by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Out of my comfort zone
I have been getting back into the old school point-and-click adventures recently since the return of a couple of my past favourites – Tales of Monkey Island and Sam and Max. Both have been episodic releases with a humorous setting and storyline. So when we were sent a copy of Outcry, I was more than a little curious to play a point-and-click adventure with a more dramatic story. And Outcry undoubtedly has that.
The seriousness is more than evident the moment the game loads up. The art style and the eerie musical background certainly make it clear that this game is not going to make you laugh out loud, as was the case with Sam and Max or Tales of Monkey Island. Indeed, Outcry is much more in the Myst-style of graphical adventure game with darker undertones.
Oozing with atmosphere
The game begins with old-style cinema grainy video footage intro detailing the back story. Your character is a writer who has been sent a letter from his brother, a professor at a school informing him of a great discovery he has made. You arrive at his apartment building to find it in disarray and with no trace of him. It appears as though he had been experimenting with some of his theories and had become less focussed on his work as a lecturer as he continued his mysterious work. There is some strange device set up in the main room, which certainly seems to have something to do with his experiments. It is then up to you to figure out what happened to your brother.
Finding out what has happened initially involves searching throughout his apartment for clues on what the good professor was working on. Many of the clues include diary notes from your brother as well as journals on botany and archaeological digs – not the most interesting topics, but are required reading to solve the puzzles. And, indeed, reading is what you’ll be doing a lot of in Outcry in order to solve the linear puzzles.
Something strange, in your neighbourhood
But despite the numerous reading required, the story follows along an expected path for most of the first half of the game. But then for some reason takes some strange twists and you’ll be left in a location that doesn’t seem to fit in with the preceding storyline and it is from there that the story just sort of tapers off.
Despite the strange story twists, the game does continue to keep you on the edge of your seat. The eerie background music combined with the grainy video style art and the subject matter gives you the feeling that something could just pop out at you at any time. The fact that you see (or think you see) ghostly apparitions from time to time further enhance the atmosphere of the game. For some reason the game reminded me of Bioshock, but without the splicers, big daddies or little sisters. Maybe it was just the way Outcry uses diary notes in your search for your brother in much the same way as Bioshock uses radio messages in your search for Atlas for much of the early game.
Audio is brilliant and combined with the artistic visuals, work extremely well in setting the tone of the story.
Storyline and puzzles become strange and contrived towards the end of the game.