A Stroke of Fate: Operation Valkyrie
First posted on 07 September 2013. Last updated on 07 September 2013.
|Mayer enters the RSHA building.|
|Mayer delivers the dossier to his superior.|
|Mayer searches for the incriminating list of conspirators.|
|Mayer arrives at Hilter's Adlerhorst.|
|The torture chamber in the dungeon looks most barbaric.|
The game is available at GamersGate.
In A Stroke of Fate: Operation Valkyrie, developer SPLine Games has ambitiously and audaciously attempted to recreate the events surrounding the historic July 20 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler near the end of World War II during the latter years of the Fascist Germany. Despite the historic roots, this is a story of plots, counterplots, and behind the scenes warfare by the German Resistance seeking to overthrow the tyrannical Nazi regime as well as the SS and Gestapo trying to desperately maintain order within the Third Reich.
At its core, this game is an interactive detective story framed in authentic Germany between 1944 and 1945 and deals with 2 assassination attempts (1 real and 1 fictional, as compared to the 42 real assassination attempts officially recorded) on Hitler's life. It is also a third-person, point-and-click adventure. You take on the role of a fictitious German officer, Standartenführer Gerhard Detlef Mayer. Mayer sees himself as a patriot of Germany, though he is not a member of the Nazi Party. After decoding a secret message while working at the SS headquarters, Mayer learns of Operation Valkyrie and eventually gets assigned as a special investigative officer to track down the conspirators and report them to the Gestapo. When the news of the failed assassination attempt at the Wolfsschanze surfaces, you (as Mayer) are determined to sabotage the ensuing investigations in order to minimize the casualties of the conspirators. You also decide to devise your own assassination attempt to kill the Führer. Using your cover position and authority under the Gestapo, you have unquestionable access to get whatever is needed to plan out the assassination.
Installation of the game is simple and glitch free. The accompanying brief manual (12 pages) gives basic instructions on how to play the game. From the main menu, you can choose Start, Load, Options, Credits, and Quit. Choosing Options allows you to change the volume levels for Sound, Music, and Voice. A particularly interesting setting is that you can choose to play the game in Full Color, Black and White, or Sepia—the latter choices work well to reflect the period of the war. You can enable or disable Shadows, a Faster Hints system, and Antialiasing.
The game begins with cinematic cut scene in the form of a black and white graphic novella. It tells the story of a young Hitler enlisting as a volunteer soldier during World War I. The informative narrative then continues a decade later with Hitler now leading his own political party. Mayer is there to witness Hitler's historic speech, after having been assigned to serve the Gestapo at headquarters in the RSHA building. For years, Mayer believes in Hitler and his vision until he visits a concentration camp. There, he realizes Hitler's madness and makes a pledge to rid of him in order to save Germany from destruction.
The controls are simple and well documented in the manual. The game makes use of 5 context sensitive cursors. All navigations are mouse driven. To travel between different indoor locations, you simply click where on you want to go inside the building. Once outside the building, you can click on your car and instruct your chauffeur, Wilm, to drive to the different outdoor locations to where you need to travel. All outdoor locations can also be revisited immediately via a map. The map can be accessed by clicking near the bottom right corner of the screen or by use of a keyboard shortcut.
You can die in this game. It is advisable to save your progress frequently. The game supports 8 save game slots. Sometimes, the save you make actually goes back a little way from where you are. There is an auto save function.
I am quite impressed with the game's overall production. The plot offers a well balanced blend of historical fact and speculative fiction, giving you a believable impression that you are actually living in Berlin near the end of World War II. Gamers who are history buffs may be a bit disappointed to find that Operation Valkyrie is only a small part of the game's story, since your protagonist role leads you to plot your own devices to try to kill Hitler. The graphics are excellent. All of the locations, both authentic and fictitious, are elaborately modeled. The intricate details of Mayer's house, the RSHA building, and the Adlerhorst (Eagle's eyrie) within Kransberg Castle are particularly breathtaking. Use of shadows, lighting, and reflections readily complement the period architecture of yesteryear.
As you progress in the story, you will have an opportunity to interact with several authentic historic figures from the Third Reich. They include retired Wehrmacht General Ludwig Beck, SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, Reichsführer of the SS Heinrich Himmler, and other notable dignitaries. In fact, you actually learn a lot about Himmler—his madness, his obsession of mysticism and the occult, and his strange behaviors.
Gameplay is excellent in general. However, the pace is unnecessarily slowed down by slow loading of locations as well as an annoyingly slow walking pace of your character. The puzzles are sporadic and not too challenging. They include decoding a secret message, setting up a surveillance camera, making a bomb, avoiding searchlights, and others. Perhaps the hardest puzzles are those that require you to locate items for use in the inventory. Some items are very difficult to find, so you really need to scan the cursor carefully over every pixel of the screen.
The most disappointing and abysmal part of this game is the voice acting. The story is set entirely in Berlin, and all the characters are supposedly Germans. Yet, not a single character speaks with an authentic German accent. Somehow, the voiceovers are muddled in the localization process from Russian to English. This is inconceivably negligent given the game's aim for historic authenticity. The characters also sound tired and uninterested and speak in monotones. The sound effects are solid, while the ambient orchestral music does well to complement the mood of the game.
The game is rather short. Experienced players can easily finish it in about 5 hours. The game's ending is a bit confusing and somewhat a disappointment. It ends with the message "To be continued...", suggesting that there is a second part or sequel to the series to be released later.
In sum, A Stroke of Fate: Operation Valkyrie is a competent adventure game that has the potential to be much more. The game succeeds in featuring a solid plot that encapsulates a turbulent period of human history. Yet, the game fails because of the abysmal voice acting that readily removes any sense of immersion in this historic period. Even so, I undoubtedly recommend giving this game a try, on the pretext that the sequel will likely be much better.