by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
No just scraps
In recent years, big game publishers have turned their backs on adventure games and left publishing any titles in this genre to their smaller colleagues. Some of these publishers, including companies such as DreamCatcher Interactive and Lighthouse Interactive, have enthusiastically picked up these ‘scraps’, making a decent living out of it while keeping the genre alive. In doing so, they are proving that many gamers still enjoy a good adventure game and that the market is perhaps a bit bigger than some may think. Publisher Kalypso Media thinks so too and teamed up with developer Realmforge Studios to bring us a delightful adventure game called Ceville.
This name, Ceville, is the name of the ruler of the kingdom of Faeryanis. What he lacks in stature (he is rather short), he makes up in mouthiness. If one were to ask him about how he was perceived by his subjects, he would likely answer “I don’t give a damn! Now stop bothering me, I have important matters to attend to!” after which he would go and have a snack. In short, Ceville is a tyrant that most people would love to see dethroned. Basilus, Ceville’s most trusted counselor, turns out to be not so trustworthy after all. He instigates a revolt in the hopes of taking the throne of Faeryanis and plunging it into eternal darkness under his rule. Ceville knows Basilus’ true intentions, but being cooped up in jail isn’t the best position to be in when one wants to reclaim ones throne.
Ceville is a traditional point&click adventure, but presented in such a way that it actually feels fairly novel. It is difficult to describe why, as the main ingredient –the interaction with the game world – is no different than your average adventure game. The game’s graphics and its setting play a role in why I perceived the game as different from most of its peers, but I didn’t get this feeling right from the start. It wasn’t until the third character, a charming girl named Lilly, was introduced that the game came alive for me.
You see, your characters will have to work together in order for you to achieve your goals. Realmforge makes this aspect of the game clear from the moment that Ceville and Lilly meet. Ceville convinces Lilly of Basilus’ evil intentions and that he is the only one who can save the kingdom from disaster. To break out of jail, you will need to talk to people and use objects located both on the inside of the jail (manipulated by Ceville) and outside of it (worked on by Lilly).
The second character, Ambrosius, a Gilderoy Lockhart-esque paladin, is actually in the same scene when Ceville and Lilly meet. He is so busy with his hair that he has no time to team up with them. Apart from a very short bout early on, he is not playable until a bit later in the game. Characters spend quite a bit of time in each other’s presence but will split up when the situation lends itself to do so.
If it weren’t for the space bar revealing all objects, finding useable ones is at times nigh on impossible. Fortunately combining inventory items with each other or with objects on the screen is easily done and most of the combinations make sense. While it may not be immediately obvious how to get the merchant’s smelly cheese, you will know what to do with it long before you have gotten your hands on it. Still, there are enough puzzles that won’t be easily solved and, as with any good adventure game, patience is a virtue.
The personalities of each of the three characters and Ceville and Ambrosius in particular, have been worked out very well. Ceville, naughty but loveable, does most of the dirty work, while Lilly is more skilled in diplomacy. Ambrosius, well… he gets in the way most of the time, and that is just what you would expect. The voice work for each three has been masterfully done and it is was a pleasure listening to the conversations, jokes and banter with each other and with the game’s many colorful NPCs.
Kalypso Media rightfully claims that Ceville’s humor and setting is similar to that of the Shrek movies. Numerous games, tales and movies turned out to be easy prey for the script writers. Out of place objects (a jukebox in the torture room) and characters (Horny the Horned Reaper) only add to the merriment and I often caught myself chuckling over one weird thing or another that graced my screen.
My only gripe with the game is its camera. The camera is not quite static as it moves along with your characters when you reach the edge of the current screen, or when it would be prudent to zoom in on the area where the action is. Some items may be just outside of your current viewpoint, and walking closer will cause the camera to scroll along with you. This sounds okay, but it gave me the odd sensation of the camera being restrictive, not allowing me to see all that I needed to see.
This one minor issue aside, Ceville is a wonderful game that is sure to please fans of the genre. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously, nor does it anything else for that matter, and that is just the way I like my adventure games to be.
No Pros and Cons at this time