Developer: Realmforge Studios
Release Date: 02/27/2009 (Europe)
It’s very hard for me to take other gaming sites seriously. Over the years I’ve found reviews at other sites where the would-be reviewer shows they haven’t played the game at all, or only up to a certain point and they make erroneous statements that people who have completed the game can pick up almost immediately. It makes the pessimist in me come out and I find myself thinking, “Why do these reviewers/sites lie? Are they being paid? Are they hoping their editors won’t catch them? Are they afraid of pissing off the publisher and developers?” It’s part of why I started Diehard GameFAN – because I simply had lost all trust in the other gaming sites out there and I wanted a place where honesty mattered more than a hit count or sucking up to a reader base or publishers supplying freebies.
Well Ceville is one of those games. It is so massively bug ridden than most adventure game websites have threads about the bugs and even theofficial UK and German forums talk about the severe issues plaguing this game, including game stopping crashes, controls not working, and so much more. Yet for some reason…none of the reviews mention any of these bugs and they make Ceville out to be a fun little game with little to no issues. It currently has a 74.55% rating on Gamerankings. Some of these reviews make a passing notion to the problems with this game, yet then give it a high score and fond praise. For a game that barely works? Hell, according to Gameboomers’ forums (Another site that gives the game a huge thumb’s up), the developers have decided to stop responding to all the issues with the game that German gamers are finding.
So what the hell am I, a game reviewer and Editor-in-Chief for Diehard GameFAN, supposed to make of this? Are other sites really filled with reviewers that somehow missed the problems with this game that every other gamer, regardless of country, is discovering? Are these reviewers liars? Are these sites untrustworthy because they are giving erroneous information to their audience? All of us that work in the industry know that IGN is full of crap for example, but what about all these other smaller gaming sites? How is there such a disconnect and how does this huge difference between these reviews, and what the actual gaming public putting down thirty quid (fifty U.S. dollars) for a game experience, affect the trust level of gaming sites? More importantly, what are you the actual paying public supposed to think of all this? I get my review copies for free, but how does a gamer who spends their hard earned money on something like this feel when they read a review that says a game is awesome and then it turns out the truth is that the game isn’t even playable according to most gamers? All I can say is that we here at Diehard GameFAN would never do to our readers what a lot of these sites have done and if I ever encountered this amongst any of my staff, I would fire them instantly. Obviously I am about to rip Ceville a new asshole like it deserves. Although this review is too little too late for those already suckered in by this game, hopefully it will save those of you who have been on the fence.
Ceville is the dastardly tyrant of the kingdom of Faeryanis. He’s an utterly cruel monarch without the slightest bit of kindness to him. One day however a revolt, led by his even more evil seneschal Basilius. With the help of the dim and narcissistic paladin Ambrosius, Ceville is placed in Jail to rot.
Enter Lily, a kind hearted but sass-mouthed little girl who frees Ceville for some reason that is never made clear especially since she’s a good little girl. Together the twosome (along with Ambrosius after he realizes that he has helped the GREATER of two evils) sets out to reclaim Ceville’s kingdom.
Ceville is a comedy adventure game where every character in the game (save Lily) is somewhat insane and is massively exaggerated for the sake of laughs. This is all well and good. I really enjoyed the villain rehabilitation bits. However, the idea of playing as an evil character for laugh value is a bit played out thanks to the Disgaea trilogy. Ceville doesn’t hold a candle to Mao or Laharl in terms of “Evil but funny.” However those are SRPG’s and Ceville is an Adventure game, so the audiences don’t necessarily correlate. As such it has a bit of a Monkey Island feel, although nowhere as good. As well, even if we keep to the anti-hero protagonist theme in adventure games, the five Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People do a better job and you can buy all five for less than this game.
While I chuckled occasionally at Ceville, the big problem is that the game is nowhere as funny as it thinks it is. The comedy routines are generally very weak and fall flat most of the time, relying on ethnic and sexual stereotypes. This isn’t always the case, as the game has a great character in the pirate zombie, but even then the comedy is more playing off what you already know about particular fantasy archetypes than any real character development. Because so many of the characters are so two dimensional, the fact that the NPS will routinely drone the same exactly lines loudly and repeatedly does nothing to help give you the impression that they are fleshed out.
