Point-and-click adventures have seen something of a renaissance in recent times. Back in the early days of video games, this genre was one of the biggest around. As systems became more powerful and able to handle fully animated characters in a 3D space, they gradually disappeared. Indie developers who were brought up on these games, though, have brought the genre back from the dead. The latest point-and-click adventure to hit Xbox One is The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1 – A Dreadly Business.
It’s a setup
Set in Victorian London, Bertram Fiddle is an explorer and detective (though, not a very good one). When leaving his house, he bumps into a stranger and they accidentally swap bags. After a brief chase, he realises that the stranger is the notorious ‘Geoff the murderer’. This marks the beginning of his quest to not only find the dastardly felon but to retrieve his bag. You do this by solving various puzzles and lots of pointing and clicking.
If you are unfamiliar with point-and-click adventures, then this game eases you into the genre. Firstly, the game tells you what to do in the first scene. It doesn’t stop there, though, whenever you hold ‘A’ it will show you the things you can click on. This really helps to guide you and stops the game from being a random clickathon to see what works. There are still puzzles that will leave you scratching your head but it makes them seem possible.
The story and the style
The whole story is completely ridiculous but in the very best of ways. It is rife with sarcasm and British humour. It revels in its absurdity and quirky characters. There are a couple of well-known characters thrown into the mix. This is handled well and adds to the story rather than sticking out or dragging it down. As you will be able to tell from the title, this is only the first episode of the adventure. It does finish sooner than you would like and leaves you wanting more.
The visuals join the story in being quirky and a little absurdist. It’s very bright, bold, and highly stylised but fits the tone of the story perfectly. The 2D look never feels inhibiting. If anything it seems just right for the adventure taking place. Animations are basic but smooth. Clearly, most of the work on the visuals has been done on the art design. This is a good thing, though, as with such a quirky story, the characters needed to be that too. Obviously, there is never really anything to push the power of the Xbox One. What is here runs nice and smoothly, though.
Short but sweet
Content-wise, there’s not that much here. The entire story will only take you 60-90 minutes. That may seem short but for a game under $5, it seems fair. There’s not much reason to go back and play through the story other than for achievement hunters. Be aware, there are two achievements earned during chase sequences that are worth 200 gamerscore each. If you mess them up, you will have to play all the way through the game again to reattempt them.
I had a blast with The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1 – A Dreadly Business. While I confess that I’m not a point-and-click aficionado, I think there’s enough here for fans of the genre and those who are new to it. The story is full of wit and humour. It really helps to elevate the story from being intriguing to something entertaining. I enjoyed spending time with Bertram and most of the ancillary characters. The only question now is, where is Chapter 2?