Review by Psalm51
Want a bus of drag queens in your game? You've got it...
Let me start by saying that the point and click adventure genre is my least favourite type of computer game. Having said that, I haven't given up on them and like playing one every 3-6 months. I'm not sure why I play them, but the experience of playing one every now and then is enjoyable. I make a point of having a game FAQ available when I play and Runaway - A Road Adventure (just Runaway from now on) catered for this perfectly. Operating the Windows button (bottom LHS of the keyboard) allowed me to suspend the game and consult the FAQ and operating the Windows button again, allowed me to start playing the game again. Well done Pendulo Studios (game Developer) for designing a game with someone like me in mind!
Introduction - Runaway was initially released in Spain, so I'm told, and was localised and released for English speaking gamers later on in 2003. For it's time, it got a number of things right from the word go. The 1024 x 768 screen resolution (fixed) was a good choice, as that resolution had become popular with advent of better graphics cards and larger screens. The chapter approach to story development works extremely well with this type of game and this concept was extended in Runaway, by allowing chapters to be restarted at any time from the main screen. Add to this a close-to-cinematic feel to things and you can see the developers got the basics right. So much so that they released a sequel soon afterwards and have just released another one in 2010. I have no idea how the games have sold, but they deserve to do well.
Gameplay - 8 out of 10. For this genre, the game stands or falls by the quality of the gameplay (notably, the puzzles you solve) and the story line. Gameplay in Runaway is traditional for point and click games and keeps things simple throughout. There are no fancy mini-games, timed sequences or fancy potion blending here. Having said that, some of the puzzles are hard enough but I suspect a seasoned adventure gamer would complete the game in 5-10 hours. As mentioned above, I don't play games just to get stumped because my lateral thinking isn't good enough, thus my liberal use of a FAQ throughout. In fact, I maintain that either a good hint system or a basic FAQ should be shipped with all point and click adventure games. After all, I don't pay money for games just to have my progress blocked because I can't work out which way around to attach wires to batteries, just to get a light to turn on!
Story - 8 out of 10. The story is pretty simple and well done throughout. As to be expected, there is a twist just before the game ends, but we have come to expect that sort of thing! I guess that some might be disappointed by the lack of roads and driving in the adventure (the title does say Road Adventure!) but this is belatedly made up for as the game ends. As the story ends, it feels set up for a sequel, but not enough to make you feel cheated. I can't say too much about the story without risking giving plot points away, but, if a game that lets you interact with a bus full of drag queens doesn't make you laugh, you are indeed a hard person.
Graphics/Sound - 9 out of 10. Pretty much spot on, I'd say. 2D "Broken Sword" graphics are used throughout (bear in mind this is a 2002/3 game), but well done, all the same. Voice work is great and the atmospheric music is perfectly judged.
Play Time/Replayability - 4 out of 10. I'd say that it's a short game, but I didn't allow myself to get stumped by the more difficult puzzles. To be fair, it is really hard to say what length is ideal in games and one persons short is another persons long enough game. The consensus is that Fable was a short game. I'd agree but I would say more that it ends abruptly. Some say that Jade Empire is also a short game. Not me as the action-RPG sub-genre does not need long games but good exciting games. In my reckoning, Runaway is slightly shorter than the average point and click adventure game, but only slightly shorter. Replay it? Nope; you would be better off playing one of the sequels next.
Final Recommendation - 8 out of 10. Armed with a good FAQ and a reasonable amount of patience, you will find playing Runaway to be fun. Pros...Great graphics and sound, well done cinematic moments, good story and tried and tested gameplay. Cons...It is a short game and some of the puzzles and game mechanics (clicking on the same object more than once to achieve an objective) can be obtuse. You probably won't spot it in a game store now, but if you see it available as a modestly priced download, you won't be disappointed. If games like this keep appearing on the scene then the point and click adventure game genre will never die!
Product Release: Runaway: A Road Adventure (EU, 02/28/03)
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