Emerald City Confidential
Point and click adventure games will never die, thanks in part to the efforts of Wadjet Eye Games, creator of the Blackwell series, The Shivah, and now, Emerald City Confidential. In the studio's latest title you are cast in the role of Petra, a young private eye trying to make a living in the strange Wizard of Oz-inspired world known as Emerald City. The hand drawn artwork is utterly captivating, the storytelling and writing top-notch, and the game itself is a package you won't be able to tear yourself away from.
As with most detective-based games, Emerald City Confidential starts out innocently enough with a client barging into the PI's office with a desperate plea. In this case we have Dee Gale, a well-off woman seeking her missing fiance who, even though he "travels" quite often, hasn't been seen for days. With little else demanding her attention (except for an arch nemesis in the form of a suit-wearing lion), Petra hops on the case, accepts the cash advance, and begins her investigation.
Traveling around this magical 1940s film noir land is a simple affair. Each location is filled with objects to examine and people to talk to. Use the mouse to navigate dialogue trees, initiate conversations, grab items and use inventory objects. Simple enough. As you travel throughout Emerald City and the lands beyond, you'll gradually uncover pieces of Petra's history and learn a lot about the harsh streets from various creative/shady characters. Talking dogs and robotic sentries, anyone?
Analysis: The artwork and story are what make this game truly shine, and the depth of which both burrow is impressive. Every location, every character, and every relationship in the game is steeped in mystery. Beyond the game's well-integrated puzzles, you'll also have to put together bits of story lines to make everything fit, a sort of meta-puzzle that takes place outside of the confines of the game.
The backdrops in the game (of which there are over 40, each one drawn by hand) are nothing short of gorgeous, and the amount of imagination put into every nook and cranny of the game is breathtaking. Emerald City Confidential paints a complete world from many levels, creating a surprisingly immersive experience for an old-school adventure game.
One pitfall Emerald City Confidential avoids is packing the world with too many things to investigate and areas to explore. It suffers a tiny bit in that the adventure is more linear, but the storytelling and character designs are so interesting, you honestly won't mind. In fact, if the puzzles were more intricate, I feel they would detract from the plot too much, which is one area this game really shines.
Beautiful, intriguing, well-thought-out, and put together so perfectly you'd swear it fell off the awesome tree, Emerald City Confidential is a stunning adventure game anyone — even non-adventure fans — can really get into.