Simon the Sorcerer: Who'd Even Want Contact?! Review
By Jimmy Goldstein |
Although point-and-click adventure games are not as prominent as they once were in the gaming industry, they seem to be making a bit of a comeback. The classic Monkey Island series is being re-mastered, Sam & Max is available on almost every platform and indie effort Machinarium is garnering critical acclaim. So when I discovered that Simon the Sorcerer (a title I played in my youth) had a "fifth-quel" coming out, I jumped at the chance to see how the experience has evolved.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Simon the Sorcerer follows the story of a teenager who stumbles upon a magical world and, of course, has to help good triumph over evil. Although it's been a while since I played, I remember loving the original game's humor, cynical hero and clever spoofs on fairy tales like the Three Billy Goats Gruff and classic literature like The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings.
The gameplay stays true to past adventure games-- you can look around for useful things, pick up certain objects, combine items in your inventory and, of course, chat up a storm with other characters. While navigating Simon through the world you'll attempt to solve puzzles with the items you find along the way.
Who'd Event Want Contact? follows the premise of an alien invasion of the magical world Simon inhabits. Not only do the aliens take over, but they also abduct his girlfriend, Alix. It sounds trite, but that's sort of the point. Over the years, the magician has retained his snarky nature, Swampling is still making his horrific swamp soup and there are still parodies aplenty. The new space theme means that this time around you should expect Star Wars references alongside the standard fairy tales.
The alien says, "Ohai there!"
In general, the puzzles aren't very difficult, but I did get stuck at a couple parts in the story. If you're looking for more of a challenge, you might want to give something like Machinarium a try. At a few parts of the story you can choose how you want to solve puzzles, i.e. you can make Simon be nice, or let him be a complete jerk. Although these options are offered as an incentive to replay the game, when I finished I didn't feel any urge to see the various outcomes. Completing the story unlocks "alien outtakes," which is a fun bonus.
The first thing you'll notice when you start the game is how cringe-worthy the voice acting is, but thankfully you can turn off the voices and switch to subtitles. However, you will want to suffer through the terrible voices near the beginning because of one specific moment, which I won't ruin for you. Overall though, the game is much more enjoyable without the voices.
I will admit that I have a superficial beef with Simon the Sorcerer 5 -- the graphics. The backdrops prove that this game could've been really beautiful, but the 3D character models seem awkward and ugly set against them. If the characters were designed in the same way the backgrounds were, this would be a good looking game.