Hoodwink is the latest Point and Click adventure game from Malaysian based E-One Studios. We spent the last few days playing through from beginning to end and we were pleasantly surprised.
Hoodwink is currently available to buy through Origin
E-One Studio was established in 2006 in the lovely city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ( If you ever head that way, check out Kota Kinabulu, great place to go Diving!) The development studio has a team of 20+ working away on their PC releases, the first of which is Hoodwink.
Ok I’m going to be honest here. I have never once in my life played an adventure game. I remember downloading the Sam and Max trial years ago and I gave up pretty quickly. Im a RTS\RPG\FPS man at heart, so the story line and puzzle aspects of an adventure game don’t seem to be able to hold my interest for long enough to play through. I was however determined to stick it through and loaded up Hoodwink with an open mind.. here’s what happened.
I was dropped into the shoes of Michael Bezzle, a young chap working his way through the city of Kong Yang to get the love of his life an engagement ring. The story begins as I am dropped into a shady room to snoop around detectives Pire’s office, I’m looking for the ring. As I walk around I notice a litter box under the desk and soon enough I find out why, detective Pire is an overcoat wearing, cigar smoking cat! One of the many interesting characters you come across in the game. As you make your way out of the office you meet Saffron, the can do hippy sister that assists you in getting items you need throughout the game. Saffron leads you onto other interesting characters such as roses with legs that run around a Venus Fly trap looking plant that you can play fetch with. How’s that for character development!
Aside from hippies and walking plants there are also second chancers. These are people that have died and have been given a second chance by having their brains implanted into robots. You also meet the local Hawker who can cook up a feast of not so savoury dishes and many more interesting characters as the story develops.
One of the stand outs for me was that E-One has really managed to breath personality into these characters. The voice acting was superbly done bringing each character to life which as a non-adventure gamer, was what really kept me playing through, I was always interested to see where the game would take me next and who else I would meet along the way.
The game itself is as you would expect, a point and click adventure game that has a varying difficulty of puzzles, each adding to the story line and taking you to new parts of Kong Yang. The game itself has been broken up into 4 acts, the introduction easing you into the main character and laying the foundations of the story. Coming from a non-point and click background, I was surprised that I didn’t get bored due to the lack of explosions and fatalities. Credit goes to E-One here for bringing it all together to actually keep me interested with a mix of story line, fantastic visuals and great voice acting.
The puzzles within the game are both fun and head scratchingly difficult at times. Some were fairly simple and didn’t take too much effort, while others I really did struggle with. Not because they were hard to complete, but more so that it lacked some direction at times. For example in the video where we show the introduction to the game, the part where you need to open the vent to clear the smoke took longer than it should have due to the lack of hit registry when I pointed at it. Even though I had moused over it prior, it wasn’t till after I did it several times that the icon changed informing me that it was where I needed to complete the next action.
There is a bit of back and forth between the levels as you need to collect things from Saffron and take them to others, but it never really got too annoying. In general you can turn the tips on and it the game will lead you in the right direction. In the settings page there are options for 8 languages too. Spanish, Russian, English, Italian, German, S.Chinese, Portuguese and French.
The down side when it comes to game play is probably the length of the game. It did feel too short to me. Right as I began getting into the story and characters it felt as though it came to an abrupt end. So the game could almost be episode 1 of X. I guess you always want more of a good thing hey?
Another point which did get annoying was the fact that there was no save points. So if I had to stop playing for any reason, it was back to the start of the act, this really did get annoying at times. The final thing on my hit list is the run feature, or lack of it. Hoodwink does enable you to run, but only in certain parts of the game, so when you are trying to figure out a puzzle and you go back and forth between stuff, having to walk can get really annoying.
The Visuals and Audio
This is where the game really stands out. Short and simple, the art style is great. Each level within each act looks gorgeous and several times I stopped playing the game to just spend time looking around. I am not comparing this to BF3 renders or LA Noire motion capture. Firstly because its not that kind of game and secondly we are talking about an Indie Dev, so to compare it to those would be unfair. I went into this game with an open mind of enjoyment and seeing if the game could possibly change my mind about point and click games. To me it was going to be a success if I enjoyed the story, liked the puzzles and would consider playing it again. I admit, I was surprised that it ticked those boxes, I was a happy gamer.
The other tick comes from the in game voice acting. E-One has definitely put a lot effort into this and it shows. Each characters personality really comes across through the voice acting and adds to the games atmosphere. Listening into random conversations of people on the street is great. I remember walking past 2 girls chatting and the accents reminded me of being in Singapore or Malaysia with the little things that you hear them say. Michaels voice is not blandly read of off a script, you can hear the emotion and excitement when he talks and without the effort put into the voice acting, the game would definitely be lacking.
Overall the visuals and audio stand out and there really isn’t much more I could have asked for in this area.
There is really nothing here to be worried about. There is a cigar in the intro but that’s it, and really that’s only there to add to the story line as it is used to start a fire, not as a useless advertisement of some sort. So you can happily get this for your kids and not have to worry.
So I set out to play this game as a veteran FPS\RTS gamer, I wanted to see if I could enjoy this genre and actually stick it out. Well I can say I finished the game and if episode 2 of Hoodwink came out, I would happily play it. The story line and jokes In the game gave me a chuckle, the visuals were fantastic and the audio I loved. It managed to keep me playing through and I enjoyed a lot of it, so E-One has succeeded in getting a non point and click gamer interested in the genre, gratz!
Though, theres definitely room for improvement. As I mentioned earlier, the length of the game felt too short for me. The storyline was just beginning to take off and it came to an end. Some of the puzzles within the game could be tweaked to make things a little clearer and to be honest, I would have liked to have seen more puzzles overall. The lack of saves and ability to run gets annoying but its not really a game changer, just annoying.
So who should buy this game?
If you are not a point and click gamer, then I can recommend Hoodwink as a good opportunity to jump in and try the genre for yourself. If you like puzzles, enjoy a good story and want a game in your collection that is for those times you don’t feel like fighting on the battlefield, then I don’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy the game. There is a lack of replay value as once you know the puzzles, that’s it, there’s not much else you can do. But next time its on sale pick it up and immerse yourself in Kong Yang. So with its current price on Origin, you’re looking at about $5 an hour for gameplay, a few coffees or a mcmeals, so if you look at it that way, then it’s a nice little investment.
If you are already a point and click player then you are more experienced than me and I really cant tell you much apart from the fact that I did enjoy the game and I’m looking forward to the next instalment by E-One. So watch the gameplay video and see for yourself.
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