September 19, 2011

The Next BIG Thing. A 2D Adventure That Falls Flat.

The Next BIG Thing stands out among other few point-and-click adventure games that are still being made by being absolutely gorgeous! Namely, this game features full high def 2D art of amazing quality. I've never seen an adventure featuring that amount of detail and crispness in it's art. Oh, and by adventure I don't mean those mindless action games which are labeled "adventure" nowadays, I'm referring to the point-and-click ones, obviously.

I couldn't be more excited when I first launched the game and saw all its beauty before my eyes. That excitement couldn't have survived for long though. Despite being a total eye-candy, this sequel to the Hollywood Monsters fails to offer anything else of value. The game starts rather tediously and, to my biggest surprise and disappointment, fails to become even remotely captivating. The story is told unevenly with characters just jumping between the six chapters. There's no fluid connection between those chapters and most of the time it feels like you are transported to a totally different story every time you reach the new chapter. The whole plot is so plain unoriginal, it just hurts to see it "unfolding". In and out, there's not a hint of excitement in the adventure Pendulo Studios conjured.

There isn't any satisfaction coming from the puzzles either. Most of the puzzles consist of finding an object or two and, well, using them. Seeing that every new chapter takes you to a totally new location, the amount of explorable screens is always kept to a minimum. Finding anything is a matter of a few minutes. Realizing what to use the newly found objects on is even easier - there aren't really that much hot spots available either, most of the them are story related. There are a few dialogue puzzles which require you to use one of the dialogue options in order to move on. Hardly even a puzzle as you don't have to go through a branched dialogue tree in order to find the right thing to say, usually the important line is available from the start of the dialogue. Way too simple.

I wouldn't lie saying the game didn't provide me with a (very) few laughs. I did find myself giggling from time to time. Still, most of the dialogues are plain weird, not in a good way either. I had a constant feeling that the game lost a lot of sense in translation. On one hand, the sentences are constructed correctly, on the other - it feels like they just don't sound right.

Overall, the whole game felt like a drag. It wasn't that long of a drag though. The Next BIG Thing is ridiculously short and easy. I've played on "high" difficulty level (this one doesn't have hotspots and help available) and never got stuck. Considering the amount of activity each chapter has to offer, I don't see how anyone can have any problems with the game. All the objects which are not in your face can be easily found with a couple of mouse swipes. Sadly, I can't tell how much time exactly I spent on the whole affair (I could have finished it in one sitting but was getting bored with it fast) as my Steam counter got screwed when the game failed to quit properly, continuing to run almost the whole day and night in the background. The timer kept on ticking. Now Steam is sure I've played the game for 30 hours. Ridiculous.

I feel like I wasted my time and money on the game. The art alone doesn't do much for this game as it has absolutely no substance. I had much more fun reading the game reviews - they are overall positive. Quite a few reviewers mention that the game offers a good story. Common, really? In comparison to a shallow plot of Gears of War it might appear somewhat interesting. Otherwise, the story in The Next BIG Thing is the most unoriginal stories I've heard in a very long time. It could have been written in an evening, too. There isn't even much happening there. Even more surprising is that a decent amount of reviewers agreed that the game is a good challenge. It appears the console generation is brain-dead beyond any hope for recovery. I would really like to stand behind a person who finds this game challenging and see him play the game, find out what exactly is he doing and how. I really would love to do that.

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