by Ryan Sandrey
reviewed on PC
Ernest Hamilton, I presume?
In Fatshark’s new co-op puzzler, Hamilton’s Great Adventure, the eponymous explorer delights his granddaughter with stories of his adventures across the four corners of the world. These adventures tell the story of how Hamilton tries to recover a power source, called a 'fluxatron', that was stolen from his associate's ground-breaking new invention, Transmorphanizer. Promising over 60 levels in 4 areas and innovative gameplay, this game certainly won’t collect dust. Hamilton’s companion Sasha, however, will.
The premise of the game is simple. You have to navigate through complex levels, whilst along the way being rated on various factors such as number of attempts taken and amount of treasure collected. Each area of the games consists of 10+ ‘main’ levels, where completion is required to advance in the game and advance the story, a final ‘challenge’ level which requires you to navigate a large and complex level in order to get the necessary information from the stubborn guardian at the end of an area, and a varying number of bonus levels depending on how many gold ratings you received during your intrepid explorations throughout the levels.
Adding to the complexity is the need to use your beloved feathered companion Sasha to collect treasure, collect dust for Hamilton’s special powers, and to operate switches to allow you to advance throughout the level, which is completed by the collection of a gold key to open the final door. But if you think you will be able to walk through the levels virtually unopposed, then you are in for a shock. Hamilton encounters a wide range of obstacles, such as the lumbering behemoth that is the Sentinel and sink-pits that swallow Hamilton whole if he resides on the square for too long, as well as the mysterious Agent. All in all, it makes for a challenging puzzler, but with a gradual learning curve to ease you into the game, so that you never feel like the game is asking too much of you.
The view from here is stunning.
The engine Hamilton’s Great Adventure is built on Bitsquid, which was built from scratch to run DirectX10 and 11 only. This unfortunately means that, for those of you still clinging on to Windows XP, you’ll be unable to play this game. This is a risky move by Fatshark, as 21% of all players on Steam still use Windows XP. However, this compromise means that everyone who meets the requirements for this game is greeted with a visually stunning game. Even on my 2 year old DX10 machine, the game looks amazing with lush environments spanning the likes of the Amazon rainforest, and the sandy ruins of Ancient Egypt, and fantastic animation combined with cartoon styling meaning that it is visually impressive for the budget that Fatshark will have had to create the game, and is far superior to several of the console ‘ports’ we have received in recent years.
The clichéd story of the theft of the ‘fluxatron’ and the adventures that followed are told by Hamilton to his grand-daughter, Amy, via a series of slide-show style sketches in cut scenes. There is little to no voice acting, just the odd noise or ‘hmm’ coming from Hamilton in cut-scenes, but that doesn’t detract from the game, instead enhancing the in-game experience of the catchy music that follows you around. If you aren’t humming one of the songs from the game by the time you finish playing it, with the classy double-bass and subdued orchestral sounds, then I deplore your sense of rhythm and taste in music.
Fly my pretty! No, not there!
The game isn’t without its problems. Along the way, I encountered many problems with the camera. The camera is locked onto Hamilton, so moving Sasha to collect Dust that is scattered around the level and open treasure chests can be a frustrating experience. Even with the controls allowing you to zoom in and out, as well as rotate the camera, directing Sasha to directly where you want her to go can be difficult. If Fatshark were to implement a free-camera mode for searching for items with Sasha in a later patch, this would go a long way to solving this grievance. Other than that, the controls are simple and intuitive, guiding Sasha by using the right mouse-button, with Hamilton controlled by the WASD, and special abilities controlled by various keys, the controls are a simple and the otherwise intuitive control scheme is ruined only by poor camera control.
Hamilton’s Great Adventure is a fun, enjoyable game, but several bugs, such as poor camera control and the occasional crash to desktop, blight the experience slightly. However, with its vast number of levels, with the promise of more coming as free downloads, enjoyable gameplay and engaging, if not particularly original, storyline, you will keep coming back. The game just needs a patch or two to make it anything more than a good adventure.
Stunning graphics and catchy music in a challenging yet forgiving game with the prospect of more levels coming as free downloadable content. Replayability for the Steam Achievements
Awkward camera, Bugs, No XP support is still risky.