Adam's Venture Episode 3: Revelations
First posted on 13 June 2012. Last updated on 30 August 2013.
The series is comprised of 3 episodes:
- Episode 1: The Search for the Lost Garden
- Episode 2: Solomon's Secret
- Episode 3: Revelations
Developed by Vertigo Games, Adam's Venture Episode 3: Revelations is the final episode in the Adam's Venture series. Alas, fans of this trilogy may be disappointed by how the series ends. However, not being a fan myself, and being mostly ignorant of the events from the previous episodes, I am able to look upon this third and final episode with fresh eyes, and, considering the tactless nature of the title's pun, I have found exactly what I have expected. The game's titular and starring role may appear at first to be a pun indicative of a pure adventure game, but it turns out not to be the case. Rather, the game is a linear platformer sprinkled with daunting puzzles instead of deadly pitfalls. While the game takes influence from classic action adventure franchises such as Tomb Raider, it lacks the open-ended exploration that defines those games. Instead, this game tugs the player by the ear from puzzle to puzzle, over the course of a clumsily written narrative.
The story picks up just after the events of Adam's Venture Episode 2: Solomon's Secret, with Adam lying near death in the tomb of Solomon. This revelation only lasts a moment, though, as the story is quickly turned into a flashback where the vast majority of the game is spent. As a newcomer to the series, I am happy to have started playing the game this way, since I have no prior idea of who the main character is. Though the flashback is a nice means of introducing the player to the series, the narrative still falls flat largely due to bad writing and campy acting. Despite the grand scale of the plot, which involves solving the mysteries of the Book of Genesis, the story itself is very light in tone and unfortunately piled sky-high with bad puns and embarrassingly bad comedy. I find Adam to be only slightly more likable than Uncharted's Nathan Drake. Adam's annoying bantering never stops, so much so that his incessant clown act quickly grows tiresome. Fortunately, most of the other characters are at least tolerable. Evelyn has an adorable British accent, the lazy postman is worth a chuckle, and Professor Saint-Omair's elaborate failure of an attempt to uncover an artifact using simple mathematics is the crown jewel in this game's otherwise abysmal sense of humor. Even after learning the back story from the flashback, I never get a sense of who these characters are or what motivates them. It seems like Adam is simply following in the footsteps of his senile father, and Evelyn is little more than a female prop who appears incapable of accomplishing a simple task without having to call upon Adam for help. They are not flawed or round but are just vehicles for bad jokes. The story itself eventually takes a turn for the worse, abruptly putting an end to the flashback and returning back to the events at the beginning of the game. Yet, for a storyline which the entire series has been building toward, there is literally only minutes worth of narrative remaining before the game concludes in a glorious display of mediocrity, crudely wrapped up with a spinning newspaper headline.
Built using the Unreal 3 engine, the game sports impressive aesthetics. The various exotic locales look and feel authentic. The gorgeous visuals are also accented with atmospheric touches and scripted sequences, such as being swarmed by bats in a dark catacomb, running over pigeons that flap their wings and flee in terror, or seeing a truck pass below while shimmying from rooftop to rooftop. The environments are alive and rich with detail. By comparison, the character models are a bit wooden. The music and sound effects also play in perfect harmony with the visuals. In particular, the mystical soundtrack complements well the theme of digging into the forgotten past and spelunking in mysterious ruins. Indeed, the game is so proud of its musical score that it credits the composer alongside the developer and publisher in the introductory promos.
The game prides itself on nonviolent adventuring. I like the idea of this game being non-violent, so long as the platforming and puzzle solving are polished enough to compensate. In this case, they are not. Countless times I have tried to make a running jump across a chasm, only to find myself angrily bashing the space bar while watching helplessly as Adam sprints off a cliff. As for the madness inducing puzzles, the game locks the player in a location and hinders all progression and exploration until the location's puzzles are solved. While I have found some of the puzzles to be easy enough, the majority of them make absolutely no sense to me. Even after backtracking through solutions to see if I can at least decipher some of their logic, the effort is often to no avail.
To make matters worse, the game is buggy. This includes a severe graphical glitch that can be game breaking. In Luz, Adam needs to climb up several ladders to reach the roof at the professor's house. However, the second ladder is not climbable if the game is set in higher resolutions (1920x1080 pixels, for example). The only workaround is to drop to lower screen resolutions (1024x768 pixels, for example). This fixes the pixel size of the ladder, allowing it to be climbed.
Despite being a short and mostly inoffensive indie production, I cannot recommend this game in good conscience. The fluffy, shallow narrative plays in direct contrast to the difficult, illogical puzzles. This oddity causes me to wonder whom the game truly aims for as its target audience. The gorgeous visuals and competent music simply cannot compensate enough to make the game a fun experience. It is hard to imagine any gamer, even a fan of the series, being enthusiastic about this game.