Runaway: A Road Adventure review
The point and click style of adventure game is a dying genre in this age of the first person shooter, the flight combat simulator, and many other fast paced digital creations that blaze forward ahead of this more slow paced genre. However for fans of this once populous form of gaming there are a few worthy examples to be had and one of these is Runaway: A Road Adventure developed by Pendulo Studios and produced by Tri Synergy. The game will take you to many odd and extraordinary places where you will encounter characters who range from the larger then life(the millionaire computer software magnate who bought an old Wild West ghost town to live in) to the bizarre(the stranded group of transvestite musicians) to the sinister(the two Mafia hitman who are your chief opponents) while you are basking in the feel of the old style point and click interface that has been giving a fresh new look with it’s colorful cell shaded graphics. So, without further ado, here is Runaway: A Road Adventure.
The college road trip is an icon of American culture: there have been limitless numbers of TV shows, movies, and books that have all started out with people leaping into a car to find whatever awaits them on the road. Young Brian Basco, the bespectacled hero of Runaway: A Road Adventure is no different from this group of road wanders except he knows where is going: he’s traveling to Berkley to join the Applied Psychics Department. It’s the chance of a lifetime for Brian and he’s all ready to go but decides on a spur of the moment to pick up a book being held for him at an all night bookstore. Apparently this is the time fate chooses to intervene fro as Brian drives down the street a young woman runs out of an alley and right into the path of his car. Brian, gallant that he is, abandons his book buying activities and takes her to the hospital where she relates the tail of how she was running from a couple of goons who work for the mob family who rubbed out her father and were trying to kill her too when she hit Brian’s car. Brian, at first, is perfectly willing to leave this attractive, distressed, injured-by-his-bumper woman but once the mob tries to put a hit on her he decides to stay with her until all this is sorted out. Let the adventure begin.
The game is organized using the tried and true point and click interface where you can click on the room to move Brian toward one particular point on the screen, click on characters and objects to talk with them, examine them, or pick them up depending on what they are or who they are. You can’t pick up other characters with your massive Hulk strength, everyone, sorry. What you can do, though, and what adds an interesting touch is the way the inventory screen works. As with many games of this kind your items are conveniently stored in one particular item-in this case a brown paper bag with magical storage properties-but what you can also do with these games is combine them to make new items via a particular part of the inventory screen. You drag and drop the items you want to combine on top of each other and Brian will duck out of sight and there will be sounds to things being put on top of other things and poof you will have you very own wig wearing dummy. If the combination doesn’t make sense Brian will come back up and tell you that your thinking is flawed Brian will reappear and tell you so. Thanks for the honesty, Brian.
The graphics are cell shades of respectable quality but it may cause complaints among gamers more used to proper physical proportions because while the characters are well designed in some cases the designers play somewhat loose with physical proportions, such as a curiously underslung jaw but despite this slight cartoonish look that manifests itself from time to time the design of the characters is above reproof. To be honest even when it looks deliberately cartoonish and implausible it doesn’t matter because what is happening at the time is so comedically outlandish that any comments the player might have about what is happening would dissolve in peals of laughter. Take for instance the scene you will encounter of a hulking Marine turned singing transvestite decked out in combat fatigues and camouflage paint topped by a large orange wig what you say? If it looks absurd it’s made to look absurd: worry ye not. The downside to the pre rendered environments is that it’s not always easy to discern items you need from the clutter in the background often requiring a lot of pixel hunting. It’s a definite downside
The audio has also been well done as it has been backed up by a solid voice cast that alternates between the thuggish tones of the Mafia hitmen to the coquettish manner of speech belonging to Gina. The music is not anything that will cause you to swoon: an opening theme backed up by the use muted background music that adds to the atmosphere of what is going on at the moment but is nothing to write back home. The sounds are much like the rest of the game: solid and colorful without being overly flashy. The lack of innovation in the game overall may not be appealing but just because there is little new, apart from the advance in graphics and development technology that time has brought to the genre, doesn’t make it a bad thing.