Episodic pointing and clicking ahoy!
Since Telltale started developing episodic point and click games, the genre has seen somewhat of a resurgence. E-One Studio now brings us the first chapter of their point and click adventure Hoodwink, which ends up being a solid start that leaves you wanting more. Hoodwink sees you play as professional thief or, as he prefers to call it, “acquisitions expert” Michael Bezzle. Michael steals an engagement ring from a detective in order to propose to his girlfriend, setting said detective on fire in the process, and so the story leading up to the actual proposal begins.
The game takes place in a world run by a company called UniCorp, who keep the people down while trying to convince them that they are actually doing good. The setting is dystopian and steampunk which works well together with the game’s cel shaded graphical approach. The slums look suitably grimy and the above ground, fancier areas look a little cleaner, although still somewhat grimy.
There are several unique characters in the game, from Michael to the hippy chick Saffron who makes her own products to ‘stick it to the man’ and Rubbish, the snooty rich man who has been brought back as a rubbish bin after dying by means of becoming a ‘second chancer’. A second chancer is someone who has died and has been brought back by putting their brain in a robot, another of UniCorp’s inventions. There are several other wacky characters you will meet as well. All the voice acting is pretty good, as are the cut scene animations. As you walk around you’ll get NPCs chatting among themselves. Unfortunately, they say the same things over and over again, so you’ll end up trying to get past them. Overall, there isn’t a lot of sound in the game, apart from the dialogue and the occasional music which plays when you change screens or views. The music itself has a nice film noir feel to it and adds a bit of atmosphere when it’s around.
The point and click mechanics are pretty standard, and the puzzles that you come across aren’t particularly taxing. There are also some mini games that come up, which involve things such as turning a crank several times to turn a fan on, or grabbing a bunch of walking roses to give to your girlfriend. The trouble is that there is some input lag from the mouse, which makes completing these mini games unnecessarily frustrating. The other problem is that double clicking to run sometimes doesn’t work, leading you to do it again. Navigating the world is a bit of a clunky experience at times, not helped by very janky camera changes.
Being episodic, the game isn’t particularly short, and you’ll beat it in under 2 hours. There’s no manual save option, though, and the game only saves at the end of each of the four acts. The acts aren’t long, but it can be frustrating if you quit only to go back to the beginning of an act. Also, you can’t skip or speed up any of the cut scenes, so you’ll have to sit through them all again.
Even though this is the first episode of a series, the story arc doesn’t seem to develop hugely. This episode mainly seems to just introduce the world and the major characters, but the way the episode goes makes you want more to find out what the story is with the various characters, and certainly there is a lot of promise here.
Hoodwink has some potential. The story and characters are interesting and the humour will raise more of a chuckle than a full on laugh. It’s a decent introduction to the point and click genre for a beginner, but veterans may find it frustrating at times, especially with the input lag leading to tasks sometimes taking longer to finish than strictly necessary. Despite it’s issues, there is still some fun to be had, but you’ll only need to play it once as you won’t miss anything.
Hoodwink is available for purchase on Origin