Minty goes adventuring with “acquisitions expert” Michael Bezzle
Being part of a multi episodic series, Hoodwink is a relatively short point and click game(you can finish it in a couple of hours) but there’s enough in those two short ours to draw you into their dystopian world and leave you wanting more by the time you finish. It’s the sort of world run by mega corporation UniCorp, with their megalomaniacal tendencies they keep the citizens down and make them believe they are doing everything for their own good, including shooting them through the head! They even have that strong confident sales voice that you hear all the time on adverts, which makes you believe them too. Even when putting my product key in I was greeted with a screen telling me how great UniCorp is!
Story and Presentation
Enter Michael Bezzle, the lovable rogue who will be your guide through the garbage and refuse that inhabit the slums of Kong-Yan. His goal of simply proposing to his fiancé may sound an easy task but he must contend with a strange array of characters who either help him or hinder him in his progress. There is Saffron, the hippy woman who creates all her own clothes, medicines, chocolates, you name it, anything so that she doesn’t have to buy any of UniCorp’s products, her way of “sticking it to the man”
There is an actual cat who is a detective and has taken exception to Michael for snooping around his business (including his litterbox) and is out to get him. Then you have the Second-Chancers, who apparently were citizens who have died and had their brains stuck inside a robot to allow them to continue living, some don’t even realise they are robots, all courtesy of UniCorp of course. There are a few other weird and wonderful creatures and rat bags (almost literally) that you will meet during the game, it all ads up to create a believable world and you find yourself waiting to see what oddball you will bump into next.
The game is detailed in the portrayal of the slums in with you dwell, areas are darkly lit with some places being underground without any natural light coming in, housing is squashed together, bins and rubbish are left lying in places, big industrial pipes strewn through the place and big industrial lifts to get you from one place to another, and the local cuisine consist of rats on buns, its not the sort of place you’d want to live, but it’s always fun watching someone else live in it.
The story is split into 4 acts, again, each one being relatively short and the whole episode will take about 2 hours. There is no save option during the game, it will only save at the end of each chapter, which caused me to run into a few problems. On my system the game would very occasionally crash when either loading a new screen or saving after the chapter is over, unfortunately the crash would happen before the save, which meant I’d have to do the whole chapter again, not too big a problem as it was short anyway, but a feature to save the game anywhere you want would be great.
There are also random people, all down on their luck, slumming around sitting outside the burger rat joint and robots who hang around slagging humans off, which adds to the detail of the world and gives you some insight into how it all works.
The NPCs have conversations with each other which you hear as you walk past them, which is good to listen into, but after you’ve heard a couple of conversations they all start repeating each other and it gets a bit samey, I suppose it’s not so much a problem as the game is only short and you’re not likely to cross them too many times.
The graphics and art style in Hoodwink are very nice. It’s a cell shaded game which gives it a nice cartoony look, but it also manages to be dark and gloomy in places and gives you that feeling of a bleak dystopian future. Each of the characters are nicely drawn with their own unique styles, Saffron and her shop are awash with bright colours, while Michael has a plethora of belt buckles around his trousers and the biggest sleeves I’ve ever seen
You got some big rotating neon signs which tell you about some places, like the Phonebooth or the welcome sign to the town, which are always a nice touch in worlds like this, can’t get enough neon signs!
I did come across a couple of graphical problems though. On a couple of camera viewpoints, one NPC was quite happily sitting down minding his own business when he consistently flickered in and out of existence, after changing camera angle he was fine and stayed where he was.
The game tended to run slow on my system, now I’ve got the minimum and recommended requirements posted at the bottom of this review, my system meets these requirements, but once I got to the concourse in the game the FPS dropped from 44 to 15, some parts it hovered around 22. It not a very graphical intense game and I can run better looking games smoother, so it makes me think there’s still some performance tweaking to do. It doesn’t ruin the experience of the game, however, as it’s not an action game and doesn’t require fast reflexes, so it’s forgivable.
The sound and music of the game is really well done. There is ambient music which plays throughout the game and you get more dynamic music playing in the cut scenes when there is a bit of action. The sound track is in the style of Jazz, the kind of music you would hear in a film when someone goes to a bar to drown his sorrows and forget his miserable life, it ranges from Film Noir kind of affair to more subtle, sneaking around and investigating music, listen to the Pink Panther theme and you will get the idea.
The voice acting is good too, from all the characters, but I find Michael the best, you can hear him getting worried, or annoyed or sarcastic in places, probably because you hear him most of all but he’s probably the best. Then you have one of the robots which is an eccentric dead gay German who had me laughing out loud when he was complaining about starving (he doesn’t know he’s a robot and still wants to eat)
As mentioned earlier you get the NPCs talking too which add a nice touch to the overall feel of the game and makes it feel like you are in a living breathing world, although personally I feel it would be better if they did have a few more lines to speak between them as they don’t repeat what they say (one person will have the same lines as another person on a different screen)
Even the bins talk in this game!
