The best thing about reviewing games is that sometimes you get given a game that you’ve never heard of, in a genre you don’t particularly enjoy, and it turns out to be a damned good experience.
*Spoiler Alert* Demetrios is one such game.
Demetrios is a point’n’click adventure from French indie developer COWCAT that follows the adventure of Bjorn Thonen; a slob of an antique shop owner in Paris. The adventure kicks off in grand style; Bjorn comes home steaming drunk and gets woken up by a phone call warning him he is in danger because of an antique he has in his possession. The phone call ends and Bjorn is knocked unconscious and when he wakes up a tablet that the antique once held is missing – finding out why is this tablet so important is the driving force behind the games narrative.
As a genre, the point’n’click adventure has a rich history of having great protagonists (Manny Calavera, Guybrush Threepwood, etc.) and Demetrios can rightfully enter Bjorn into this illustrious list. He is an average Joe who works for himself, not through love or knowledge of his industry, but for the sake of not having a boss; he is a slob and he is awkward around women and children. His character traits creates most of the comedic moments in the game, and he is loveable from the first time we see him. Beware though for Bjorn is, as the title suggests, incredibly cynical and this is what makes most of the comedy.
For example, there are times when he makes reference to pop culture (such as Drathan Naked) and others where it delves into American Pie style gross out comedy (like the deflated balloon that is leaking on the carpet), and it could be offensive to some of you sensitive types. One thing the comedy never does though is overstep the mark, and it is consistently funny – which is incredibly difficult to do a game.
The art style is minimalised graphic novel style that fits the game superbly well – there are minimal animations, and every scene is beautifully detailed that can consume the player into looking at everything. This is actually highly recommended because the game is very much a pixel hunt, in almost every scene, there are key items hidden away that the player will need in order to progress the narrative. This could have been a problem on the VITA with its 5-inch screen. However, COWCAT have created a magnifying glass mechanic that when you hold your finger on the screen, it zooms into the left of your finger (so that it is not obscured from view. It made finding those items much less frustrating.
Point’n’click adventures are made by their puzzles (it is the core gameplay mechanic) and it is vital that the game creates an internal logic that can be applied to every one of them. For the majority of the game, COWCAT have achieved this; there are distinct and logical steps that can be followed from puzzle beginning to end, and it makes sense to the player. However, every now and again, I did get completely stuck because that logic had changed, and suddenly I was combining items in a very strange way. While this was never enough to make me turn in it off in frustration, but it did create roadblocks on my journey.
Thankfully enough though, there is an amazing hint system to help the player out; hidden throughout the world are cookies which, when eaten, nudge you in the right direction of the solution; without being so blunt as telling you the solution. This meant that even on the most difficult puzzles I was never stuck for more than 10 minutes. Combining the puzzle difficulty and hint system makes Demetrios the perfect starting point for the genre – you will never get stuck for more than 10 minutes, and it is satisfying to solve a puzzle that has been annoying you!
The issue with Demetrios is the loading times. You see, your adventure takes place in various locations, and puzzles require you to jump from area to area in order to accumulate the items you need…And that results in rather long loading times between areas (20 seconds plus) on the VITA. Furthermore, it slows the pace of the game to a grind at times. Nevertheless, in overall though it does little to take away from the game and its quality.
+ The art style is good
+ Genuinely funny
+ Good story with a great protagonist
– It is a pixel hunt
– Some puzzles rely on bizarre leaps of logic and it can be jarring as most are logical and makes sense.
– Long loading times
Replay Value: 3/5
“Demetrios: The big cynical adventure” is an excellent starting point for a genre that has been unfairly left to the annuls of the past. It is a funny, engaging and challenging game that will endear and offend the player in equal measure – the port to the VITA is an outstanding one which takes account of the system, and the difficulties that players will have (specifically screen size).
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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