If you’re new to comedy in your video games, Ceville isn’t a bad first choice. However, regardless of your genre preference, you can find better out there, and for a lot cheaper. The tale is not unfunny, but it’s not particularly inventive or clever. Think of Ceville as oh, the video game equivalent of Police Academy IV: Citizens on Patrol
Story Rating: Mediocre
I really liked the bright colourful feel of Ceville. Even though you’re playing as a rather dark (but comical) character, the game has nicely rendered backgrounds and a wide range of areas for your to walk through. It really does look and feel like a proper fairy tale kingdom, which is a plus.
Character designs are rather cute as well. Although none of the characters look lifelike, they’re not supposed to. Everything is grossly exaggerated for comic appeal and it works perfectly. Remember that aforementioned Zombie Pirate? It’s parrot roosts in one of its eye sockets. It was really nice to see such a cartoonish approach in this age of realistic but drab era of gaming. As such, Cevill really stands out.
There are only two real problems I have with the visuals, but they’re rather big ones. First is that the characters are all poorly animated. All of their movements are very jerky and it really takes you out of the game. The other big problem is that I’ve never encountered a game that is so graphics card picky. According to the back of the box all you need is any graphics card that is “Direct-X 9.0c compatible with 128 MB Ram.” Which is to say, nearly ANY graphics card. Recommend is a graphics card with 256 MB. Which again is not that hard to come by and is pretty standard. However, nearly every error reported about this game gets the answer, “Oh, it’s your video card.” Which is a cop out and an outright lie on the developer’s end, but if they want to blame games not installing correctly or huge chunks of gameplay missing from the finished product on graphics, okay then I’ll do that. As such, with the developers blaming every error on graphics card issues and the box having VERY LOW requirement for graphics is a conflicting message and as such, the game generally performs very poorly and with severe slowdown, regardless of how awesome your graphics card is. I have a NVidia GeForce 8400M GS and this game still ran like crap with incredible slowdown visually. Uncool Realmforge. Very uncool.
Graphics Rating: Mediocre
Although the voice acting is the game is amusing the first time you hear each character’s voice, you will hear each voice and their limited range of lines CONSTANTLY. As such, each voice will grate on you until you are yelling at them to shut up. Even worse, without the patch for Ceville those NPC voices will carry on if you are within proximity to them, even when plot important dialogue is going on. What the heck? Talk about awful planning. I have no idea how that one got through quality control, but at least they fixed it.
The music in the game fits the fantasy setting of the game, but nothing of it really stands out. It’s also easily drowned out by the unstoppable NPC chatter, so not only is the score easily forgettable, but it’s hard to hear in the first place.
Some good ideas here and a decent voice acting cast, but bad programming decisions bog this thing down severely to where you will hate most of the characters in the game while you are trying to get the game to play.
Sound Rating: Mediocre
4. Control and Gameplay
To be honest, I have never encountered an adventure game this poorly designed. In trying to install the game, Ceville crashed three times in a row. I thought it was the User Account Control issue that a lot of Adventure games have with Vista. I turned it off and the game finally installed properly. However, in studying the massive amount of errors that plagued others with this game, I learned that I was just lucky this worked. Many people can’t get Ceville installed no matter what. Of course, PC games can’t be returned when opened, nor is there any trade-in value for them at most gaming stores, so those Europeans are royally screwed thanks to this issue that has yet to be addressed.
Then there are the loading times. My god, I have never encountered an Adventure game with such severe loading times. It’s not just when you first load up the game either. It happens with each act of the game. This is insane and considering the game is not graphically intensive, nor is it that striking compared to a lot of other Adventure games, this makes no sense.
Oh, there’s also massive crashing issues. You don’t get an IE warning either that “something is wrong with the game and Windows needs to shut it down. The game just shuts down. One second it is running, the next it has quit on you. This gets even worse if you are trying to do an Alt+ Prnt Scrn to take screen caps like any quality reviewer should. This will cause the game to crash as well. Oy.
