by Ryan Phillip Hardesty
previewed on PC
The Start of a Beautiful Friendship
A young New Yorker, recently accepted to the University of California, Berkeley, is set to embark for the West Coast but decides to make a quick stop at a bookstore. Before he can, however, he nearly runs over a beautiful woman fleeing from something. After taking her to the hospital the young man discovers she’s a nightclub dancer on the run from the mafia after being handed a mysterious crucifix and witnessing a murder. From there on, the two embark on a journey neither one of them could’ve expected.
Sounds a little corny right? Well, it is, and that’s exactly what the Spanish developers over at Pendulo Studios had in mind when they released Runaway: A Road Adventure back in 2003. They debuted a point-and-click game in the humorous vein of Sam & Max and Monkey Island before it. In 2007 a sequel was released; Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle, and now, three years later, Pendulo is set to complete their planned trilogy with Runaway 3: A Twist of Fate.
Brian Basco and Gina Timmins, the aforementioned pair, play into the odd couple-type scenario. Brian, initially, is a full-blown nerd and Gina is quite the hottie (actually modeled off of Spanish actress Natalie Estrada and American actress/cleavage-enthusiast Jennifer Love Hewitt). The two eventually fell in love and during the first two parts of the series they encountered mafia henchmen, insane scientists, manic soldiers, aliens and all sorts of other wackos filled to the brim on the character-meter. Taking place in distinct locales (a road trip from coast to coast in the first game, with the second game taking place in Hawaii) the player controlled Brian in numerous pixel-hunting quests and dialogue trees.
All of this is, of course, light exposition designed to set people up for the third and final act but the developers intend for A Twist of Fate to virtually stand-alone anyway. Knowing not all players will have caught up with the story, Pendulo has designed the game so that anyone can step in and take control of the characters and not have to worry too heavily about the backstory (though there will be plenty of hidden references for all you Runaway loyalists out there and most likely a recap video like there was in Dream of the Turtle). But, to put things in perspective of where A Twist of Fate begins, let me help clear things up a bit. Oh, and thar be spoilers too…
A Different Kind of Beginning
At the end of The Dream of the Turtle, Brian is faced with the task of rescuing Gina from suspended animation at the bottom of a lake but surrounding her is an entire army under the command of sadistic Colonel Kordsmeier. The music ramps up, Brian states his conviction and all his companions agree to help him in his journey…
…and that’s it. It ends there. Obviously an ending meant to spur the minds of the fans for the third outing, this cliffhanger will, oddly enough, not be continued in A Twist of Fate’s beginning. Instead, players will be treated with a somber scene meant to stir up the narrative. The first few moments of the game deal with a lone Gina at Brian’s funeral. Tossing a rose into the grave, the distraught Gina walks away and from there the game begins.
This dismal tone will be something representative of the new Runaway as a whole. Whittling down their last few intentions, the developers have set their eyes on a darker story. Though the humor will most definitely be a mainstay, expect the narrative to be a tad bit darker. Flashbacks will be utilized, depicting how Gina came to be rescued, why there was a funeral for Brian and why some of the stills for A Twist of Fate show Brian in a prison uniform. Gamers can expect to do most of this in Gina’s footsteps as she will take over as the main protagonist in light of Brian’s mysterious absence, but with over an hour and twenty minutes worth of cinematic sequences, fans should looked forward to getting all their questions answered by the game’s end.
Grittier & Prettier
The darker story will seep into the visuals as well. Visuals have always been a strong suit in both previous Runaway games and A Twist of Fate looks to be no different, particularly due to the new graphics engine designed for the game. Characters will have a much larger range of emotion - characters that will actually come off as legitimate cartoons, something much different from the rather static expressions found in the previous games. The new engine itself will display the art in vibrant resolution with each and every background having been hand-drawn from scratch. The backgrounds will reflect the darker storyline - scenes of dark alleyways, graveyards, insane asylums and other locales a far cry from the pristine pleasures of Hawaii.
The gameplay will see little change from the first two installments. Inventory and logic puzzles will still be the main course but there will be a couple small changes here and there, such as the ability to pause anywhere in-game with a press of the space bar, including cut scenes, and a new hint system courtesy of the mad genius Joshua who will help with, but never outright solve, any problems you come across.
Currently available in parts of Europe, Runaway: A Twist of Fate has a March/April release date set for the United States, the UK and Australia.