We played with Bill Tiller’s new iPhone/iPad point-n-click adventure game, Perils of Man, and it’s already looking like a gripping iOS thriller
Bill Tiller is a bit of a legend in adventure gaming circles, thanks to his background at LucasArts, where he worked on seminal point-n-click classics such as The Dig, Full Throttle and The Curse of Monkey Island. Now he’s turned his talents to a new iOS adventure called Perils of Man, a cartoony mystery that drips with intrigue and suspense – although you might want to hit your iPad’s ‘mute’ button.
It’s heartening to see the point-n-click genre, considered dead and buried just a decade earlier, enjoying a full resurrection on the trusty tablet. Perils of Man is the latest in a line of recent adventures (including Broken Sword, Gemini Rue, and the craziness of Year Walk) to emerge on mobile devices, and it’s a full, traditional take on the genre. We’ve had a play of the first chapter, and so far it’s looking very promising indeed – but can it elbow its way into the ranks of adventure classics?
You control Ana Eberling, daughter of a famous scientist who disappeared in mysterious circumstances when she was just a nipper. Living a lonely existence in the family manor with her rather batty mother, she spends her spare time investigating her dad’s disappearance, until a mysterious package received on her 16th birthday provides a vital clue…
From the very start, Perils of Man conjures up an intriguing story that drives you onwards. You’re treated to an ‘unexplained mysteries’ style clip during the intro, which sets up the father’s inexplicable vanishing, after which the plot is revealed in pieces through Ana’s musings and conversations with her mother, Nadia. It soon becomes pretty obvious that the Eberling family has a twisted history, as you explore every corner of the cavernous mansion (we love the obligatory gallery with portraits of Ana’s ancestors – if we had a house big enough for an art gallery, we’d probably just turn it into a bar).
Our Perils of Man preview session only lasted an hour, during which we brought a creaky old diorama back to life and discovered a secret elevator hidden in the family study. Ignoring the fact that Ana and Nadia apparently made no previous attempt to get the diorama working, for reasons unknown, it’s a solid beginning that does a great job of setting up the story and the characters.
Ana is a smart and sympathetic character so far, and just the right level of quirky to make her an interesting and Lucas Arts-esque protagonist. We got on less well with her mother, unfortunately. She blasts far beyond quirky into full-on mental head-case, from her rants about seeing ghosts to her outrageously eccentric accent. We eventually muted our iPad as her shrieking dialogue was akin to a dozen screaming babies sat on the back of a terrified jackal.
Still, the puzzles so far are keenly balanced, with typical adventure mechanics at play – pick up object, use or combine to progress. We also enjoyed a maths-based puzzle which took us back to our GCSE days, and there’s a nifty hint system in case you get stuck.
As for Perils of Man’s presentation, everything we’ve seen so far works really well. The environments are beautifully drawn, transitions as you move from one room to the next are seamless and satisfying, and control is perfectly realised for a touch-screen device. You simply tap around to move, and hold your finger on the display to highlight every hotspot, so there’s no frantic prodding of every inch to find that one clue you’ve missed.
We can’t wait to check out the full version of Perils of Man, when it lands in Q2 2014. From today you can download and play the first chapter from the App Store, and if you’re an adventure addict, we heartily recommend doing so.