A New Beginning Preview

'Locked self in toilet' moments are the worst

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.

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  1. Lee says:

    You’re a brave man venturing outside your comfort zone, the game sounds cool and so does the story. Hopefully it won’t get to messy with the time travel thing drives me mad when films and game over complicate stuff like that. Gotta say I love that picture of the opera house too.

  2. Richie rich says:

    HA!! The game looks like an episode of Archer.


  3. UselessJack says:

    The game is out in germany for quite a while now and I was holding it in my hands, undecided if it was worth my money. But now that I know more about it I guess I’ll give it a shot soon :)

  4. Edward Edward says:

    It looks so pretty and I’m glad you enjoyed it :)
    Will that mean we’ll see you tackling more point and click games in future, Pix?

    Also, the rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle made perfect sense!

  5. Adam says:

    That is one sexy moustache he has :)

    Seems like a really odd concept for a plot when the screenshots all point to a game that isn’t quite so surreal. Looking forward to reading the review and how you got along with it

  6. Lorna Lorna says:

    I think it’s great that you stepped out of your comfort zone and gave games like this a shot – there are some fantastic titles in this genre coming up and this one looks gorgeous. The same devs also did the hand-drawn piece of loveliness that is Edna and Harvey, so no surprise that it looks good. (E&H also had a nifty Monkey Island-esque nod to A New Beginning in it).

    It looks lovely and I like the time travel/environmental plot line – quite different for this genre I think. Well covered, I look forward to getting stuck into this one :)

  7. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I’d have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for you pesky kids!! The guy in the screenies is very Scooby Doo, eh? I’m a sucker for time travel stuff though, especially when it’s the old “change the past to fix the future” plot line, as it has so much scope for branching off… AND… I’ve started to play more on the laptop recently, so this appeals to me even more now than it would have before.

    It’s on the list. I think I’ll have to stick it in to alphabetical order now as it’s getting a bit out of hand!

  8. [...] few months ago, Iain provided us with an advanced look at Daedalic Entertainment’s stunningly beautiful new graphic adventure, A New Beginning. In [...]

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