An old fashioned point and Click game in a constantly raining sci-fi dystopia? What is this Bladerunner?
Actually it’s Gemini Rue and I review the noirish shenanigans for SquareGo here.
The traditional Point and Click adventure (P&C) once reigned as the definitive king of the PC gaming genres. In the heady days before first person shooter porn took over, companies such as Lucasarts were churning out A-list titles with alarming regularity. They tended to fall into two categories, the action P&C, such as Beneath a Steel Sky or Darkseed and the comedy P&C games, like Day of the Tentacle. The main difference between these types was that in the action games, you could fail or die. The comedy games only constrained you with the difficulty of the puzzles. Recently there has been a massive drop-off in the genre, with only some smaller indie titles and episodic oddities such as Tales of Monkey Island cropping up to fill the void.
Gemini Rue is classic Sci-Fi Noir, taking definite cues from old detective novels and Bladerunner-esque retro-futurism combined with a healthy dose of paranoia, corruption and violence. This is far more akin to the likes of Beneath a Steel Sky‘s twisted Nazi-influenced dystopia or the bleak horrors of Overclocked: A History of Violence. Being the original work of bedroom programmer, Joshua Nuerberger, was written over several years before winning the IGF Student Showcase in it’s original form, then titled ‘Boryokudan Rue’. This prestige thankfully led to it being picked up by Wadjet Eye Games and getting this spit n’ polish and a full price release.
The game takes place on both the planet Barracus, a rain soaked grimy industrial city, and a mysterious institution called Center 7 where a man referred to only as Delta 6 has his memories erased for attempting to escape. We soon learn that the man in question is the lost brother of ex-assassin turned cop, Azriel Odin; who, in seeking his own redemption against the Boryokudan (a mishmash of the Mafia and Triads), is attempting to rescue him. All of which is set against the background of a recently ended civil war across the galaxy. Needless to say, Azriel’s past keeps returning to haunt him. The game has the sort of dark narrative cues that draw heavily from French science fiction films such as Le Jetee or the epic cartoon space opera Les Maîtres du Temps with which Gemini Rue shares some common story ideas.
The game has the feature of letting the player switch between D6 and Azriel at any time, picking up one storyline when the other becomes too tricky, or just to add variety. As such, the contrast between the sanitised Center 7 environments and the filthy city keeps the interest up. The controls are straightforward enough: with inventory icons letting you use your eyes, mouth, hands and feet contextually. It is however, very cumbersome that the inventory can only be opened by clicking on a usable background item. Pleasingly, the player can access large amounts of background history through the citywide terminals, although this is not necessary to completing the game. There is also a shooting mechanic that may prove problematic to some players, although the shootouts adds a nice change of pace.
If Gemini Rue has a major fault, it lies in the fact that it’s painfully linear and quite short. Often with the characters unable or unwilling to do simple things. This is offset by the fact that a ridiculous amount of in-game actions revolve around kicking things, a point that almost becomes a running joke even within a game this short. That’s the other snag, you could easily power through Gemini Rue in a couple of hours, as the puzzles will either stop you dead or seem simple, but it’s a price happily paid if you miss seeing these sort of old school adventures lovingly recreated.