed style. Each character looks vibrant and quite unique from one another.
If there is any common visual trait to the characters, it is the lack of visible noses on the female characters. This is of course a deliberate visual design that is intended to make them look more peculiar. (It is worth noting here that such a visual design is in a significant number of anime/manga works.)
Furthermore, the animations of characters in Deponia are far better done than those for characters in earlier Daedelic titles. There are more frames of animations, as well as more illusory tricks to suggest motion on the part of the characters. Most puzzles and solutions also have their own unique animations of Rufus manipulating them.
SOUND EFFECTS & MUSIC:
As to be expected from a game that is set in a junkyard of a world, the sound effects are going to be mostly noises of metal clanking and machinery hissing and chugging, among other noises that are associated with the mechanical. They do not make for good aural variety, but they are otherwise appropriate for the settings.
As for the music, the best soundtracks are of course the short songs that play before the start of each chapter. They are actually part of a whole song, “Huzzah!”, but have been cleverly edited by their composer, Finn Seliger, to sound like they are separate.
The admirably multi-talented Jan Müller-Michaelis (who is also the writer for the game and one of Daedelic’s co-founders) provides the lyrics for “Huzzah”, just as he had for “Needle & Stitch” in Harvey’s New Eyes and perhaps other in-house Daedelic games in the past. Considering his Deutsch upbringing, that he could force a convincing American accent for the song is commendable.
The other soundtracks are less memorable in comparison, but they are otherwise quite pleasant to listen to and are usually appropriate for the scenarios that they are played in.
In perhaps an unabashed overstatement, Deponia is the culmination of Daedelic’s past experiences in designing adventure games to keep a once-dying genre alive. Deponia may not have addressed all of the issues that occurred in Daedelic’s earlier titles, but it was arguably the best game that Daedelic offered during its time.
or also use the bottom link instead. I remember not too long ago, people were complaining that there was no link on the bottom, and that they hated having to scroll all the way to the top of the page. now that they have that one on the bottom, they would rather use the one on top.
Wouldn't they have to scroll to the bottom too anyway? XD
(Alternatively, they could know that hitting "Ctrl" + "Home" or "End" can do the same trick of bringing them to top or bottom of the page. :P )
@leon2365 said:@edgework said:
You clearly have ad-block turned on. We're expecting an ad up there to pad things. Like I said, you have a crazy plugin being stupid...
this could be the reason some people claim that the links don't work for them. maybe a post should be made to address that it isn't really a bug?
I would suggest another solution:
Have AdBlock Plus, with Element Hiding Helper, block the GameSpot logo so that it doesn't obscure the forum header link.
(Of course, if you actually use the main page and rely on that logo to get there, you may not want to do this. Personally, I just use a bookmark to get to the main page when I do want to.)
Aliens: Infestation is a fun and intense original adventure found only on the Nintendo DS platform. It takes place after the events of the “Aliens” movie, when a U.S. Marine ship named the Sephora discovers a ship called the Sulaco drifting in space near the planet of LV-426, where the exciting events of the aforementioned movie took place. The head honcho on the Sephora, Commander Steele, informs your unit of Marines that they have picked up life sign readings aboard the Sulaco. Your task is to then infiltrate the derelict ship, track down this life form, and hopefully unravel the disastrous events that took place down on LV-426 . . .
From the main menu of this game you have just two choices. The first option is your “Game Save File”, where you go to start up a brand new game the first time you play this title, and forever after where you go to load your previously saved game and resume your Aliens adventure. When you have a game in progress the location of where you are currently at is displayed in this game save file, as well as your overall game completion percentage.
The adventure begins with you in the hangar bay of the Sulaco, in total there are five distinct levels in this game. You begin by making your way through the Sulaco, in search of the life form Commander Steele detected. The second level sees you touch down on planet LV-426, then you head back to the Sulaco for the third level. The moon of Phobos comprises the fourth level of the game, while in the fifth level you return to the Sulaco one last time for the grand finale! As you move through the various levels you figure out what happened on LV-426 and to your team’s horror, what the greedy faction known as U.P.P. plan on doing with these alien creatures you encounter along the way. Your task in the end is pretty simple. Wipe out all traces of these strange and deadly Xenomorphs, by any means necessary. Complete all five levels and you’ve beaten the game, saving (at least temporarily) many innocent lives from the horror that is . . . aliens!
The second choice on the main menu is “Extras”, where you will find the unlockable content included in this game, as well as some other stuff. The first sub-option here is called “Marine Roster”. This sub-option becomes available as soon as you start play on this game, it’s purpose is to give you information on the various Marines that can make up your fighting unit of four. In total there are 20 Marines in this game, as you meet them along the course of your journey they will then show up on this list. Given are the Marines’ names, vital stats, and a short description of their background/history. The second sub-option is “Knife Trick”, a bonus game that is unlocked after you complete the second level of the game (or at least that’s when I unlocked it). The game has a retro arcade vibe to it, basically there is just a hand spread out on a table and you must use your stylus to hit the spaces in between the fingers in a certain sequence, mimicking Bishop’s knife trick from the Aliens movie. A high score is what you’re aiming for! Third is the “Credits” sub-option, which becomes available after you beat the game and lists all of the amazing people who built this masterpiece. And finally comes the “Controls” sub-option, which lists in detail the control scheme behind this game.
