Most games these days are hyped, marketed, and promoted, to infinity and beyond. From small scale productions to AAA titles, it’s very rare that a game hits the market without at least minor expectations from both journalists and consumers based on hands-on previews, early-looks, and the like. Iceberg Interactive and Vertigo Games released “Adam’s Venture” last week. The game has flown primarily under the radar but that didn’t stop Iceberg from priority shipping me a copy straight from their offices in the Netherlands.
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Developer: Vertigo Digital Entertainment
The game, available exclusively on PC, was built on the much-beloved Unreal 3 Engine and is episode 1 of the Adam’s Venture series, a tale of adventure, danger, and lots, and lots, of Christian themes. In the game you play as Adam Venture, an adventurer searching for the actual Garden of Eden, believed to be found in a mysterious labyrinth of caves where the four mighty rivers, Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Eurphrates meet. Adam, his girlfriend Evelyn, and a antique professor, make the journey deep underground and are the game’s only characters, if you don’t count non-tangible ones.
First and foremost, “Venture” is a third-person action-adventure, puzzle-solving game, that utilizes the keyboard exclusively, not even the mouse. The game is similar to that of Telltale’s Wallace and Gromit and Monkey Island games, only the mouse is absent in “Venture.”
Also worth nothing upfront is the game’s clear Christian agenda. The game prides itself on being non-violent, and this holds true to the very end. As Adam, you’ll never wield any sort of weapon. Rather, as you’ll have to use your mind exclusively to solve the game’s many puzzles. This pacifist approach is not a detriment to the experience whatsoever; rather, it is a point of excellence in the game. It was not until a few hours in that I realized I hadn’t victimized anyone in any way in the game. Violence, whether it be petty and comedic, or blood-soaked and heavy, is a mainstay in video games today, and Venture is refreshing in its lack of.
The game takes place primarily in an expansive set of caves and dark dwellings. For this reason, Veritgo Games decided to stick a torch in your hand at all times as your means of sight, and this works quite well plays into more than a few puzzles. Additionally, the game has some Uncharted and Tomb Raider aspects to it. Sequences of crouching, sprinting, jumping, a very intriguing first-person crawling mechanic, and hanging from ledges are everywhere in “Venture” and all the actions are executed very well.
The camera system in “Venture” is one of the better approaches I’ve seen. With all the lighting predicaments, cavernous area, and expansive environments, you might even excuse a camera system for faltering from time to time, but in “Venture” I never ran into a single issue with it. Additionally, the system’s excellence coupled with the third-person perspective allows for a great overall cinematic experience.
Venture is a tad on the easy side of similar games I’ve played, but, as a matter of personal taste, I very much enjoyed it this way. Save for a few occasions, I never felt angered at a puzzle I just couldn’t figure out. The game, marketed as a “family game” is indeed just that. The puzzles are rudimentary at best, but this fact allows the game to flow like a children’s book, from chapter to chapter, sequence to sequence.
Voice acting in the game wasn’t where I hoped it’d be. The characters are hardly memorable, and the lines of dialogue they speak are corny at best. Great dialogue and character interaction can truly cement a games excellence, but Venture just isn’t there yet. At the same time however, for a good chunk of Venture you’re on your own, fighting the spirits of darkness, and dialogue is scarce. The voice acting and characters in Venture are by no stretch of the imagination the worst I’ve seen and heard, they just need work.
Sound effects and the soundtrack of Venture also aren’t exactly great. Certain sequences do a decent job heightening the intensity of a situation, but generally, the game lacks in the sound department.
Visually, Venture looks terrific. It was built on the much-praised Unreal 3 Engine (the same one used in Gears of War games) and thus is capable of smooth running and gorgeously rendered environments. The environment artists could have lazily slapped the same texture on every cave wall and overflowing water spring, but they didn’t. The game’s many wooden bridges, caves of spider webs, flowing water streams, and much more pop with life, in a way I was not expecting. Additionally, Vertigo Games did great work creating main character Adam and the two others. Though, if you’re looking for different, Venture doesn’t have it. Adam resembles Commander Shepard from Mass Effect, Nathan Drake from Uncharted, and Desmond Miles from Assassin’s Creed, just to name a few. And Adam’s girlfriend, Evelyn, yeah, she’s the cute and concerned sidekick we’ve seen before. These aren’t detriments to the game, rather something I feel the entire community needs to break from.
Finally, and likely the make or break aspect of the game, is its clear and direct Christian roots. The story and its many elements highlight good and evil, as depicted by the Christian faith. Adam is constantly tested by dark beings telling him to “stray from the herd and become a wolf” and a primary part of the game is solving these quick little mini-puzzles where you must correctly arrange a jumbled bible verse. Now, I grew up, and remain, a member of the Catholic Church, so I actually knew many of these verses. But for anyone that doesn’t, they’re easily discernable. The game’s final puzzle requires you to recall, or re-learn, the seven days of creation, and piece them together in the correct order, and even I had a tough time with that one.
Blast Factor: Adam’s Venture has its flaws, but is generally an above average, and most of all fun to play, adventure game. The game’s cavernous environments look beautiful running on the Unreal 3 Engine, and for any Christian-gamer out there with a decent PC, this game has your name written all over it.
Adam’s Venture is available exclusively on the PC. A copy of this game was given to us by the publisher for review purposes.