by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
Brainteasers or Roadblocks?
If the story and its characters are the bread of the point-and-click adventure, then the puzzles must be the delicious jam spread masterfully on top of it. In The Next BIG Thing, however, the jam appears to be quite lumpy at times. Some of the puzzles are smart to the point of forcing the player to think so far out of the box that the box becomes a mere speck in the vast multi-verse of his imagination. Others, on the other hand, have the potential for greatness but lack the effort. One puzzle in particular caused me to cringe in disappointment.
It lays in front of you a set of 6 Egyptian hieroglyphs and asks you questions about Egyptian syntax. This would have been a great opportunity for the developers to break the fourth wall by forcing the player to Google information on ancient Egyptian syntax, or include some way for the player to get that information in-game. The solution to the problem, however, turned out to be disappointingly infantile. Many of the puzzles at the start of the game are very obvious and easy, but as the game progresses, the trials get harder, providing more of a challenge for experienced adventure gamers. It is a great way to give long-term fans what they want while leaving room for newcomers to dip their toes in the pond before wading in.
As far as artistic style goes, the game hits the target straight on the bulls-eye, and the voice acting splits that projectile right down the middle, Robin Hood style. Most of the surroundings are hand-drawn, while the characters are cell-shaded 3D models. This is done so seamlessly that the characters blend into the environments as if they belong there, which is exactly what you want them to do when merging two different art styles into one visual representation. The cartoony art style and whacky environments bring this adventure to life and remind the player not to take things too seriously.
Although the voice acting is quite good, the dialogue, regrettably, is not. Characters repeat themselves way too often, have a tendency to bring up the same subjects repeatedly and often have the same responses regardless of who they are talking to. Dan, especially, seems to suffer from a severely small vocabulary. His catchphrase “I bet half my pay-check...” is repeated so many times that clicking it away becomes somewhat of an automatic response to hearing the pretentious “I” emerge from his lips. Considering that each time he says it is a different recording makes me wonder if the localization team couldn’t have grabbed a thesaurus and looked up a few similar statements. “I’d stake my life on it,” “I bet my left nut”, and, if you are a Dickens fan “I will eat my own head!” are a few possibilities.
Colorful, whacky characters and beautiful art style.
Repetitive dialogue and disappointing puzzles.