Let’s not forget the autosave system. Yes, it’s great that there is an autosave system with all the massive errors and crashing issues that plague this game. However, the autosaves don’t save over each other. Instead it’s a new save file every five minutes. Do you save your game on your own? Get ready to have it lost in the never ending autosave files. I’ve never seen an autosave system this poorly implemented.
Finally, and this is the big one, a large portion of the controls simply don’t work. As many people have reported (except for reviewers oddly enough), there are severe control issues with this game, the main one being that you can move your character properly. Ceville, like most adventure games claims that you move your character(s) by left clicking the mouse button anywhere on the screen. Unfortunately this is not the case. In fact, this NEVER works at any point in the game. So if something you need to get off screen is not there, you are royally screwed. The only way to get around this is to click on an interactive object and hope your character moves close enough to bring up other objects on the side of the screen, pulling you closer and closer to your inevitable goal.
I actually could not get past a certain point in Act One and had to start the entire game over from scratch, losing two hours of gameplay because of this bug. When you are trying to collect items for your fairy godmother disguise (Which is a third of the game), there comes about when you have to go down a hill by the exit of the kingdom. However, the game will only let you proceed to a certain point and then you can go no further. However, down the hill are two vital items you need to proceed. As such, when this error occurs, all you can do is start the game over. By that I mean start a whole new game. Once this error occurs, your saved game is completely corrupts and will never let you access those items. This issue was originally blamed on “graphics card issues.” On the official Ceville forums, until gamers started pointing out this couldn’t possibly be a graphics issue but an engine issue and since then, this particular topic had been ignored by the team. It’s still being brought up in the English written forums though, with only a response of “Send us your save file.” How the hell is that supposed to help?
Because Ceville is practically unplayable there is no way to say anything kind or positive about this game. Simply put, this piece of crap should not have been released to the gaming public considering it is easily the most bug ridden and problem laden Adventure game I have ever had the misfortune to experience. Yes, I realize we are in the era of sloppy development teams who figure they can get by with patching things after they’ve suckered legions of gamers out of their hard earned money, but that’s never going to be a morally or ethically correct way to treat customers. Honestly, I feel bad for Kalypso for agreeing to publish this thing.
Please note that a SECOND patch for Ceville was released on 4/17, which, in the developer’s own words, “…should cut down on some of the crashing issues.” Not the word SOME. Not all, SOME. As well, it does nothing to fix the walking issues or the huge problem of needing to access certain areas of the game in order to move on, yet your characters will not go over there so matter how many hundreds of times you click your mouse. At least they are trying, right? However, until these huge issues are fixed, i can only give the game failing marks here.
Control and Gameplay Rating: Worthless
Ceville only takes about five to six hours to beat. That is, if you can get the game to work properly and it doesn’t include all the time spent loading the game, restarting the game, or clicking vainly on every pixel on the screen hoping that the walk function finally decides to kick in for the first and only time this hour. It’s also exceedingly linear, like nearly all Adventure games. This means that even if you are one of the exceedingly rare gamers (In other words, someone that worked on the game) that can get Ceville to actually play properly, it’s still only a one-shot.
Even then, all the issues with this game, coupled with the annoying voice acting repetition, will make sure you put this game down (or burn it) long before you beat it. God knows there is no reason to ever touch this game more than once.
Replayability Rating: Worthless
Another problem with the game is that you are supposed to interact with all the possible objects on the screen by left clicking on them. However, the areas for object interaction are so tiny, you will rarely find them without help. This is where the space bar comes in. Clicking on the space bar bring up a list of interactive objects for you so that you can see exactly where you need to click. However doing so really takes the fun out exploring the game, and as this is pretty much the only way to truly interact with the game, the skews the balance of the game because it is just one more factor that is heaped on the “this game really isn’t playable” pile.
The actual puzzles in the game aren’t very hard either. Sure most of them have no real logic or common sense to them, but it’s exceptionally easy to figure out what to do next based on verbal and visual clues. Of course, when you get to a point where the game won’t let you proceed due to horrible engine design and you feel stumped even though you’ve clicked on every possible item and location only to finally breakdown and get a walkthrough that says you are indeed supposed to access the unclickable area, you will be filled with rage. Then if you say, do some exploring to see if it’s just you and you learn that no, these errors are happening to the majority of people who purchased the game and that rage just builds.
