Review by glass_soul
Too expensive, not enough there to justify the price
Okay, so there's an interesting story behind this one. Originally, Adam's Venture: Chronicles was available on the PS Store for $11.99. As usual with my criteria, it looked interesting (or at least pleasantly terrible) and it was on the down side from twenty bucks so I bought it. And, like a bunch of my other collection, I proceeded to ignore it in favor of whatever I was working on at the time. That was in 2013, I think. Fast forward to about three weeks ago, and what do I see on the PS Store, but Adam's Venture again! Right near the top! And now costing 29.99! Thinking the 'Chronicles' in the title simply meant that this was the new, perhaps better due to the significant price installment of the game, I went ahead and bought it without looking at the description at all. That turned out to be a mistake, because if you haven't already guessed, it was the exact same game. So that's my first strike against Adam's Venture: Chronicles. I can justify a 12 dollar price tag, but in no way, shape or form is this game worth 30 bucks. And that's not just me saying that because I'm irritated that my spending habits screwed me on this one. After all, my scorecard is still way ahead. Let's take a closer look at the matter at hand, though, shall we?
Taking place in 1928, you control one Adam Venture, a . . . you know, I'm not even sure what he's supposed to be. Archaeologist/adventurer is kind of a generic guess, and he's the son of a wealthy something-or-other. But beyond that, events in the story seem to indicate that Adam and his cohort, his father's new assistant Evelyn, stumbled backward into this mess. Anyway, Adam has helped discover a map that supposedly pinpoints the location of the biblical Garden of Eden in a mountain range in the Middle East. Financed by the Clairvaux Corporation, the pair accompanied by Professor Omir who shared the credit of the discovery set off to excavate their discovery. But all isn't how it seems or this wouldn't make a very interesting video game. The Clarivaux Corporation has its own ideas of how to handle the discovery, and the digging has awakened something ancient and sinister deep under the mountains.
The game plays very much like a non-violent version of one of the older Tomb Raider games. Adam can climb on things, push objects, and crouch to get to hard to reach spots as he explores the caves and other areas in the game. In that respect, I have to give Chronicles props for making the exploration part fun. I guess I'm just one of those people who can't resist peeking to see what's around the next corner. And the environments are well done and interesting enough to be fun to explore.
Also, like the Tomb Raiders of yore, Chronicles is very puzzle heavy. Here, though, I had considerably less fun. Some of them are very interesting and it's not hard to figure out at least what you are expected to do. Others I had no clue as to what was expected, even after screwing around with them, and the lack of instructions only adds to the confusion. Also, I'm not a huge fan of mathematical puzzles and this game is lousy with them. Depending on your tastes, you're either going to love it or look up a strategy guide. I did the latter.
Despite the moniker 'Chronicles', this game is very short, easily beatable in less than a day. It's divided into three episodes, for absolutely no good reason I can see. None of them are terribly long, and the game doesn't really require chapters as such in the first place. I think this particular game was actually originally released in episodic format on Steam or some such similar site. Anyhow, aside from a few of the trickier puzzles, the whole shouldn't take more than two to three hours to slog through. So there's another strike against its price.
Graphically, I'd say the game is about on par with a mid-generation PS2 or Xbox title, which isn't bad for a completely digital game. However while the graphics aren't bad, the animation seems to be done with very early mo-cap technology. While there's nothing wrong with it per se during the actual game, every action in the cut scenes is done in wild over-exaggeration. When Evelyn and Adam have a conversation, it looks like two liberal arts majors expressing their angst over the corporate injustice of the American system through dance. Or, if you'd rather, two epileptics having seizures mid-sentence. The point is they do more pointless flailing around while talking than someone who just stepped on a hornets nest. This, combined with charmingly sub par voice acting that ranges from 'inappropriate inflection at the wrong time' to 'ordering Chinese for lunch', gives the game an unfortunate amateurish feel throughout the whole thing.
Dovetailing on that thought, the overall plot is ridiculous. The corporation winds up being evil (obviously) and run by a guy who wants to blow everything up for the sake of being bad. Never mind that the various ruins where most of the game takes place are valuable finds that could gain his company wealth and influence. He just wants to blow that **** right up. The only sense that makes is if it was a comically heavy-handed villain trying to hurt Christianity, since all the locations are important to the Christian faith and oh ****, that's it isn't it?
I have no evidence beyond the circumstantial to support this theory, but I'm fairly sure that Adam's Venture: Chronicles was meant to be a Christian game. As in a video game that teaches Christian values. Sort of like, say, Bible Adventures on NES. And, unfortunately, the sub-par game play, terrible audio, overblown animation, and cartoonish villains are all hallmarks of the genre. Also consider the following. The game takes place in the Middle East and involves biblical locations. Some of the puzzles are simply putting chopped up scripture verses in the correct order. There's virtually no violence in the whole game; anyone who dies does so off screen and though you can get Adam killed, it's actually pretty difficult to do so. Hell, the main characters are named Adam and Eve, for crying out loud. Given all of that, I think I've made a fairly solid case here. Plus the entirety of the game has this kind of superior, smarmy, holier-than-thou (not sure if that was meant to be a pun) attitude that tarnishes most projects like this and sort of loses the message anyway by of talking down to the player. Seriously, how likely are you to listen to someone if they talk to you like you're an idiot?
Now, I'm not anti-religious or anti-Christian. I do sort of think that your eternal salvation isn't necessarily something that needs to be trivialized by being translated into a form of consumable media. That's all I will say on the subject. I guess I'm just kind of a purist when it comes to my entertainment. There's a difference between a game making you think and trying to educate you. Making you think, like puzzling through the labyrinths in Zelda or the psychotic architect designs of Resident Evil, is a good thing. It gives you a sense of accomplishment when you do figure the problems out and gets you more invested in the game as a whole. Trying to educate you, as in the Oregon Trail or any other vintage computer lab 'game' you care to name (anyone remember the name of that math-based one where you would go into a dungeon and unavoidably starve because you didn't bring enough food?), is school thinly veiled as frivolous entertainment. I don't mind learning new things. I do not, however, appreciate such things being slipped to me on the sly. And this one cleaves more towards the Oregon Trail than Tetris. Any one of these complaints could be just shrugged off in a game that was actually good. But Chronicles is, as I've stated, already a mediocre. Underneath all these problems, it unfortunately gets completely crushed.
Overall, I'd have to say you should pass this one up. The original 11.99 price tag is reasonable for what you get, but there's not enough here in terms of game play or quality to justify 29.99. Despite some nice environments and a few really neat concepts (their personification of the Serpent is, actually, really damn cool) there's not enough to enjoy here.
3 out of 10.
Product Release: Adam's Venture Chronicles (US, 02/04/14)
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