First posted on 24 February 2011. Last updated on 05 July 2012.
|Despite a somber tone, the game has moments of sci-fi humor.|
|Delta-Six must escape the mysterious prison.|
|The world where Azriel lives is dark and gritty.|
|The game features cover based gunplay.|
|Azriel must face his past in order to overcome it.|
Bundle In A Box
Gemini Rue is part of the Bundle In A Box released in May 2012 by Kyttaro Games. The bundle includes 6 additional games: 1893: A World's Fair Mystery, Ben There, Dan That!, Metal Dead, The Sea Will Claim Everything, The Shivah, and Time Gentlemen, Please!. Unlockable extras for the bundle include a booklet for Metal Dead and soundtracks for Gemini Rue and The Shivah.
I have long been a fan of the adventure game genre. Classic adventure games from Sierra and LucasArts have always held a sense of nostalgia that I keep close to my heart, and this nostalgia has perhaps set an unfair standard within me for other adventure games to come. This is because no matter how much I enjoy the adventure games from the current era, I have always found them to be lacking of the same charm. While I still play (and often love) many adventure games that are being released now, there will always be a part of me that wonders whether or not a game can ever capture the same feelings offered by the classic adventure games of yore. I am happy to report that, at least for me, Gemini Rue has delivered admirably.
Gemini Rue, originally titled Boryokudan Rue, takes place in the undefined future, at a time when a crime syndicate known as the Boryokudan has taken over a fair amount of property and is running the galaxy further into ruin. The denizens living in this world fear these well dressed but violent men, and many of them are addicted to (and controlled by) a mysterious drug that is being trafficked by the Boryokudan. In this dystopian future, the weather is consistently dark and rainy, the buildings are cold, desolate, and covered in graffiti, and homeless junkies litter the street. In other words, Gemini Rue is not a cheery game. Rather, it is a gritty neo-noir sci-fi thriller that delivers story, atmosphere, and substance: a trifecta that draws the audience in and immerses them almost immediately, making the game nearly impossible to put down once it is started.
Gemini Rue employs a dual protagonist system. As the game begins, the player takes control of Azriel Odin, a gruff and closed off detective who is a former assassin for the Boryokudan. Azriel is on a search for his missing brother, while trying to exact his own personal revenge on the Boryokudan. As the game progresses, the player also takes control of Delta-Six, a young man who is imprisoned in a mysterious testing facility in an unknown location. Delta-Six, along with the other prisoners, are told that they are being reprogrammed to be introduced back into normal society. Yet, the progress tests administered to them hint at a cause that is much more sinister. Early in the game, the player is given the option to switch between characters at will, a welcomed choice that allows the player to progress further into the game as Azriel if the player ever becomes stuck as Delta-Six, and vice versa.
Gemini Rue is visually stunning, relatively speaking. The game is made to look like the old school adventure games of yore: the characters are drawn as pixelated sprites with no defining facial features, and the game world can be interacted with using this same rule. However, these graphics are juxtaposed with hand painted backgrounds and character portraits mounted in text boxes, both to further immerse the player into the game's gritty experience and to keep the game from totally alienating the player who may be new to the adventure genre. The game also takes an artistic license seen in classic adventure games (such as I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream), framing scenes on context. For example, an apartment building with low ceilings takes up only the bottom portion of the screen, and the sense of elevator claustrophobia is conveyed in small tight panels.
Gemini Rue offers an impressive and mature musical soundtrack that draws the player further in to the experience without being distracting. The soundtrack also includes ambient sounds (such as falling rain) in order to keep the player fully invested in the experience. The voice acting is a pleasant surprise. The developer is to be commended for casting actors whose voices match well to the characters they play. The optional director's commentary is a fun addition, though listening to the commentary while playing the game can be a bit disorienting.
The actual interface utilized in Gemini Rue is neither revolutionary nor new. The game utilizes the most basic of verbs by means of a representative body part—mouth, hand, foot, eye—and the verb changes automatically based on the context of the situation (for example, clicking "hand" can either use an item or push it away). A pictorial inventory appears below the action verbs. The game is a seamless blend of old and new: the graphics are pixelated and have a familiar feel to them (even the subtitle text is retro), while at the same time they are modernized with hand painted backgrounds, a digital organizer to record any important information, and the introduction of cover based gunplay—which, while it makes sense in the narrative, is nevertheless flawed.
While Gemini Rue is a wonderful adventure game, it is not perfect. The game's inclusion of action sequences, while an interesting addition, is awkward in execution. Certain actions (such as taking or leaving cover and aiming) are mapped to specific keys, which may work for some gamers but not others. The fact that the game does not allow the player to remap keys is certainly a strike against it. However, as the action sequences are a minor part of the overall game, it is a strike worth forgiving. Additionally, while the game attempts to draw in gamers new to the genre (and will most likely succeed), veteran gamers will find Gemini Rue an easy game. Still, novice gamers who do not see the act of crossing a balcony as a complex multistep task may have some difficulty getting into the right mindset for the puzzles in this game. If you can forgive these small flaws, however, you will find Gemini Rue to be a gritty, immersive neo-noir story filled with plenty of twists and intrigue.