There’s no denying that point-and-click games are somewhat lacking on console, and despite the fact that Artifex Mundi and Telltale are shovelling them out at a decent pace, there’s just not enough diversity. COWCAT (a one man developer) hopes to take things up a notch with the release of Demetrios – The BIG Cynical Adventure. The game tells the story of antique seller Bjorn Thonen who finds himself robbed following an unfortunate series of events, and then sets off to find the reasoning behind the theft. It’s a simple setup for what could have been a decent story, if only it wasn’t let down by almost every plot-piece that follows on.
I wont ruin it for you, but I will say this. Demetrios is a game that tries to be funny throughout a plot that fluctuates from beginning to end. The biggest problem on this front is that towards the end of the game the entire experience feels rushed, almost as though there was a desperate attempt to tie up the wavering story threads that were thrown in for good measure. Demetrios would have been a funny game, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it had be grinning at certain points of play, but much of the humour present in the game is based on wit that’s both dry and old.
Another downside to Demetrios is that the cast of characters that flesh out the adventure are as bland and uninspiring as they come. When you look at any single game from Telltale or Artifex, they at least have a diverse cast of interesting characters to engage with, but here, that’s an aspect that’s almost entirely absent. In fact the only single character I slightly gravitated towards was Caroline, the somewhat sadistic child of Bjorn’s neighbour. She at least made some of the encounters quite interesting, whereas everyone else (Bjorn included) is as forgettable as Yasai Ninja.
This is a huge landslide, because one thing that’s imperative for any point-and-click game is that it houses characters that you want to engage with. That’s not to mention the lack of voice actors. That’s right, your time with Bjorn will consist of reading countless lines of boring text throughout the seven hour ordeal. If there was one thing that could have pushed or even emphasised the humour, it would have been via a solid cast of voice actors, but beggars cannot be choosers, eh? Mercifully the accompanying soundtrack is at least passable, but that’s all it is, passable. Make of that what you will.
It certainly doesn’t help that the presentation is sub-par. I’m not talking visuals here, because if Demetrios has one thing going for it, it’s the well crafted graphics. What I am actually referring to, is the ugly text boxes that you’ll witness throughout the entirety of play. This may indeed be a small thing to complain about, but it goes to show how lazy the game design is when freakin’ text boxes are that plain they’re overly noticeable. Going back to the actual visuals, Demetrios houses enough variety and personality to stand out on this front, but that’s not enough to save it from everything else that’s dragging it down.
In regards to the gameplay itself, I found the experience to be fairly simplistic. There isn’t much of a difficulty curve to lean on, and much of what you’ll be doing is basic screen clicking until you find what you’re looking for. Some of the puzzles do indeed cause you to stumble, and if that happens, you can rely on the hint system to see you through. Unlike what you would find in your average Artifex game, you actually need to locate a cookie to earn a single hint. It’s a solid addition to say the least, as it makes you work for that helping hand, whereas other developers tend to spoon feed you with overly generous helping hands. On the flip side, if you collect too many of these, the temptation to just eat one (for me at least) was too hard to resist.
I have no doubt whatsoever that many will enjoy this for what it is, but if you enjoy your point-and-click games with a backbone and a plot that’s worth following, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. The cringe-worthy moments are just far too dominant, right up to the end game, in which you need to do something pretty intense that again, just feels out of place and out of context. It’s fair to say that the protagonist is an asshole that’s surrounded by assholes, in a game that’s as pointless as the story it attempts to relay. There are some qualities to enjoy within, such as the visuals and the passable soundtrack, but these alone are not enough to redeem or forgive Demetrios for all of its shortcomings. If you’re absolutely gagging for a new game of this type, and all you have to do today is watch paint dry, dive right in.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.