Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle

Posted by Matt Barton.
First posted on 24 June 2007. Last updated on 11 August 2009.
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Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle
Brian and Joshua are somewhere in a snowy part of Alaska.
Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle
There are several interesting items to place in Brian's inventory.
Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle
The game is loaded with lots of scantily clad women in provocative poses.
Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle
This Jamaican character is a serious druggie.
Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle
Sushi plays a vital role in helping Brian reach his goals.

Pendulo Studios' 2007 sequel Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle is the follow-up to the 2001 game Runaway: A Road Adventure. Pendulo Studios is a Spanish developer with a penchant for making graphical adventure games in the tradition of LucasArts style point-and-click adventures. However, Pendulo Studios seems more willing to venture into mature territory than most other developers: the many female characters are scantily clad and flirtatious, and the humor does not avoid "taboo" topics such as drugs and sex. The graphics are terrific, the writing is good, the interface is coherent, the coding is stable, and the voice acting ranges from good to spectacular. Overall, Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle is an excellent game with many good elements in it, but some gamers may be off-put by certain potentially offensive racial stereotypes and stymied by a few non-intuitive and very frustrating puzzles.

The game begins with a spectacular scene: a plane is about crash on an isolated (but not uninhabited) tropical Mala Island. The aging pilot has apparently lost consciousness, so Brian Basco and his girlfriend Gina Timmins, both being passengers on the plane, have to think fast. Brian forces Gina into a parachute and thrusts her out of the plane. Gunshots are heard. Brian manages to crash land the plane into the jungle. He has no idea if Gina has survived, and he must somehow get out of the jungle and back into civilization. However, once he does, he finds that the U.S. military has taken over the island and declared martial law, though Brian cannot fathom the reason—nor will the gruff, warmongering colonel in charge of the operation admit to knowing anything about Gina. Eventually, Brian meets the other civilian occupants, finds out what the military is hiding, and works to prevent the colonel from acquiring a deadly weapon from a highly advanced alien race. To accomplish all this, Brian will need to work with his friends Joshua, Sushi, Rutger, and Saturn, as well as several other unique and interesting characters.

While the story has many twists and turns, most of the action in this game takes place in the jungle, near the beach, or on the water. There is almost always a scantily clad female on the screen or nearby. Suffice it to say, this is a fine game for guys looking for a little sex appeal in their gaming. There are also some elements that may offend some players, however. Perhaps the most striking is the character Joshua, a bucktoothed Asian who seems based on the worst sort of racist stereotypes. Another problematic character for some is Rutger, a black Jamaican whose only interests in life seem to be smoking marijuana and taking drugs. On a positive note, even though the women in the game are seldom wearing much clothing, they are depicted as intelligent, self-assured, and at times more capable than the protagonist. Unfortunately, the "sexy" aspects of the game are played up in the artwork to such an extent that many potential gamers may assume it is little more than soft porn! For instance, on a particular version of the box cover art for this game, Gina's rear end is prominently on display, and the back shows a couple more scantily clad women in suggestive poses. Although the game contains suggestive scenes of an adult nature (for example, oral sex is suggested, but not shown), these images may actually mislead some gamers into thinking the game contains more sexual content than it actually does. To put it simply, this game is full of sexual themes, but it is definitely not pornographic.

Regardless of the controversial subject matters dealt with by this sequel, the production values of the game are very high. The scenery is vivid and animation of the characters is fluid. There is no problem making out objects, and it is always fairly clear which items are important and which are mere scenery. The control scheme is quite logical and easy to grasp; the mouse pointer changes to reflect the situation (for example, an arrow indicates an exit and a magnifying glass means an object can be examined). The inventory system is fast and easily managed. Perhaps my favorite aspect of this game after the graphics is the witty dialog and superb music. Lani Minella takes a break as the voice of Nancy Drew (in Her Interactive's Nancy Drew Mystery Games) to contribute her talent, taking on the roles of Gina as well as several other characters. It is fairly obvious that the same few actors play different characters; this is particularly obvious in the case of Chris Wilcox, who plays 3 prominent roles. While the music in this game may not be spectacular, it is quite soothing and adds greatly to the ambiance.

I found most of the puzzles in this game to be just at the right level of difficulty: the solutions were not too obvious, but not counter-intuitive. When confronted with a problem, I would first envision a solution, and then, sure enough, find the items necessary to implement it. Unfortunately, I was stumped on 3 different occasions that caused me great frustration (never a good sign). In 2 of the 3 cases, the problem turned out to be a linearity issue. This game was quite linear, and I found a need to exhaust every dialog option on multiple occasions to advance the plot. At times, I could not even tell what had caused the dialog options to change; there was simply a new option in the menu. Other problems with linearity involved items that could be added to Brian's inventory. For instance, I searched a pile of treasure and Brian collected an idol. I tried searching again to no effect. Later on, though, when I went back after I had solved another puzzle, sure enough, I could then take more stuff from the pile. There were really no clues in the game to suggest further actions could be taken on the pile. Another example was a sand turtle where I suspected an item I needed had been buried. Although I had a metal detector, Brian refused to use it on the turtle until after I had tripped another piece of dialog with a character. I dislike being "railed" into such a linear narrative. Perhaps the most baffling of all the puzzles, though, involved using a pair of wine bottles on a hallway. This action caused Brian to take the wine into his quarters, where he promptly doffed them and re-emerged with empty bottles needed for another puzzle. Again, I saw no logical reason why I would need to click on the hallway to make this happen. I would have greatly appreciated more hints sprinkled throughout the game. It should either offer more in-game hints or allow more flexibility.

Thankfully, the game is divided neatly into chapters, which helps to reduce the need for backtracking and extensive trial-and-error with a huge inventory. Experienced adventure gamers will appreciate the many allusions to older games sprinkled throughout this game, such as the many references to the rubber chicken on a pulley, a gag any gamer familiar with The Secret of Monkey Island will surely remember. Another such reference is during a dream set aboard an old pirate ship. Brian is asked to identify himself, and he responds, "Brushian"—a subtle reference to the Monkey Island avatar, Guybrush. There are also references to Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean.

In short, Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle is a high quality adventure game that mature fans of classic styled adventure games will not want to miss. It is not a game for young children, of course. The visuals in this game will probably appeal more to males than female gamers, though the story and puzzles in it will appeal to both.

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