by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
A Break from the Norm
When I think about point-and-click adventure games, my mind tends to lead me to games like Sam and Max, Simon the Sorcerer, Broken Sword, and Day of the Tentacle. These are all whacky and colourful fictional games with vivid characters and loads of humour. What I don’t tend to imagine when the subject comes up is historical accuracy, a focus on realism, and a plot based on actual historical events. It is safe to say that A Stroke of Fate: Operation Valkyrie is a game that has shattered all my preconceived notions of what a point-and-click game should be.
Not Your Average Nazi
Right from the very beginning you will see that the amount of research that has gone into making this game as realistic as possible is simply astounding. Following the opening cut scene, where you get to know your role in the world and get a taste of the inner struggle going on in your character’s mind, you will take control of him in his own house. Your name is Gerhard Mayer. You are a high ranking officers in the Schutzstaffel (S.S.), a “Standartenfuhrer” to be precise. For a while now, the Nazi parties atrocities at the death camps, its blatant disregard for the lives of German soldiers on the front lines, and its inability to manage the interior affairs of daily German life have caused you to lose faith in the Nazi party. As it turns out, you are not alone.
The game begins with you standing in your house next to your wardrobe. To begin with, you will have two options when selecting your outfit: A normal civilian suit and an S.S. Uniform, complete with a hat and a long leather trench coat. Your selection will influence the way you interact with the characters in the world. Spies and informants are not very likely to divulge information to a man wearing a Nazi uniform and S.S. guards are similarly disinclined to grant you access to heavily guarded German outposts if you show up in civilian clothing. You will immediately notice the vast number of interactive objects in the world as you take a stroll through your relatively small two bedroom apartment. Books in the bookshelves can be examined and your desk is filled with case files and other materials, all based on actual documents from the period.
Looking Good Already
Your main objective in this game will be to plot the assassination of Hitler himself and rally co-conspirators to your cause. The real twist is that at the same time, you are tasked with the investigation of a suspected assassination plot on the fuhrer himself, the very plot you are actively planning.
The graphics in the game look good and the locations, models and textures all work wonders at bringing the Germany of the period to life. As I mentioned before, a great deal of research has obviously been done in order to make the surroundings and the visuals as realistic as possible. The examinable books and case files laying around, although in many cases completely redundant, are very interesting to anyone not simply looking to play through the game as fast as they can, but enjoy learning a bit more about the history behind the game as they play through it. There are, however, a few worries I have as to the immersion the game has to offer.