It's an old custom that worlds should die in a spectacular fashion, and this time it's the turn for solar flare to destroy all life on the planet. Of course, there are people who want to stop that from happening and they go for the obvious solution: traveling back in time to convince people they should save their ecosystem and invest in renewable energy sources.
What does all this renewable energies thing have to do with the apocalypse scenario? A big part of the plot revolves around some algae which can generate high amounts of H2, and so the big big Phoenix plan of the future people is about going back in time to tell people nuclear power is dangerous and such algae are wonderful. Sadly, things go wrong, they miss the target and end in an even worse post-apocalyptic time. But two of the survivors manage to get things running and this time they arrive in our time. These survivors are Fay, the main character, and Salvador, an important support character, who is part-time tough survivalist, part-time militaristic murderer and full-time creepy asshole.
At this point here comes the old scientist, Doctor Svensson, who had to give up his life-long research because, being a workaholic, it destroyed his personal life. Imagine it, living in an old hut next to a lake, your biggest problem being your psychiatrist and her silly counsels until suddenly a weird girl comes babbling about time travel.
Still she is sure that, somehow, she will manage to convince the old man that his research is really important to save the world, so important that he has to go back to the marine investigation platform to save his research. Of course, said attempts to convince include an impressive showcase of how in the near future the mother nature will unleash her fury, starring tornadoes, floods and even volcanoes, giving the feeling that all this biosphere degradation thing is just for flavoring. Even more when you find out this all started due to an impressive nuclear explosion in the middle of the Amazon forest.
It's like you are telling a scientist to keep working on his cancer cure, otherwise there would be a spontaneous combustions epidemy. But after all, I suppose this has to be expected from a game which sells itself as “a cinematic adventure-thriller done graphic novel-style”.
To put it on laymen's terms, they mean this is a graphical adventure, with some comic panels for cutscenes (likeor Noctropolis), some voice acting (and I mean some voice acting) tagging along the usual interface. This comic style is nice, all the characters and rooms are well drawn, and very well animated. Even though I'm not completely convinced about the american cartoon style it concretely uses. Sometimes the expressions look too exaggerated, and the characters are in an awkward middle point between cartoony and realistic (look at Fay and her forward-combed backbone), but nobody can deny it is, by far, the game's strongest point.
Voice acting on the other hand is nothing to write home about. You know when they decide that a film has to have a beautiful main actress, no matter if she is able to act or not? Well, this feels the same, just that this time the main character is a drawing. So you could say they have spent all their money on drawing a beautiful main character, and forgot about paying the voice actress.
Seriously, sometimes it changes the meaning of what they are saying completely. There was a point where I actually thought Fay was going to reveal herself as some kind of murdering saboteur, when really she was just making a self-destructive comment. But in the middle of a life or death situation, where all your hopes are being destroyed, it's not the same breaking apart and losing faith in your efforts than saying, like a robot, that you did all this.
Balancing things a bit, I would say the interface offers what is to be expected in an easy to handle and understand way. Only notable thing is that you can press space to show all the interaction points, making pixel hunting, or even just looking around aimlessly for something to check, a problem of the past. On the other hand, it makes the puzzles even more simple. Not that they are easy, at least not all of them. And I mean easy in the sense of sensible and following real world logic, because applying game logic solves most of them. Sometimes I got surprised not only because the solution of the puzzle was silly, but for understanding such a weird logic.
One of the examples is the stamp puzzle. The medic is behind a curtain checking Fay, but he forgot to put the stamp on Svensson's medical report. You could go and ask the medic to finish the bureaucratic work, but as that is for pussies you go on your own to solve the problem. It would be really easy if the ink for the stamp had not dried. And again, real men don't try to get new ink, they steal a blood sample and use it instead of the ink. Just like real life. Just I don't know whose real life.
And that's not the only puzzle which bids farewell to the realms of logic. Having to break a microwave oven because its existence stops an antenna from working still confuses me. This is clearly a part of the game they could have put more effort into, trying to make the puzzles harder. But I think they aimed more to sell the plot, which, after all, that's where they get the thriller and adventure parts.
Have I commented that there is a sort of bad guy in the game? Indez, CEO of an energy company. He has built a huge nuclear central in the middle of the Amazon forest, which is also his head office, and includes his own private army. They comment something about this being a plan to give cheap energy to all South America, but looks more like the fortress of some James Bond villain.
Add to it his plan to destroy the algae just because maybe there is a small possibility of it being able, with luck, and I mean lots of luck, to compete against him. So he has two options, buying or destroying the research, and obviously goes for both, the most spectacular way possible.
This goes along with a recurring theme of attempting to make a Hollywood film, characters should be bigger than life, things should happen non-stop and you must get some revealing twists to keep you tight on your chair. The easy puzzles would fit in this, because otherwise you would stop to think and see how the details on the plot do not work, even if the general idea does.
I won't comment on those due to spoilers, instead I'll talk about what's a curious thing in the story. You know, on cinema there are basically two kind of sciences, that of adventures, where things have to be flashy, and that of thrillers, where science has to work or suspense will break.
Fay and her future magic would be the first kind of science, while Svenson, with a closer to reality approach, would be the second. There is one part at the beginning which presents all this, when Fay explains Svensson she had to swap some laser filter to change it from red to blue, so it would get stronger. Svensson, knowing a bit about these things, comments that the modification would actually make the laser weaker, but she answers something like “Oh, well, what would I know” and keeps going with the tale.
That represents a recurring theme on the game, Fay will come always with the adventure and action-girl solutions, which will go against the vision of the world you get when playing as Svensson. Using a VHS cassette taken from a museum for getting “correctly dated atoms” would make no sense with a guy who uses science in the pursuit of truth, not to survive strange perils.
After all this I'm still unsure what to say about this game. Maybe I could sum it up saying it could have been done better. It has some nice ideas, and allows itself to be easily played, even thought this comfortable design may go against it.
Perhaps just saying that I played it until the end, and only got frustrated with the binoculars puzzle (I still think it makes no sense), which you can actually skip, tells something good about it. The main characters are likable, Fay and her immature idealism tagged along Svensson cynical view of life take most of the game.
So, true, this is not a marvel, but a game doesn't need to be perfect to be fun, does it? And no matter the end result, this is a laudable attempt at reviving an old genre, much better than many other adventure games which have been done in the latest years.