As a declared lover of Lovecraft's work I feel compelled to try any game inspired by the Cthulhu mythos or with an eldritch thematic. Adding to the subject the salt and pepper of an old school adventure game mixed with a bunch of loveable characters and I'm sold. But there was another influential factor that made me take a closer look at Gibbous – A Cthulhu Adventure.
Usually my limited time restricts me from doing most of the work I want to with this blog, but I tend to ignore the dire factors in my life or the schedule I set up for myself as I’m drawn in by various implications to different subjects than the one I set on pursuing (it’s not because of ADHD!). I've said in my interview with KillHouse Games that I'm not a nationalist and I stand by that without diving into political terminology to sustain my point of view. But here is Gibbous, a game produced by a small Romanian indie studio and I couldn't resist the temptation of talking about what could be another successful game made in this country.
Right off the bat Gibbous and its developers come in front of a large number of competitors by releasing a demo. YES! A demo to an unreleased game with a Kickstarter campaign that barely kicked off this week. I call this BLASPHEMY (!!!) out loud as I don’t think there is any other way to describe it. I can't even remember many games that came with a demo after their release and Gibbous has one during what I presume to be some of its early development stages. When was the last time any of you had the chance of testing a game before supporting it on a crowdfunding platform?
So, what is Gibbous? Gibbous is a point and click adventure game with a bunch of characters that constantly seem to break the fourth wall as they get involved in an occultist Lovecraftian plot driven forward through witty dialogues with a not too shabby voice acting. So, basically, an old school style adventure with a thematic I love and funny dialogues that can lighten up the frowns on my forehead (seems like something I need nowadays!). The best description was given by the developers themselves: “Lovecraft meets Day Of The Tentacle” which translates in what should be a sinister setting but with humorous implications.
|Oh man! All that time wasted in Diablo 2!!!|
The demo kicks off in the city of Darkham after the librarian Buzz Kerwan stumbled upon the dreadful Necronomicon and cast a spell from it accidentally turning his cat, Kitteh, into a sarcastic talking pet. Buzz is set on a quest to turn his cat back to normal and to do so he is relentlessly approaching every character on the streets of this shady town, characters that make a talking cat look normal by comparison.
The demo is short and doesn’t involve real puzzles being rather focused on interaction with other characters through funny dialogues that lead Buzz and his cat in the right direction. Despite its setting and mysterious plot, Gibbous can’t really be taken seriously and this is highlighted from the first moments of the game. Every character acts silly no matter the situation, the level of sarcasm is off the charts and the interaction with the environment more often than not triggers goofy reactions from the protagonists. The dark humor is tasteful and the references to pop culture build up on the humorous value enriching the game’s comedic atmosphere. I’m usually into serious settings and plots but I don’t back off from well written satirical games and at the first glimpse Gibbous seems to be such a title. Yet, I do find the game’s fourth wall breaking jokes a little off-putting as their number is overwhelming especially for the short amount of game time the demo provides.
|He's quite chatty!|
While playing the demo I could spot various influences aside of those mentioned before. Wondering on the almost empty streets of Darkham I went back onto the memory lane to times when I was playing Monkey Island and Grim Fandango or even the brief time of my childhood when I was watching Warner Brother cartoons. The influences are many and the press kit provides more details, but my mind flew to those three.
On the technical part Gibbous looks great in a classic adventure game renaissance way with painted-like backgrounds and well animated characters powered by the Unity Engine. The characters are lively and fun to watch as their frame-by-frame animations are gorgeous and follow the comical tone set by the dialogues. The locations are rich in visual details and can be interacted with in a non-mandatory fashion as their purpose is to give more context. I had some problems with the frame rate at certain points during the demo, but it isn’t a Unity Engine game if it doesn’t come with those problems.
|I want to hop over the fence!|
|She is the definition of being weird.|
Gibbous aims to be fully voiced. The voice acting I experience in the demo seems to serve the game quite well by intensifying the humorous dialogues through well chosen voices that fit the characters’ weird personalities. The music is created through virtual instruments and this can be noticed rapidly by a keener ear. While the music does lack the natural finesse of real instruments the composed songs are befitting for the game with a vibe resembling old cartoons with an orchestral score.
There isn’t much else to say on this chapter. The sound isn’t at the same level of quality as some of the adventures we got lately, but I did appreciate the music and the voice acting as they are both in line with the game’s action.
|Not in the demo...|
|Ending with a commercial!|
After playing the demo I think Gibbous is a very promising game. It’s filled with old magic brought into the new and far more casual world. The demo didn’t feature any hardcore puzzles but based on the game mechanics I presume that won’t be the case with the final game. I love the puzzles in adventure games but this feature didn’t stand the test of time and using it is forcing the game into a niche corner. But Gibbous can surely overcome that with a comical storytelling and its intuitive gameplay, a tribute to Lucas Arts adventure games of a long gone past.
If you are not convinced or your curiosity has been triggered you can always download the demo yourself from the official website. The Kickstarter campaign has been running for 5 days now and the pledges reached almost 30% of the final goal. The future of the game is one-third secured and I do wish the developers best of luck with their crowdfunding campaign as I’m looking forward to play the full version of Gibbous and have a real chat with Cthulhu himself!