There is a famous evil creature in the sci-fi show ‘Doctor Who’ called a “weeping angel.” In the show, the angel is a stone statue posing with its face in its hands as if crying. But when you look away for a split-second… or even blink… it attacks. In a similar way, playing Cateia Games’ 2014 adventure title “Where Angels Cry” with careful attention to detail will result in heartbreak.
I am cast as a mysterious monk charged with a special mission: Uncover the truth of the recent death of a certain ‘Brother John’ and investigate the reports of a strange angel statute that has been seen weeping blood-red tears. Along the way, I encounter other monks and some Templars who either help or hinder this mission.
The game play is standard adventure style with a mix of mini-puzzles along the way. Clicking on specific items in the scene either adds them to my inventory or brings me closer for more detailed interaction. Some items can be combined in my inventory and even used in different scenes to unlock new areas. I was never a fan of adventure games, but “Where Angels Cry” got me hooked.
The lure of any good adventure game is the story, and my story unfolded with all the plot twists and shocks of a well crafted mystery. I uncover power struggles, murders, heartbreaks, supernatural occurrences, even dabblings in forbidden arts. I never lost track of the plot for a moment, despite some clumsy writing here and there.
But that’s the rub. The devil is in the details and if you pay attention to the details, you will stumble upon the occasional badly-written dialog, logic flaw, and plot hole. Without giving the story away, the plot holes are small and few. But the logic sometimes seems ludicrous at times. For example, a character who committed a crime has been found hiding in a nearby town. When I confront him, he spills his entire crime and confesses to everything without knowing who I am. That does not seem like someone who is trying to hide.
Other logic flaws are more practical in nature. Such as the need for a bucket of water to solve a puzzle. Looking for a bucket, I proceeded to the kitchen of the monastery and find a bucket in the lower left corner of the scene. Clicking it does nothing since it is only part of the scene artwork and not an interactive item. The real bucket is found outside, in an alley, behind a food cart. But don’t worry if you think that gives away anything… There are a few buckets of water needed as the story progresses.
But the puzzles are the payoff and rightly so. These gleam with careful design and thoughtful engineering. Most are challenging enough to keep my trying several times in a row. Others are a bit obvious. And only a few are bland cookie-cutter imitations of stale puzzles long overused.
The artwork and interface is on par with a good indie game; realistic textures, 3d rendered scenes, and attractive ui elements. In fact some of the graphics are so good, I tried to light a torch in my hand my clicking it on the rendered torch on a random wall and poof; my torch was ablaze. However, some elements are not as impressive, such as the 3d characters. One character I encounter looks so badly proportioned that his right arm seems to be jammed into his shirt like a Ken doll part.
The the worst part of the game experience was the voice actors. All voices range from pretty cheesy to flat out obnoxious. But the mother of all voice crimes is the single female voice actor. Give me a moment to explain why. When developers need voice actors, there are three approaches;
- Hire actors and use in-house studio and audio producers,
- Pay voice studios to provide professionally recorded and produced lines of dialog, and
- Contract a do – it – your self voice actor who is willing to record their own voice in their own home and send it to you.
Of these three, the later is the cheaper. And of these three, guess which one this developer selected. Hint: independent developers have notoriously small budgets. When the female voice appears for the only two female characters in the game, the audio switches instantly from crisp clear sounds and dialog to audio that sounds like it was recorded in someone’s empty closet. All detail in the audio is gone and the hollow sound makes such a sharp break in the mood of the game that I lose all focus of what I was doing or even what she is saying. Sadly, this is unforgivable.
The one reason I disliked adventure games to start was the lack of replay value. Once you go through the story and uncover the mystery, there really is nothing left to do. Most games have tried to fix this by incorporating multiple storylines and side quests. But the most WAC gives me is a slightly higher challenge and awards for completing the game in a certain amount of time.
I did enjoy my adventure through the monastery and the end was rather satisfying. But the annoyances I picked up along the way made me glad to come home.