An incredible point and click adventure that tells a wonderful and compelling story.
+ I've said it before but let me repeat that I am not a real big fan of point and click adventures. This game, however, really made me see this genre in a new light and I completely respect this game.
The main problem with point and click adventures are their tendency for obscure and frustrating puzzles that require you to combine random objects to solve unnecessary problems. This game, however, does away with those unbelievable scenarios and really tones it down. Sure, there are a few instances in the game where you have to deal with some rather obscure puzzles but overall they were not too terrible to figure out. You never have a mammoth inventory with an impossible amount of items to interact with on screen, and you are never search to find the right hidden pixel to click on screen. It's very friendly and comforting, but still challenging enough where you do have to think a few parts through. This really helps the story progress and keep a fluid pace through the game. You'll rarely find one spot where you will be stuck for an hour, running back and forth trying to figure out what to do. Which I found completely enjoyable.
The other thing that makes this game more user friendly is the ability to quickly scroll through your inventory. By pressing A or S your mouse cursor will scroll through all the items in your inventory. If any item is usable when hovering over an on-screen object then your cursor will start to flash. This allows you to quickly see which items are relevant and prevents you from having to click through every item in your inventory, drag it back to the screen, click on an on-screen object, hear a negative voice comment saying you were wrong, and having to repeat this for every inventory item. And even if the item starts flashing it may not mean you have everything you need, it may just mean you are on the right path and need to find something else. Again, it's helpful and simple but never becomes a "push this button to win" type of game either.
One extra thing that I found pleasant about this game was discovered after I read the manual. They said that you can never die in the game because they thought adventure games were supposed to be rewarding and never punish the player. So instead of spending a lot of time trying to solve a weird puzzle, moving forward in the game, and then dying and have to restart all over, in this game you will only progress forward. Everything you do is a constant step towards completion. And it's comforting to know that you will never catch yourself in a moment where you've made a big mistake and have trapped yourself. And you don't have to worry about needlessly saving too many times because you're not sure if you'll die and have to replay a certain part. It takes the artificial game elements out of the game and helps you just enjoy the story.
Finally, and most importantly, this game has a fast forward button. Don't feel like watching your character's walking animation? Press Escape a few times and she'll end up where you want. Don't feel like hearing a conversation you've already had? Press Escape and you'll skip it. It is extremely helpful and cuts down on the wasted time where you are just watching a very slow and tedious animation. If you are the type who likes to watch it all then feel free to. But if you're like me and would rather skip through some of the unnecessary animations then this is a perfect way to speed things up and get to where you want to be.
After playing this game I have realized that my dislike for point and click adventures does not lie in the fault of the genre but in the fault of the other games that made you do mundane chores. Gone are the wacky and complex puzzles. Gone are the tireless combinations of inventory items. Gone are the slow and boring animations. Gone is the time waiting through repetitious and irrelevant conversation. Instead, what you have is a point and click adventure that focuses on approachable puzzles that serve to enhance the story and keep things moving at a steady pace.
+ If you look up a list of the best stories in video games then you'll most likely find this game on that list. And to be honest that was one of the main reasons I wanted to play the game--to see what all the praise was about. And I wasn't disappointed.
Just like the gameplay takes a unique approach to the adventure genre, this game's story also takes a unique approach. Most games before were silly and goofy worlds (don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the humor in Monkey Island games as much as anyone). But this game really approached a serious and heavy subject.
You are April Ryan, a girl living on Earth a few hundred years in the future. Your dreams begin to grow stranger and more realistic and soon you find that your world and your dreams are intermingling. As events unfold you find out that there are actually two worlds (one relying on science and one relying on magic). Originally they were all one world but they had to be separated and a guardian must watch over this balance, but the guardian is failing and it is up to you to explore both worlds and find a way to restore the Balance.
That was a horrible oversimplification of the real plot and it does a real disservice to how great the story actually is. You will travel back and forth between two worlds, meet all sorts of interesting and unique characters and creatures, and have to face plenty of doubts and trials as you deal with the situation that has suddenly been thrust upon you.
The game does have its own unique humor, but it's a lot more subtle and clever rather than being in-your-face. Little asides that the character tends to make when observing the environment. Also, as a warning there are some mature issues discussed in the game including religion, drugs, harsh language, sex references, and abuse. But all are handled respectfully and thought-provokingly, which really makes you think.
So yes, I was completely satisfied with the story and think it is one of the best video game stories ever. It is entirely creative and imaginative, yet deep and intellectual. And it's hard to explain just how appealing it is, but I think it's safe to say that after you play through it you'll agree.
+ Let's be honest. You aren't playing this game for the graphics. It's a very old game so expect some discomforting jagged edges (like the characters are made from shards of glass). Still, it has its own beauty in the art and environments. The backgrounds are all flat images, but the characters in the game are 3D models. There are a few prerendered cutscenes which look better than the in-game footage, but oddly enough in these scenes the main character looks a lot worse and distorted than in game. Still, enjoy the game for the story and adventure. Don't worry about the graphics.
+ The game took me about 14.5 hours to complete. And for a point and click adventure that seems like a very lengthy time. In fact a lot of other modern games rarely come close to that length. And it never felt tedious like the game was overextending its time. If you have some extra difficulty with some of the puzzles, or you tend to watch all the animations and listen all the conversations then you can definitely get a few more hours of gameplay.
The game doesn't really offer much replay value because it is really linear, and once you solve the puzzles they tend to be less mysterious. But it's not hard to see myself replaying this game in a few years to remember the adventure and recall what made it so pleasant.
I thought $10 was kind of a high price for such an old game but after playing through it I think that cost is entirely fair. It is one of the best adventure games for the PC, it has a terrific story, and it has a very lengthy amount of content in it. So yes, I would absolutely recommend this game to everyone. If you love adventure games then you are really missing out by not playing this. And if you aren't that big of an adventure fan (like I was) then I still say you should try it, because you may be entirely surprised at what this game has to offer. And who knows, you may come to see the genre from a new angle after playing it.