Did someone cast a voodoo curse on this game?
Voodoo Chronicles: The First Sign, developed by Space Monkey Games and published by Sanuk Games, is a point and click adventure that has made its way over fro the PC to the PS3, complete with HD visuals and support for the PlayStation Move controller alongside the standard Dual Shock controller. Whilst there is obviously a market for these types of more casual games on the big screen, should Voodoo Chronicles have bothered making the move to the Sony console?
Beginning the game, the player will be treated to an extended scene depicting an expedition to recover a magical artefact which results in an entire tribe being more or less wiped out, but not before the Shaman curses the members of the expedition. From this, we jump forward in time to our hero James Voodoo, a successful detective with some interesting skills. I don’t want to give too much away, as the story is generally one of the reasons to play a game like this, but let’s say that our hero is summoned to do some investigating, and things get weirder from there on.
Voodoo Chronicles: The First Sign could almost be a typical Noir detective story, were it not for two simple things. Firstly is the ever-present Voodoo aspect which begins with just a menacing character popping up and the occasional weird object. However, once the shrunken head makes an appearance, any chance of the game being “typical” fly out of the window. This is no bad thing in itself, as it gives the game a unique feel.
But the other thing that really spoils the Noir feeling is the voice of the main character. There is an issue with the voice acting throughout the game, it is universally terrible. But the main character, our edgy hero detective, really does deserve an award for the most unconvincing voice work ever. In an effort to describe this characters voice, I can only make comparisons to children’s TV presenters. It’s just not what you would expect. I am almost tempted to recommend the game just for the chuckles at the voices. But I won’t.
The heart and soul of any point and click adventure is the puzzles. In Voodoo Chronicles we have a combination of cog-moving, grid negotiating and switch flipping puzzles, the likes of which can be found in pretty much any game of this type. They all work well, with some being more difficult than others, some relying on luck and the occasional one that will leave the player grateful for the hint system.
But the majority of puzzle solving will come down to hidden object puzzles. You know the sort, the player is presented with a screen filled with objects and then is given a list of items to find in that screen. Some of the objects will become useful in the main game, allowing the player to progress. Sometimes objects will be hidden with another object in the screen, which I always think is cheating, but they don’t make the puzzles much more difficult. There are some problems with the descriptions of the items you have to find. In one room filled with numerous books, the object to find was a book. And trying to find something vaguely described as a “statue” can be a bit frustrating.
There also appear to be some bugs that have made their way onto the PS3 version of the game. On more than one occasion, objects just refused to be selected within a hidden object puzzle, leaving me wondering if I was clicking the right item. After a while, I had to quit the puzzle and go back in, only to find that I had found the right items. There is also a strange problem with the size of the screen, often not displaying everything that the player needs to see.
Voodoo Chronicles: The First Sign just doesn’t come across as a well-made game. Whilst the quirky story will undoubtedly entertain some players, and the puzzles are fairly good when they work properly, the glitches and overall lack of polish will leave most gamers wishing that Voodoo Chronicles had indeed stayed on the PC.