Developer: E-One Studio
Publisher: E-One Studio
TL;DR: Apocalyptic point-and-click without the puzzles
Family Friendly?: Click here for more info
The prospect of a film noir themed point-and-click game set in a post-apocalypse East Asian city sounded like an astonishingly original notion for a genre which is just beginning to find its feet again thanks to the success of games like Limbo. Hoodwink does an extraordinary job of displaying the immense talents of the art department, but I’m sad to say that the game’s a little thin behind the shiny velour. Though that velour is backed up by some delightful jazz, so it’s not a total exercise in frustration.
The presentation of Hoodwink is glorious: the cel-shading is beautifully done, the menus are themed like a ’50s radio, the environment is mysteriously dingy, and the idle animations are a smooth touch. In addition to this the dialogue is humorous and when you first start up the game not only are the mechanics easy to learn, but they function really well. You’re dropped into what looks like a detective office and as you search the room you don’t need to walk to an object to look at it, the inventory is easy to access, and it has the really special feature of changing your perspective on a room to show items you couldn’t otherwise use.
It’s after the first puzzle that the game’s mechanics start to give up on you. The hints that were previously helpful and unintrusive become bothersomely regular and irrelevant. Pointless elements on the screen get in the way of things you need to click on, with no way of changing the perspective. Some puzzles consist of little more than clicking on an item and triggering a cutscene where all the puzzle solving is done for you. The coup-de-grâce was where the solution to the final puzzle was to click on a small area of pixels non-stop for about two minutes. If that doesn’t give you RSI I don’t know what will. Combined with glitches in dialogue and music the game ceases to be charming and you’ll focus more on the faults than the dynamic backgrounds and intriguing anti-capitalist theme.
I feel like a save system would have been more appropriate than a checkpoint system, because I got frustrated with not understanding where to go, so I’d quit the game, and had to pick up from further back than where I left off. When I did figure out what I was doing (with the help of currently useless areas being locked off) I enjoyed the peculiar character I was playing: he’s proposing to his girlfriend after only two months. This spontaneity along with his rapscallion ways make him a genuinely fun hero. Especially when he’s pitted against the police and a highly intimidating masked man. I was really looking forward to the prospect of figuring out who this chap was, why he was after me, and whether the girlfriend had been honest or not. But the game ended prematurely. I’ve heard of “leave them wanting more”, but after spending £15 you might feel mildly miffed.
I’m very unsure about one thing in the game: the secondary characters. The background chitter-chatter will begin to annoy you after a while but more than that I felt uncomfortable being around it. The East Asian accents are comical in their exaggeration, and while I should make it clear that I’m accusing nobody of racial insensitivity (after all, the writer and much of the team behind the game are of East Asian descent), I felt like I was in on a joke that I shouldn’t be part of. Because of my discomfort I failed to find it humorous and instead felt guilty for finding these characters annoying. It’s the only part of the game’s setting which I didn’t find fascinating and enjoyable.
There are many smooth elements of Hoodwink: the graphics, the pun on the main character’s name (Michael Bezzle), and the brilliantly inventive term for humans living on in a robot’s body(a “Second Chancer”). Unfortunately, all of these elements and more, including the well made opening puzzle, fail to make up for what is beneath the exterior an unchallenging and therefore unadventurous point-and-click adventure game. However, ignoring the game part of Hoodwink, you have to congratulate it as a project to display the marvellous artistic talents of the team at E-One Studio.
- Gloriously beautiful cel-shading effect
- Endearing main character
- Perfect choice of music
- Easy puzzles; sometimes finished for you
- Tiresome mini-games
- Rarely helpful hints
Not a whole lot here to offend the kids, a little cartoon-ish violence and some subtextually adult themes. 12+ to edge on the safe side.