I was given a steam copy of the game Adios (not by the developers) and asked to take a look at it. I agreed with the caveat that I would post my real opinion of the game whether good or bad.
Adios is written in a 3d engine by a large team of around 20 people or so (including Xalavier Nelson, who runs Introcomp). As the steam description states, you’re a pig farmer who disposes of bodies for the mafia. When you tell your contact you’re done working for them, you’re told to change your mind or die. Since you character doesn’t want to change his mind, you spend your last day with your contact and on your own, preparing for death.
I had some thoughts first on interactive fiction and narrative graphical games that isn’t completely relevant to the game itself:
IF and graphical games
The vast majority of games I play are free text games, and playing this reminded me why. My laptop (a gift from family that I couldn’t afford on my own, but already showing its age) couldn’t run the game without freezing until I turned down the settings all the way. Having less money makes it difficult to run modern graphical games and to afford them. That’s one advantage text has: easier computer requirements and lower prices.
Having voice acting and character animations brings additional detail into a game, but on the other hand it makes it harder to put up and put down. My son and I have regularly scheduled play times during breaks so he doesn’t get bored from staying indoors all day, and I had to put one off because it’s harder to interrupt the flow of cutscenes than it is to just stop typing or clicking on a text game.
For me, I play text games not just for the story-based elements but because of their price range, portability, flexibility in interpreters/platforms, and ease of pick-up/put-down gameplay.
The game itself revolves around a list of tasks that you keep on a notepad which changes as the day progresses. You navigate across a 3d farm, triggering cutscenes as you go. Some cutscenes involve 3d work, such as a fishing minigame and a game of horseshoes.
The price point makes sense, even for how brief a game it is. I had the game on the lowest graphical settings, but you could tell that a great deal of work had gone into creating the farm environment. The audio was clear (although I always use subtitles) and acted well. Some of the interactions I found odd (like having a jump button that wasn’t used in game and didn’t make too much sense for an old farmer) and others were a little clumsy for me (not being used to unity games, I thought I had bugged the game scooping poop because my shovel was still in my hands at the end of the cutscene and I couldn’t do anything with it; I didn’t know which key dropped things). Compared to games with similar engines, though, like Bendy and the Ink Machine, I felt it was smooth and polished.
As for the story, it starts slow but worked out well in the end. I thought at first I wasn’t going to be into it, as it seemed to be a kind of generic slice of life, looking back at an old man’s life. But as the game progresses, you get more specific details about your character’s life which help to flesh him out much more. Especially near the very end when you deal with the final, most important things in your life and reflect on your motivations and decisions.
Overall, I think that the story itself with its menu-based conversation could have worked on its own as, say, a Twine game, but that the graphical elements enhanced the presentation and justify the higher price point.
Perhaps the one thing that didn’t work well for me narratively was some of the pacing. The game lasted about twice as long as I thought it would, because it builds up to what seems like a climax in the middle, then basically resets the tension and starts fresh on another arc of rising tension. The other main pacing issue was that the more complex minigames were reserved for the end. While that makes sense in skill- or puzzle-based games, in a game with a narrative focus having complicated and/or fumbling interactions at crucial emotional moments takes me out of the story. I would have rather had those near the beginning to help draw me into the game more when it was at its slowest narrative pace.
But these are not major concerns. I enjoyed this game more overall than the other narrative unity game I’ve tried, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine. In general, this felt like an interactive movie, about the same length as a regular movie and with quality animation and voice acting. If I was the kind of person that could afford to regularly purchase Steam games and had been able to purchase this, I would have felt it worth the $18.