Culpa Innata Review
By Corey Stoneburner |
This review of Culpa Innata would have been done earlier, but I was bashing my head against a wall after having to gossip with the same inane character at the same caf about the idiotic conversations I just took part in two minutes before for the thousandth time. The adventure genre has had plenty of ups and downs in recent years and Culpa Innata, while offering up some non-linearity that in concept should help propel the point and click genre, just isn't anywhere good enough to make the positive impact that it could have had on the suffering genre.
While the concept of this future Earth itself may have a future history that's not unbelievable, the writer went off the charts trying to force half-baked philosophy down our throats. At the beginning of the story you find out that the first murder in 15 years has been committed. The society proposed in this game is highly implausible if not totally impossible, based on economic greed and selfishness. Those two ideas by themselves are responsible for more deaths than we'd be able to tally throughout the rest of history. This society, no matter how closely monitored they are by big brother or brainwashed by their educations, would be rife with jealousy and rage killings. This flawed idea is only shoved harder down the stairs by the notion that this World Union is comprised of at near 75% of the world's population. I don't care how controlled they are, what kind of education their given, or what sorts of drugs they're on, people just don't work that way. Capital crime is going to happen as long as humans are human.
If it wasn't the highly flawed premise the game provides, most of the dialogue would be bad enough to want jab ice picks in your ears to avoid any chance of further mental damage. While Culpa Innata starts out on a shaky note, it's also easy to maintain some hope that the game will right itself and at least provide a decent sleuth adventure. Instead, it turns into one drawn out, painful conversation after another driven by a pathetic investigative officer that seems more interested in the sexual habits of each character than of the actual investigation. These conversations are long, slow, and often completely unrelated to the case. True, some of that nonsense derives from the non-linearity of the questions asked so if you choose to talk about idiotic things you'll hear idiotic responses. The problem is that half the time the only questions you have to ask are idiotic questions in the first place. Much of the types of questions asked leave no indication about how you're trying to direct the path of the conversation or the attitude you're hoping to bring. At the beginning of the game, you're able to approach some conversations seriously or personably, but those options quickly seem to completely disappear and you're left floating in the breeze trying to decide whether you're about to completely waste your time or not.
The one impressive thing about all of the dialogue is that it's all voiced. That's a lot of voice work. It's too bad that saying the voice acting is weak is merely being polite. Many of the voices are so terrible, especially those trying to pull of accents (the only indication which accents they're trying to pull off is given by their ethnic background or names), and the lines read so poorly (awkward pauses and tripping over words and lines are frequent), that you'll wish you were reading instead of listening. The fact that you can't skip through individual lines of dialogue and can only skip the entire string of dialogue, is frustrating since you're forced to listen to the vocal tragedy unfold one conversation at a time or risk missing some small bit of info you need.
The actual written dialogue makes these people seem even less real. They don't use conjunctions. There's very little slang. Aside from a couple of notable exceptions, there's just no flair or personality to the characters that are there are merely annoying rather than interesting. The poor writing is only exacerbated by those bad voice actors.
Then there's the main character Phoenix. I know that she's been brainwashed into this society by her education program (the children here aren't raised by parents, but by education professionals) but the level of naivet demonstrated by Phoenix is infuriating. She's whiny, easily offended, and quite often horrendously stupid while constantly talking down her nose at those younger than her (I'm talking to you, young lady!) and blabbering ineffectually about her rights and duties as a peace officer. For an investigator that's supposed to sit back, filter information, and analyze the answers to her questions, she's downright judgmental and stubborn enough to ignore perfectly good questioning avenues presented by responses. Not only that, while the information about the case is confidential, especially that it's a murder, she's constantly going around blabbing about every little detail in the case to every freaking person she runs into. It's amazing that the entire World Union doesn't know about it by word of mouth.