The adventure genre has been picking up a lot of traction lately with Daedalic Entertainment and a number of other publishers bringing humorous and well thought-out games to the PC market. While A New Beginning came out quite some time ago internationally, we in North America have been eagerly awaiting its release. Looking to invade Valve’s Steam platform, this beautifully crafted story and art house style looks to scratch your adventure game itch.
One of the better aspects of A New Beginning is its story. While it can be a bit preachy about using up all natural resources, melting the polar icecaps, and destroying Earth through human ignorance and greed, you feel a bond between characters, and even the world, that a lot of games fail to establish. It has a good setup of the human race nearing extinction, so a remaining civilization sends a number of people back in time to try and stop past catastrophes. The characters evolve through the story, properly accepting their roles and feelings towards certain situations. It’s actually interesting to replay the game from the start and see the rather stressed out and uncaring hero, Bent, change into someone who could possibly save the world. On the other hand, the heroine of the tale, Fay, barely changes as she continues her soft-hearted approach to every situation, but plays her role well as a future time traveller who doesn’t understand life and motivation in the past. Adventure games are always about their storylines and A New Beginning has a solid one that’s populated with interesting characters and surprising twists.
This really wouldn’t be an adventure game without puzzles – and there are a lot of them. The entire game is made up of going between a number of areas (usually one to three) and putting two and two together. While there are some logical and understandable puzzles, there can be some illogical, or rather poorly explained, ones too. For example, one situation calls for the player to lure someone out of their post, but to do that, they need to get a group of protesters to chant a specific phrase that has the vaguest context the head of security takes as an insult to being bald. Don’t be surprised if you become stuck for quite some time. It’s also to note that this is a relatively long experience. Clocking in between eight and twelve hours, depending how good you are at solving puzzles, the game has a lot of bang for its buck considering it’s released at under ten dollars.
If there’s one thing Daedalic Entertainment has don’t magnificently is created an absolutely gorgeous game. A New Beginning contains a strong graphic novel aesthetic to all its cutscenes, but it’s the beautifully rendered 2D artwork that brings the world to life. Daedalic’s previous releases of Deponia and Edna & Harvey had a similar aspect but overemphasized color and Saturday morning cartoon humor. The tone here is a lot darker as it complements the rather dire storyline. The backdrops are drop dead gorgeous and the character models have a much more realistic style to them than we’ve come to expect from the developer. The mixture of early 80s haircuts and futuristic technology somehow goes well together. It also helps the aesthetic that the music in this game is perfect with a sensational orchestrated soundtrack that goes beyond expectations. The only negative point I can find here, though, is that the game doesn’t contain any widescreen support. In this day and age where 16:9 is a standard, it’s disappointing to see such a beautiful game lack basics such as this.
While there are a number of high points, A New Beginning isn’t without its faults. The big issues here mainly revolve around the translation and overall adaptation into English. Firstly, the voice acting is bad. I’m well aware adventure games tend to have a tongue and cheek tone to them, even in the direst of situations, but the voice acting here is flat. There are a couple of well executed characters, such as the easily accepting journalist Oggy, but the rest feel awkward and void of life and emotion. It certainly doesn’t help that the dialogue isn’t all that well written, even with its sci-fi roots, and voices will sometimes cut off unexpectedly during conversations. I even found multiple occurrences where the dialogue, whether clicking on something or trying to mix two and two together, would come up as a different language. In one playthrough I found Russian, German and Italian where they shouldn’t have been.
The second issue is that I ran into a higher volume of bugs than I’ve come to expect with most adventure games. I had a scene that would play over again when re-entering the room and a strange glitch that would teleport me to the opposite side of the map if I came too close to a specific item in the world. There was even a time where the interaction wheel popped up when it shouldn’t have and locked my mouse in a set location with no option to get out of it. Having to navigate to your computer’s task manager through only keyboard controls isn’t hard, but isn’t something you should be doing with a game.
A New Beginning – Final Cut comes down to aesthetics and presentation over gameplay and translation. If the mediocre script, stale voice acting and occasional buggy gameplay is fought through, a strong storyline filled with beautiful artwork and a masterful orchestrated score will be found. It’s a back and forth battle, as it’s an enjoyable experience, but one that falls short of the adventure game and technological standards many have come to expect. If there was only a little bit more polish, A New Beginning – Final Cut could have been a unforgettable adventure.
Platform: PC (Steam)