Runaway: Dream of the Turtle PC Review

Okay, I’ll admit right from the get go I have never played the Runaway series before. In fact I had never heard of the original release, Runaway: A Road Adventure, until a few weeks ago when the little bit of hype that there is for this game started building. I am however a big fan of the Adventure genre and have many discs of the old Sierra and LucasArts hits hidden in the many nooks and crannies of my fair abode. Unfortunately just the simple mention of those two companies leaves this latest addition to the genre with heady heights to scale. For me adventure titles impart to the player the most memorable moments gaming has to offer. Thinking back though the years I can still remember laughing my way through LeChucks Revenge and Grim Fandango, stumbling my way though the complexities of Day of the Tentacle and rushing home to find out the latest twist that The Longest Journey would send my way. For me all of these games were not only a joy to play but were something I’d would return to again and again just to relive the experience.

As you can see, The Dream of the Turtle sure has a lot to live up to then, and with all the names I threw around in that opening paragraph I think I really have set the bar far too high. However, I should give the game some credit as it puts up a good fight at making a solid impression in the genre. Graphically the game looks great with each of the cel-shaded cartoon-like environments and its inhabitants seemingly trying to outdo the next as you work your way through the game. In fact, in my opinion, this is one of the main reasons you would want to keep playing the title as you wait to see what kind of wonderfully realized locations will appear on you screen next. Another plus point for the game is that Brian, the games main protagonist, is actually a rather likeable chap and thankfully he is both acted and scripted very well! In fact the whole story, which starts out in Hawaii and ends up coming as far out as Alaska, is a pretty enjoyable 15 hours to play through once you don’t take things too seriously.

In terms of gameplay, Dream of the Turtle does not herald any huge changes to a now almost 15 year old formula. Puzzles of varying difficulty are out in force with most of them taxing you with performing some logical task with the items you can pick up that litter the environment. Most of the puzzles on show make sense and need a small bit of backtracking but should be able to be worked out with a few minutes thought. There are however some right stinkers in there that will no doubt stump most people. I personally gave up on three or four of them and after starching my head for a while went to the only online FAQ I could find to help me out. I should note that one very nice aspect of the game is that you don’t have to go through every single step of a puzzle to make Brian perform a task. Instead of clicking a long line of options telling your avatar to “Look At Sign,” “Grab Sign,” “Leave Down Sign” you just click on the item once and Brain is smart enough to figure out what you want to do.

However, the game does have its fair share of problems though, which is very disappointing. In all honesty there are so many little niggles on show it severely drags down the game’s appeal. Firstly, some of the music choices in the game are so staggeringly bad it would blow your mind, it makes it even worse when most of the badly penned rock tunes on show don’t match up well with the beautiful locales on show. Another point of contention would be that most of the characters in the game seem to be overly stereotyped to such an extent that you almost know what they will do and say before they do it themselves, some however might find this an endearing trait of the game rather than a negative. Continuing on the character theme so of them are also voice very badly. In fact bar the voice performances of the main characters, Brain, Gina, Bushi and Lokelani, you would be forgiven for cringing at the vocals coming through your speakers. The final problems I had with the game is that it seems to forget which audience it wants to target. For a while you can sit happily in the 18-24 male demographic and enjoy what you playing and then suddenly story will take a turn which would not seem out of place for something aimed at a female in her mid teens before jumping back again.

So when all is said and done DotT is a solid yet hardly spectacular adventure game. It really does nothing to push the genre forward, and neither does it do enough to position itself in the top tier of said genre. The only draw of DotT is that it is just a fun game to play, and by ‘just’ I mean it borderline scrapes by that mark. If you are a huge fan of the adventure genre then you will get some fun out of it but for others it may have just one too many problems to put up with.

So the big question is how will I remember this one? The answer, sadly not all that fondly!

A good adventure romp if you can put up with the flaws

6.5 out of 10

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