Review by ploodie

"Slightly above-average for the genre - SLIGHTLY!"

If you are reading this review, then you are probably already a fan of this kind of game, and you're wondering how this one ranks with other in its class. Well, I'll tell you this - it's no classic, but I enjoyed my time with it.

I'll start with the positive - the game looks fantastic. Pre-rendered games usually do look great, and this one is no exception. What animations there are look great as well. Even on static backgrounds, you will see trees swaying and birds flying by - these touches bring the various levels to life, as does the ambient sound-track. The sound and the detailed view outside the windows of the moving train sequence come to mind.

SECRET FILES: TUNGUSKA includes all the best of what recent adventure-games have offered, including the helpful hints the character gives you as you click on various items, and the ability to quickly leave a room by double-clicking on the exit.

The game also features a new innovation to adventure gaming that I found quite welcome (at least, this is the first game I've seen it in). With the click of a button, you can instantly see all the "hotspots" of interest in single room. This eliminates the relentless "pixel hunting" that has been the bane of so many of these types of games. And this is an option you can choose to use or not, so if you prefer to go it on your own with the pixel hunt, you still can.

This, coupled with the ability to double-click on the area leading to the next scene instead of having to wait for the character to walk all the way across the screen really helps to keep the game moving. Too often I have lost interest in these games because back-tracking and searching for those hot spots can take forever. But thanks to this new innovation, you can really fly through the game.

Now, it isn't without its faults. As is par for the course with these games, the story is typical and only marginally interesting, comprised of the usual routine of a young woman searching for her missing father with the help of several characters who may or may not have her best interest in mind. The story plays off the "real" incident of a mysterious early 20th century explosion in the Tunguska region of Northern Russia - an incident UFO fans believe to be of extra-terrestrial origin. The story plays out in predictable fashion, and is neither outstanding, nor disappointing - it simply just is.

Voice-acting is typically poor, but the fault really goes to the game translators. This game was clearly created in a foreign country (Germany or Russia is my guess) and the English language translations can be downright hysterical at times. The actors deliver some real howlers, though I admire their ability to do so with conviction.

And, puzzle-wise, the game falls into the typical inventory mixing genre. You will pick up items as you go, simply because you can. You will then find yourself not sure what to do, at which point you will simply try to combine every object with another in your inventory until you stumble upon what the game wants you to do. And this will be your only option, since many of the solutions defy normal logic - such as spreading tuna on a pizza to attract a cat so you can strap a cell phone to it, then over-salt the pizza to force it to go back inside for water, where you can then overhear a phone conversation! Yeah, you'd have never thought of it either, but since you have all the items in your inventory, you will eventually stumble upon the solution by default. This does have the effect of making the game feel less intelligent and more about just clicking your way through a mediocre cartoon story.

My only other disappointment with the game was that it was packaged as a kind of a thriller, but the game retains the self-effacing wit and light-hearted humor of most of the games in its genre, and never really crosses into creep-out territory.

But, as a die-hard adventure game fan, I found this one to be on the upper end of the spectrum, if only because of the ease of the new "pixel hint" feature. If you've enjoyed third-person adventure games like BLACK MIRROR and NBIRU, then definitely give this one a go!


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/11/09

Game Release: Secret Files: Tunguska (US, 10/30/06)


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