While you are out and about in the creepy confines of this game there are a great number of things to watch out for. First of all are your enemies. There are aliens of all types out there waiting and wanting to end your existence. From the face suckers and the little guys that pop out of people’s chests, to the man sized ones that spew acid blood and spit, all the way up to the massive sized queens and more, you’ll find no shortage of cretins to waste your ammo on! You also have other humans to worry about too, once U.P.P. gets involved. A very important thing to watch out for are safe rooms. These rooms are marked by a unique set of doors and there are usually quite a few in each level. When you enter these rooms your health and ammo are automatically topped up, and you can also switch your primary weapon, save your progress, or reassign which Marine you want to control (from the three or less alternative options you have at your disposal). That being said, also keep your eyes open for other stranded Marines during your journey. When a character you control dies in this game they are gone for good and can never come back. You can carry a maximum of four Marines on your active team at any given time, so when one of your soldiers dies and there is an opening, finding one of these Marines is essential in keeping your team at full strength. Whether you add a Marine to your active team or not, just finding them and talking to them is enough to add them to your Marine Roster. Elevators, lifts, doorways, and secret passageways are essential in helping you get around your environments, so always be on the lookout for the different paths you can take through each level. One of the main pickups you’ll find are various types of crates lying around. Crates with the first aid (+) symbol on them help to replenish your health bar (one + gives you a slight replenish, while ++ gives you a bigger dose), crates with green orbs on them replenishes your stock of grenades, crates with yellow cartridges on them help replenish ammunition for primary weapons that use bullets (a single cartridge on the crate is a slight replenish while multiple cartridges on the crate is a more substantial replenish), crates with C8 marked on them replenishes your stock of plastic explosives, and finally crates with a red arrow on them hold a primary weapon upgrade (each primary weapon can be upgraded up to three times, which helps to seriously increase their lethality).
There are some other more one-off pickups that you’ll find, and will be added to your inventory permanently. These items include key cards (they give you access to the various elevators, there are 6 different levels of key cards to be found), a wrench (used to manipulate pipes and stop them from spewing steam), a lamp (used to grant you access to areas that would otherwise be pitch black and unnavigable), a motion detector (in conjunction with your map function it detects nearby life forms and warns you about their location), a welding kit (allows you to open up previously sealed doors), keys for the loader suits (you can use the couple of loaders you come across in the game to either move very large crates or battle larger aliens), an oxygen tank (used on a space suit to head outside the Sulaco, in to space), flares (used to mark locations of prime interest on your map), and most of the primary weapons you’ll use in the game. You have to find these weapons first before you can add them to your arsenal.
As for the game screens, the main game action all unfolds on the top screen. There isn’t much to be aware of on this screen other than a cluster of stuff up in the top left hand corner. There is a box that shows how much ammunition you have left for the primary weapon you currently have equipped, and just to the right of this box are two gauges. The green gauge on top represents your health bar, once it runs out your current Marine perishes and you must select another from your squad to then take his or her place as leader. The red gauge underneath this one represents your stamina gauge, which is used up when you run, jump, fall great distances, etc. This gauge replenishes over time. Just below the gauges are two small icons, the one of the left representing which weapon you are currently using as your primary, and the one on the right representing which secondary weapon you currently have equipped. During cutscenes all of the text/graphics appears on this screen as well.
The bottom screen is navigated entirely with your stylus and it takes on two different incarnations. In it’s primary format this screen has icons representing the four Marines in your squad across the top. When you enter a safe room, or when one of your Marines dies, you then tap on the soldier of your choice that you would like to control instead. Just below the Marines is a whole array of weaponry. On the left is a large icon indicating what you currently have equipped as your primary weapon (fyi, the weapons you can collect in this game include a shotgun, machine gun, repeater gun, and flamethrower), as well as a number below it that represents how many times said weapon has been upgraded. Below this is an icon of just a regular pistol, which is what your character reverts to using as a last resort, if he or she runs out of ammo on their primary weapon. To the right of these primary weapons is a grouping of icons that amount to all of your secondary weapons. Beside each icon will be a number representing how many of these weapons you have left in your arsenal, and they include rockets, flares, C8 explosives, and grenades. The one you currently have equipped will be lightly highlighted in blue. On the right side of the screen are two different clusters of icons. The smaller cluster that is right beside the secondary weapon icons represent some of the various one off items you can find in this game. At first each item is shaded out, but as you collect them the appropriate icon will light up. The icons here include the key card (with a number in it representing what level you’ve collected up to), the wrench, the keys to the loader suit, the oxygen tank, and the motion detector. As for the larger cluster of icons, they are located along the right edge of the screen and include the weld icon (once you have collected the welding kit tap on this icon when you run in to a sealed door and it will then be unsealed), the light icon (once you collect the lamp tap on this icon when you enter a dark area and it will be lit up like a Christmas tree), and the map icon (initially you’ll have to find a couple different computer terminals to get your map synced up with Commander Steele, but once you do it is yours to keep forever and ever!).