In this sense, there is no semblance of balance to Ceville whatsoever and it will be judged accordingly.
Balance Rating: Worthless
Ceville tries really hard to play off the style and themes of Monkey Island and Shrek. Heck, it even says so on the box. A lot of these characters and situations have been done to death and I swear I’ve played several games with a similar plot. Bad guy gets deposed by badder guys. Bad guy is protagonist and thus the “good guy” for the purposes of the game. Yeah, it’s been done before.
Still, there’s a degree of charm and some of the “run around collecting items to get other items” puzzles were a bit outside the box, and I appreciate that. See, there ARE some good things to be said about this game. It’s just too bad the nicest thing I can say is that the game has a little bit of originality to it but that it’s mostly an attempt to ride of the coattails of things that were done before, and better to boot.
Originality Rating: Mediocre
Ummm, the game doesn’t work most of the time. Areas you NEED to access can’t be. The freaking WALK ability doesn’t work 90 percent of the time. There are severe slowdown issues and the game crashes frequently. The dev team blames things on the graphics card even though several gamers, like myself, who have arguably the best graphics card on the market and these issues still crop up.
Most gamers that pick this up won’t be able to even get the game to load properly. Those that do won’t be able to finish Act One save for a select few, and those that can are such a small number it’s pathetic.
It’s hard to imagine a more awful game than Ceville being released at the price of thirty quid. As much as I hated The Path, at least it was cheap and could be played, even if it was a boring rapefest.
Addictiveness Rating: Worthless
9. Appeal Factor
I’m trying to think of who would enjoy this game. The dev team. The dev team’s mothers. Reviewers that somehow decided to not mention the issues with this title to the general public who are unfortunately encountering them left and right?
The only people I can think of is that the single digit percentage that have somehow managed to get this game to work without the truly severe issues plaguing them. Then if you can get past the never ending nonsense chatter posing as witty banter or the rather generic story, you might have a small amount of fun with this game.
Other than that, only escapees from a mental institution would have fun with this.
Appeal Factor Rating: Worthless
You know, I hate being this mean towards a game. I hate being this ANGRY towards a game. Games are supposed to be fun. They’re supposed to be an escape. Reviewing them is supposed to be a labour of love – not a grueling ordeal that gives me a headache from just writing about my experiences with it.
I’ve played a lot of awful games. My staff has played a lot of awful games. Unfortunately, 2009 seems to be chock full of awful games and the Adventure genre is having the worst year I can ever remember. When a game like Cevill is released at a price far higher than most Adventure games and it barely, if ever works, that’s just a big middle finger to PC gamers, adventure gamers, and really, any type of gamer. I really hope that Realmforge works on these issues and that eventually, Cevill is actually playable. Right now only a small mix of gamers seem to be able to play this without a hitch, and there appears to be little rhyme or reason between the stats of the PC’s and laptops that can. If this ever gets fixed, I will happily re-review Ceville. There is promise here, but the sloppiness and lack of care about making a quality product far overshadows everything else.
Miscellaneous Rating: Worthless
Control and Gameplay: Worthless
Appeal Factor: Worthless
FINAL SCORE: VERY BAD GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
God, why do you hate me? Why did you allow the creation of Ceville? Why would you allow someone release an Adventure game that barely works at a rate of about forty-five USD? Why would you allow said game to barely work, to crash repeatedly, and to have it so the walk function of the game is unresponsive in all but the rarest of occasions. Are you secretly Cthulhu? Because my experiences with Ceville was akin to staring into the anthropomorphic personification of madness itself and walking away pretty scathed. This game has little to no redeeming qualities and considering the official forums for this game are almost soley, “This game doesn’t work properly,” it shows you how sloppy we’ve allowed PC game releases to become. Thank god it’s currently unavailable in America. Let’s all pray it stays that way. IA! IA! Cthulhu Fhtagn!