A New Beginning Preview
Every gamer has a particular style of game that they play more than others, whether it be first person shooters, real time strategies, survival horrors or point & click adventures. Some people remain closely inside their particular genre comfort zone while others may be willing to try something a little different every once in a while. To say point and click games are way out of my comfort zone is an understatement, but after seeing the first few screenshots Daedelic Entertainment’s A New Beginning I knew it was a game I had to play.
The last time I’d played a PC based point and click was back in the good old days of Windows 98 with a demo of The Longest Journey and, outside of the Monkey Island series and the XBLA game Axel & Pixel, I have never even played another P&C game, but A New Beginning’s stunning hand-drawn art style had me drawn in like a moth to a flame.
Before gushing about A New Beginning’s artistic merits too much, it’s probably best that I explain the story a little. Approximately 500 years into the future, climate change has left the Earth a barren, near lifeless place and opened the planet up to deadly solar flares that could wipe out humanity. The world’s top men and women, however, have one last, desperate attempt to stop the entire population of Earth being destroyed. The plan is to send people back to the year 2050, only to find that the planet is already, in short, screwed so a new plan is hatched to send two more ‘time pilots’ even further back to the present day.
After a short animated comic book style intro, you are handed over control of one of the game’s two main characters; Burt Reynolds wannabe, Bent (yes, that is his real name. Daedalic Entertainment is a German company after all). Bent is a workaholic bio-engineer who was working on the creation of a new bio-fuel that would replace Earth’s dependence on fossil fuels before being forced to retire on medical grounds and hand over his research to his son, Duve. One day, while in the middle of fixing a piece of machinery that seems exclusively designed to kill birds by gassing them, Bent is visited by a time pilot by the name of Faye and told that he is the only person who can save the world from extinction – presumably birds aren’t included in this worldwide protection mission. Of course he doesn’t believe her which leads to Fay explaining how she ended up in Bent’s home, through a flashback into the future.
Despite not being a massive point and click player I know that puzzles make up a large part of the gameplay. Finding objects in the environment that need to be combined in odd ways to help you complete your task is a staple part of any p&c game and A New Beginning is no exception. From creating a pulley system out of a harpoon rope and pieces of a crashed car, to making a boat paddle from a dustpan, an iron pole and some rope, A New Beginning’s puzzles aren’t overly taxing and only really require a bit of common sense to figure out – there are no outlandish rubber chickens with pulleys in the middle to be seen anywhere here. As well as the standard ‘find item, combine item, use item’ gameplay, A New Beginning also includes other, smaller puzzles such as having to piece together a boxed up satellite in the correct order. It doesn’t seem to bring anything new to the table, but it does provide a moderate challenge, however A New Beginning really shines when it comes to the music and art direction.
The game’s music is very understated, simple yet totally beautiful and haunting. The gentle strings and simple piano patterns really add a feeling of emptiness and solitude and make a game that’s main plotline is the extinction of our planet feel personal and involving. It’s not about one singular, 2012 style event that wipes us out, it’s a slow burning series of event that every individual has their own part in and the music really conveys that feeling, however the dialogue and voice acting let the audio side down a little. I wouldn’t go as far to say they’re game breaking, as there is a certain charm to the dialogue and the majority of the problems may well have stemmed from the translation from German to English but, nonetheless, the characters never really seem to convey any emotion about anything that’s happened, which is a shame, considering how mesmerising the score is. There’s also the occasional moment when the audio switches from English to German, mid sentence which completely kills any flow, but hopefully this is something that will be ironed out before release.
Now onto my favourite part: the art direction. The entire game has been hand-drawn, from the comic book style cutscenes to the beautiful backdrops and it looks stunning. Looking at the characters, you could be forgiven in thinking that the game is going to be yet another cartoon style title that tries to be quirky and original, but A New Beginning is a much more traditional style of drawing. In fact, some of the backdrops wouldn’t look too out of place in a Hayao Miyazaki movie. Every damp patch, every decaying wall, every broken window; they all look just as stunning as the neon signs, the rolling hillsides and the flooded cities depicted elsewhere in the game. In short, this is easily one of the most beautiful games of the year so far.
With a release date of May 20th 2011, A New Beginning is a gorgeous point and click adventure that should be played by anyone with eyes.
Last five articles by Iain
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- Working Class Hero