Click on the map icon I last mentioned and you will then be shown the bottom game screen’s second format, the map screen. The level you are currently playing will be laid out on this screen in schematic form and you can use your stylus to swipe it left or right, up or down, to view it in it’s entirety. On the map screen the large light blue circle represents you character, the smaller dark blue circles that pulse are other life forms that your motion detector is picking up (if equipped), the red squares with an S inside of them indicate the locations of safe houses (once they are found for the first time), while yellow or green circles indicate the location of any objectives you may be in search of (if applicable). Unexplored corridors and rooms will appear in a dark blue colour, while areas you have already explored appear as a very light blue hue. As for the pause screen, when you halt the game action on Aliens: Infestation you are simply presented with two options: Continue or Quit.
Now for the controls, and this is a very well laid out scheme, fun to use. To move your character around his or her environments press left or right on the analog button or directional buttons. To aim your weapon upwards press up, and to crouch/duck press down. The up and down buttons are also used to engage the elevators and lifts. The L button is used to lock your character’s feet in place, so you won’t move while aiming/shooting your weapon at a target. The R button on the other hand is used to make your Marine sprint like his or her life depends on it! And most times it does. The A button is how you interact with various things in your environment like talking to other humans, using computer terminals, etc. The B button is used to initiate a jump, the Y button fires your primary weapon, while the X button fires your secondary weapon. Finally, the Select button cycles through your secondary weapons and the Start button pauses the game.
The presentation backing this game is amazing! The graphics are done in a cartoon style but not kiddy cartoon, they have a more realistic type look to them, and they are highly detailed. The Aliens franchise would be proud of how this game stacks up to the movies, it fits right in with the whole series and implements a lot of the same elements and storylines, at the same time maintaining it’s own unique aspect. The sound is great, the game music suits the type of action that is unfolding as you move through the game and the sound effects, especially those of the aliens, are chillingly realistic. The controls are excellent as I mentioned previously, which makes gameplay very easy and enjoyable.
The pros are many in this game, and as you may have guessed the presentation behind it is one of the main ones! This game looks, sounds, and feels so good, it is just a pleasure to play it, way too much fun! I also appreciate how faithful it is to the Aliens franchise. I love the Aliens series, especially the “Aliens” movie, so this game being closely tied to those events made me really excited. The additional content was really cool, I love both the work put in to the character bios and the Knife Trick game. The motion detector I found to be a real big plus as well. That beeping sound that takes place in the movie as the Aliens got closer to the Marines is exactly the sound you find in this game, and I consider that to be one of the most recognizable aspects of the Aliens movies. It helped make this game really intense! And finally, I loved the progressive nature of the game. Of the five game levels, in three of them you are aboard the Sulaco. Each time you revisit the ship you explore it a bit further, depending on what types of gadgets and items you add to your inventory, until finally you have explored the whole ship and come to the end of the game. It’s almost like a maze in a way, but not one of those confusing ones where you have no idea what you’re doing and you succeed more on luck than anything else. In this one you just have to be thorough, diligent, and use your brain. On the downside the only thing I might mention here is the game’s length, as it only has five levels in total. However, those five levels are all pretty long in the grand scheme of things, but even so some extra content might have been nice, but this factor doesn’t bring the game down at all by any means.
In terms of tips and tricks I can offer, I do have a few. First of all, keep you map screen up at all times and only switch to your Marines/weapons/items screen when you have to. You’ll want to pay close attention to where you’re going, where you’ve been, and where you’ve yet to go, in order to get a grasp on the overall layout of the level. It will help speed your progress through the level with as little backtracking as possible. Second, be thorough, as every additional gadget, weapon, upgrade, etc. will just make your fight that much easier. Third, keep an eye out for the upgrade crates and use them all over time, to upgrade all of your weapons to their fullest. I find the flamethrower the best overall weapon, but they all have their uses and the more powerful they become the less damage you’ll take and the easier time you’ll have of it. Lastly, save often and always save before key moments like a long, hard boss fight. The longer you keep your original Marines on your roster the more you’ll have in reserve for when the game truly gets nasty. Be frugal!!
To summarize, despite being maybe a bit too short, that is way overshadowed by the fact that Aliens: Infestation is one of the most exciting, well executed video games I’ve played in quite a while, not only for the DS but overall! I heard it didn’t sell all that well, which is a shame because this game is truly a hidden gem. If you have any sort of DS system and don’t own this game, go out and get it, you won’t be disappointed . . .
@Floppy_Jim: Man that was such a complete letdown after Warhawk. Such a shame.. hope they reboot the series this gen!