by Marcus Mulkins
previewed on PC
It's Only Make-Believe
It's called "suspension of disbelief". When you read fantasy literature, you believe that magic works. When watching a gun battle on TV, you ignore the fact that the weapons seem to have an infinite supply of ammunition. When seeing a romantic moment in a movie where the two lovers start to dance, you imagine that they too can hear the music in the background soundtrack. In all manner of fiction, when the author says, "Assume that...", you dutifully make that assumption and plow on until "The End".
Some assumptions, givens, can often be a bit too much of a stretch for the suspension of disbelief to work easily. Like, we're all familiar with "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". I remember quite clearly the moment in one episode where Jake quite casually mentions that the Federation doesn't use money, and hasn't done so for several generations. We're not talking currency; we're talking money, as in EVERYTHING is F-R-E-E. I recall having to clean up the mouthful of milk I spewed all over the place when I heard that.
Now along comes Culpa Innata from developer Momentum-DMT and publisher Strategy First.
Adrianopolis - 2047
"It is the golden age in mankind's evolution. For the first time in history, countries with significant resources have united under one World Union. In this utopian society, "survival of the fittest" takes its next inevitable step. Only the elite are deemed worthy to live under the World Union banner - the smartest, healthiest, and wealthiest. Forsaking the altruistic tendencies that have crippled individual development and economic progress in the past, the World Union has ushered in an unprecedented era of self-interest and fulfillment. Prosperity is a science, sex is entertainment, disease and capital crime are non-existent, and the future has never looked better.”
Fortunately, I wasn't eating anything when I read the background premise. "Only the elite are deemed worthy to live under the World Union banner." Better than half of the land mass on the globe, and they've somehow removed everyone that wasn't Upper Class? It's "an unprecedented era of self-interest and fulfillment" -- which means rampant consumerism is the norm. Okay, if the only people allowed to live in this Brave New World are the wealthy elite, just who is making, distributing, and delivering all of the widgets, gadgets, knickknacks, and whatzits that we own that make our lives comfortable? Automated factories? Do they also grow, harvest, transport, process, distribute, and prepare ALL of the food? Who digs the ditches, does the laundry, and the myriad of menial, filthy tasks that no machine can do, but no well-to-do person would even consider doing? Would it be nearly as satisfying to a megalomaniac to lord over ranks of subservient machines than over legions of lesser human beings? "...[D]isease and capital crime are non-existent..." The disease part I can believe, but NO capital crime? In a society that runs on greed, there's NO embezzlement? NO robbery? NO major frauds? NO crimes of passion?
This setting is about as unreal as the society put forth in "Demolition Man". ("We haven't had a violent crime here in over 20 years!") AND we are supposed to believe that we are going to go from here to there in only 40 years? Pull the other one; it has bells on it.
Moving Right Along
Given that you can make your Suspension Of Disbelief mechanism work better than mine, you'll find that Culpa Innata is going to be a very immersive game. The graphics are first rate, the interface straightforward with its point-and-click component working quite well, and there are LOTS of settings and characters to keep you occupied. The background information is thoroughly fleshed out. (You can get a hefty taste of that if you visit the game's website. Be sure to check out the different department links at the bottom of the page!)
The game is more or less a typical detective investigation: Get briefed on why you are assigned to the case. Go to the scene of the crime. Examine evidence and scrounge for clues. Go to where the clues lead you. Talk to people -- LOTS of people. Find more clues. Unravel puzzles along the way. Discover hints about What Is Really Going On. Arrive at climatic conclusion. Foil the Bad Guys' plans. Wrap up the case and hint at the potential for a sequel. The End. Roll credits.
Of course, there may be a thousand routes you can take to get from Point A to Point B; some make for more enjoyable trips than others. Culpa Innata looks like it will be one of those much more enjoyable trips.