Review: Treasure Island (PC)

Treasure Island
Developer: Radon Labs
Publisher: Dreamcatcher Interactive
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 12/18/2009

After having the joy of reviewing Tales of Monkey Island, our Adventure Game of the Year, I ended up reviewing a new game from Dreamcatcher based off the book, Treasure Island. Going from something a bit campy and fun to something far more serious and at times glib as far as adventure games goes has been a bit jarring. So how does being a far more serious adventure game live up to our adventure standards at DHGF? Let’s take a look.

Story/Modes
I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t read Treasure Island since I was in elementary school, I only vaguely remember the older film, I don’t have too many favorable memories from Treasure Planet, and have a spotty memory as far as things go lately anyway. However, as far as tone and events, I’d say they did a good job translating over the book into a playable, and even interesting, adventure game. The dialogue is decent for the most part, and you’re given some fairly decent choices as far as conversations go.

Basically it boils down to Jim Hawkins finding a treasure map amongst his father’s belongings. Several events occur, and with a few misgivings and a supposedly loyal crew, Hawkins sets out on a grand adventure to recover some of Flint’s hidden treasure. However, things don’t go according to plan as yourcrew isn’t all loyal to you. Now in the Caribbean and a long way from England, you, as Hawkins, must survive and beat the traitors to the treasure.

I think they pretty much covered the basics, and there is a decent pacing to the story even if it has a bit of a rough start. It is well known and I don’t think it suffered being translated into English from the German the game started out as.

Story/Modes Rating: Great

Graphics
Visually this game is pretty amazing. The 3D models of the towns, backgrounds and the characters are all very well done. The interface isn’t clunky, once you figure out how to get it open. If you have the visual cues on, they are subtle and don’t ruin the visual feel.

This is one of those games where I’d love to be able to step into and just experience what I’m seeing. The Caribbean areas are especially wonderful as they remind me of the two cruises I took down there. I was actually surprised considering the video card requirements only hit on a 128 meg card, and after looking at it you’d think you’d need quite a bit more ram on the video card.

My only complaint here is that as visually impressive as this game is, you have little to no control over your camera. Being able to zoom in or out would be VERY handy at times, and if it’s there I couldn’t figure out how to do it. That and you’ll have these great cinematic shots and camera moves and then when you’re in a dialogue with a character, the camera sits in one spot and most of the time is so far back you can’t make out any facial features or anything. The movement animations look great, but we do like reaction shots sometimes.

Graphics Rating: Incredible

Sound
Here’s where the game lost some big points. While the translation was pretty good, and the music is passable, the voice actors for a lot of the characters in this game are terrible. I mean, this is a special, “turn on the subtitles and mute the volume” kind of terrible. Instead of just asking at the start if you want hints or not, they have some guy pop up using a terribly irritating voice telling you how he knows you, how much of a challenge do you want and so on. My wife was cringing from across the room and she had her headphones on and was listening to music. Yeah, it was bad.

Add to that, it doesn’t look like they matched up the mouth movements with the new English vocals. The game did start off in German (Well I hope anyway, as the developer and original distributor were German). Most of the time you can’t tell because the camera is pulled way back, but when it’s in closer it looks like you’re watching a bad anime dub. This could have used some work.

Sound Rating: Poor

Control and Gameplay
With a point and click interface, you’d think controlling and playing this game would be a bit easier, but sometimes in crowded areas it can be a chore. Everything in this game is done with the mouse. Click to move there, click to interact with this object, so on and so on. This is fine, except the camera itself can be an issue, especially if you just want to get across an area and not interact with anything at the moment. There’s no way to just move. You have to click each spot and in some areas the view is in so tight you can maybe move five feet at a time when you’d like to be able to move about 50.

There are times when this can be a real issue. The graveyard at the game’s start comes to mind as well as in tight quarters where you can interact with everything on the screen. This can be a big pain to do much of anything. Sometimes just being able to use the mouse works really well, and there are other times while I was playing this that I wished I could just hit a directional key and get moving.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Mediocre

Replayability
There isn’t anything to collect, and I don’t see how the ending could really be all that different, and with only two difficulty settings (hints and no hints). There isn’t much replay value here unless you really like the Treasure Island story. Unfortunately the grating voice acting, the annoyingly tight areas to move around in with the mouse and some of the odd camera angles will probably not have most people playing this on repeat any time soon. I mean Windows does come with Solitaire, right?

Replayability Rating: Below Average

Balance
There is a nice variety to this game, and for the price it’s a decent length. The hints will help you through but even then you still have to use your noggin to make it all work and finish the game. I really can’t complain in this area as the challenges do work their way up as you go, and for the price the game looks like a high budget title. My big complaints are in the way it controls a bit and the voice acting.

Balance Rating: Great

Originality
I have no idea how many games there are out there dealing with pirates. I have no idea how many adventure games deal with treasure. I know there was a text-based game called Treasure Island back in the 80’s. This game is also based pretty much directly from the book. So although the puzzles are interesting and mostly original, the rest of this game is most definitely not. I wouldn’t expect it to being based off of a novel and from what I’ve seen how they more or less stick to it.

Originality Rating: Pretty Poor

Addictiveness
I tried to get into this game. I liked the idea and it does look fantastic, but between the cringe-worthy voice acting and the somewhat awkward mouse controls (I have a keyboard too!) I had to struggle to make it through. I didn’t even mind that the voices were off sync with the mouth movements. I watch enough anime, I’m used to it. It just took too long to get interesting and even then couldn’t hold my interest long enough. Is it a terrible game? No, but I don’t ever see people really sitting down to enjoy this one like I did the other games I’ve reviewed in the past year either.

Addictiveness Rating: Mediocre

Appeal Factor
It looks pretty. Very pretty. The price is enticing as well. However I had to struggle to find many websites that are carrying the game, let alone any that have any kind of information out there about it. This is just going to be another of those throw-away titles sitting in the bargain bin at your local store a year or two from now. Forgotten and shoved to the side for that next big hit title that everyone is really clamoring for.

Appeal Factor Rating: Pretty Poor

Miscellaneous
I really wanted to like this game. I really did. I remember enjoying Treasure Island as a kid and I thought this would be great fun. Unfortunately it made me fell like I was slogging through something that was pieced together by two different directors. Great scenery and wide angle shots and some great action and then they hired some B-movie director to come in and re-shoot all the dialogue scenes and found the cheapest cinematographer that they could find. It was jarring and had me scratching my head how it could jump from amazing to lackluster in just a few seconds.

Miscellaneous Rating: Above Average

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Great
Graphics Rating: Incredible
Sound Rating: Poor
Control and Gameplay Rating: Mediocre
Replayability Rating: Below Average
Balance Rating: Great
Originality Rating: Pretty Poor
Addictiveness Rating: Mediocre
Appeal Factor Rating: Pretty Poor
Miscellaneous Rating: Above Average
FINAL SCORE: DECENT GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresize Treasure Island is an adventure game that could have been something really special, and instead ends up being something of a mishmash of good looks and some spotty direction and translation. While the story could be more interesting, and the controls a bit better, there are some solid puzzles, logic problems and riddles to keep the mind going. There are some amazing visuals to accompany it, but the problems with some of the camera choices and movement options will leave you frustrated and wondering where it went wrong. While the price may be right, there are some better games out there in the genre that are a lot more fun.

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