Hoodwink plays mostly as you would expect from a point and click adventure, sometimes its easier, sometimes its more difficult. An example of the more difficult part is when you are walking. You can’t just point anywhere and walk there, the walk icon has to show up before you can walk to a place (or the change camera icon which causes Michael to walk to that spot for a different view) A couple of times this was a bit awkward for me, finding where on the screen the legs icon will appear, it’s mostly at the bottom but sometime it doesn’t show in places you would expect, it would be easier if he would move to places just by clicking anywhere on the floor, but there seems to be an invisible set path to follow and you have to find it and click it with the mouse, it’s not a major problem but can be a little frustrating at times.
An example of it being easier is when you have an item in your inventory and it can be used on a certain object it will show up when you hover your mouse over that object, then all you have to do is click it to say you want to use it. It’s a lot easier than older P&C games where you would have to use every item on something to see what worked and what didn’t work, this method is far easier and keeps the game flowing as it’s hard to get stuck. There aren’t too many items in the game either so you don’t get bogged down with all sorts of stuff and not knowing what to do with it, most of the time when you find an item you can use it there and then and then it gets discarded.
The puzzles themselves aren’t too difficult, as said before some items are found close to where they need to be used anyway, again it stops you getting stuck and wandering around for ages trying to find out what goes where, I don’t know about you but even though I enjoy playing P&C games it can often be difficult to think what the designer had in mind when thinking up some puzzles, which may or may not make any sense to you, so it can get frustrating, that hasn’t happened in Hoodwink. Though there was one puzzle I finished and it still doesn’t make sense to me now, but there you go.
There are a couple of annoying features regarding the gameplay. The first one being that you can’t skip a cut scene nor can you skip any dialogue, which can get annoying really fast as it’s one thing that annoys me in game, never being able to skip anything like that (and not being able to skip company logos when the games are loading but that’s another company entirely) Seeing how you may speak to the same character several times just to see if they got something new to say it would be nice to be able to skip the dialogue that you’ve already heard, or, if, like me, the game crashes and you’ve got to go through it again, you want to skip everything you already know.
The game involves a few mini games, usually when you need to collect something. The first time I came across it I didn’t know what to do as there was no explanation or obvious thing I had to do, but after some poking and prodding with the mouse and trial & error I was able to collect these things and move on.
On the next playthrough I realised my mistake and if you click on the handy head of Michael at the bottom left of the screen it will give you instructions on how to play the minigame. I knew this head was there from the beginning of the game as it gives you instructions on how to play, I just did not know that the instructions changed during minigames to explain how to play them oops!
One other slight problem is that the game does not pause, pressing esc will bring up a menu for you but the game continues in the background, again not a huge problem, but an annoying niggle as you could be in the middle of something wanting to pause it then having to do it again.
The game, however, is fun to play, as it’s a funny game with lots of humour you will come across some funny scenarios and weird goings on, such as having an argument with a bin and getting frustrated while trying to convince a robot that he can’t eat chocolate.
About 2 hours. Once you’ve done it there isn’t much reason to go back as I didn’t get the feeling that I had missed out on anything.. It is however a funny game with many comical moments that you may want to play again.
Games without humour usually don’t last too long with me, I like a game that is fun, funny, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Hoodwink is one of those games,.
Hoodwink is a point and click adventure for anyone who likes to laugh while playing a game.
The main character is a likable mischievous chap who seems to land himself into trouble, not always through faults of his own., and the rest of the cast can be funny with their own quirky sense of humour. E-One Studio have built and intriguing bleak world with a weird and colourful populace that’s not without it’s faults, However it’s a fun and enjoyable game and I am looking forward to seeing where the next part takes me.
MINIMUM System Requirements: OS: Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP1, Windows 7 SP1 CPU: 1 GHz Intel or equivalent AMD CPU RAM: At least 2 GB 2GB RAM for Window XP / 3 GB RAM for Windows Vista and Windows 7 HARD DRIVE: At least 4 GB of free space VIDEO: nVidia 9XXX GT / 512 VRAM or ATI equivalent or better Shader Model 3.0 compatible card or better INPUT: Keyboard & mouse
RECOMMENDED System requirements: OS: Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP1, Windows 7 SP1 CPU: 3.0 GHz 2nd Generation Intel Core™ i5 processor (or greater), or AMD equivalent RAM: At least 4 GB Windows 7 64-bit HARD DRIVE: At least 4GB of free space VIDEO: nVidia GTX 460 / 1024 VRAM or ATI equivalent or better Shader Model 4.0 compatible card INPUT: Keyboard & mouse
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