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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

The Adventure Company

 

Developer

Phantomery Interactive

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2008

 

 

- Nice environments
- Very good use of sound

 

 

- Much too short
- Translation goofs detract from impact of story
- Might be too obscure for first time adventure gamers
- No replayability

 

 

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Outcry

Score: 5/10

 

outcry-1.jpg (37083 bytes)          outcry-2.jpg (68007 bytes)

 

I confess to missing a lot of the old adventure games from my misspent youth. The Myst series, of course, remains one of my favorites. And it's gratifying to know that some people are still trying to keep the genre alive, particularly studios in Russia who seem to have latched on to it with a passion. One of the latest titles to come out from The Adventure Company's publishing arrangements with Russian studios is Outcry. However passionate developer Phantomery Interactive might be about the genre, though, something seems to have gotten lost in translation.

 

The visuals on Outcry are fairly well done. High quality static renderings abound, while there are occasional uses of FMV actors interspersed in the environment. The art direction is very nice, from the gloomy decay of the game's opening level to the Escher-esque "Shimmering World" where gravity and large chunks of structures do not seem to be on the same page with each other. But while the overall art styles are great, I quickly came to detest the film noise filter in the opening level and the faint distortion filter that was used on later levels. I'm sure somebody thought they were adding to the game, that they created a "cinematic look" or a "dream-like feel" respectively. In truth, they bothered the hell out of me and detracted from what were obviously some painstakingly created environments. Moreover, the transitions that you make going from one place to another as you move through the environments is enough to make one go blind. They're easily turned off in the options section, but they're a serious detractor.

 

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For music and sound, Outcry has again done a very good job. Since sound is often a key indicator of whether or not you've successfully completed a task, Phantomery's attention to detail in this area is highly commended. The voice actors enunciate with clarity and it's not difficult at all to understand them. The musical score is nicely done, though a bit 

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spartan, and probably not quite enough for one to fill up a CD with in the same way you could with the Myst soundtrack. If there's any complaint on the sound front, it's in the area of translation from Russian to English. The actors' mouths in the very few uses of FMV in the game don't quite match up with the voices when they're speaking. It's not quite at the level of a bad martial arts movie or Japanese anime dub, but it's still a little distracting. Additionally, there are some instances which what was very likely idiomatic Russian was literally translated into English, with the resulting scratching of one's head. The sound is clear but the meaning gets lost.

 

In the area of gameplay, Outcry isn't exactly breaking new ground, and that's just fine to an extent. You move around the environments, find stuff, solve puzzles, and move on. The puzzles do have a logic to them, for the most part, but the opening level of the game can lead to some frustration due to brightness issues making it difficult to find the hotspots. The game itself is exceedingly short once you get past the initial fumbling around. The game's storyline is highly cryptic and the character development comes across very poorly. This may be a side effect of the translation process, but I think might also be a case where the cultural aesthetics and thematic sensibilities didn't translate at all. Once you finish the game, there's no incentive towards replayability, so going through the game again probably won't gain you new insight on the storyline the same way re-wat ching films like The Usual Suspects or Donnie Darko might. I will say that the storyline does get tied up at the end, but it's not what I'd consider an elegant ending.

 

All told, Outcry isn't a bad game. It's not one I would recommend for players who aren't already a fan of the genre. Veteran adventure gamers might find it a nice afternoon's diversion but it's not going to be a standout in their library. I give Phantomery credit for trying to keep the genre alive, but they need to go back to the drawing board for the next one.

 

Axel Cushing

January 11, 2008

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