Reperfection: Volume 1
First posted on 24 March 2013. Last updated on 24 March 2013.
The game is available at Zodiac.
When devising novel storylines in adventure games, game developers have learned to leverage different plot devices. A common plot device calls for the protagonist to make tough momentary choices, each bearing a different consequence. Another but lesser used plot device positions the protagonist with the ability to avoid facing these choices all together, by traveling back in time to change history itself. These plot devices are commonly used in all forms of fictional writing, including books, films, and television. In Reperfection, a new episodic game series from Tinnitus Games, the German indie developer tries to leverage both of these plot devices in attempt to create an engaging story.
Reperfection: Volume 1 is the first episode of this new series. The story involves Ben Freeman, a man happily married to a beautiful woman named Sarah. Together, they have a wonderful son named Danny. Ben's perfect life, however, is quickly shattered when his wife dies in a freak car accident. At his wife's funeral, Ben suddenly discovers the ability to alter history by traveling back in time. He does so by simply looking into the eyes of his dead wife. Unfortunately, as a consequence of his action in trying to save his wife, another tragedy strikes that leads instead to the death of his son. Ben soon realizes that the only way to save both his wife and his son is to prevent the car accident from happening at all. Naturally, Ben uses his newfound ability to travel back in time once again to try to alter the destiny of his family as well as others who are linked to the tragedy event.
The premise of the story may sound preposterous at first. Yet, as I direct Ben's actions to try to change his own fate, I quickly become immersed in the developer's own experimental storytelling process and find the experience to be intriguing and utterly fascinating.
The entire game is set up as a graphic novel, with new panels opening up as the story progresses. Despite being billed as an interactive novel, the game is played much like a standard point-and-click adventure game. A diary icon at the top left of the screen lets you access the game's menu options. You scan each scene using the cursor to locate a character or an object of interest. When the cursor turns red, you press the left mouse button to trigger a context sensitive menu in the form of picture icons from which you can choose the applicable action.
When the game is first launched, you are presented with the cover of a black and white graphic novel that contains the main menu. When you start the game proper, the graphic novel opens up like a comic book and zooms into the first panel. The artwork is artistically drawn in black and white. Occasionally, key objects appear in red to draw your attention. There is no spoken dialog. When the characters speak, speech bubbles appears. Left clicking the mouse speeds up the conversation.
Characters are animated similar to those in motion comics. Gamers unfamiliar with this art style may find the lack of full animation in the game disappointing. For example, when Ben moves, he simply "teleports" from place to place without any in-between animation. Characters show up where they need to be and then disappear. Interestingly, because the need to redo some of the scenarios more than once as Ben travels back in time, the lack of animation is actually welcomed as you can progress quickly to the point where Ben can choose a different action.
The plot itself is quite dark, but it still has few moments of lightness. As Ben desperately tries to save the other characters, he quickly learns that fate cannot be so easily changed by a simple action. The game challenges you to be the ultimate savior. It is this power to alter destiny that makes the game so engaging and seductive.
The game explores the concept of unintended consequences as a result of a person's choice. You can go back in time and alter your interaction with the other characters that lead to different outcomes. There are scenarios where you try to save a beautiful woman and where you get captured by a deranged serial killer. I am intrigued but also shocked by some of the horrific consequences that Ben faces as a result of him choosing different actions. Replaying the same scenarios in order to try to change the outcomes can be both fascinating and frustrating.
Background music is played subtly throughout most of the game. The game automatically saves your progress.
The developer has deliberately avoided standalone puzzles or mini-games in the game that make little contextual sense. I applaud the developer for staying away from overused genre tropes and for trying new ways to make the gameplay engaging. Most of the puzzles are dialog based, though a few of them are inventory based.
Given the episodic format, the game is quite short and can be finished in about 2 hours. The episode ends on a mini cliffhanger, with the developer promising to release the remaining episodes on a regular schedule.
Reperfection: Volume 1 is a promising beginning to a new episodic adventure game series. Despite the short length of this episode, the gripping narrative and surprising cliffhanger will undoubtedly draw in many fans who eagerly await the next episode.