A New Beginning
I am a fan of classic point & click adventure games. And as a fan of adventure games, I want to really like A New Beginning, but I can’t. Which is sad, because the story really intrigues me, but there’s just too many flaws that accumulate and are hard to look past by in a title of this genre.
The interface is very laggy. To interact with objects, you hold the mouse button, a wheel appears, and you select the action from that wheel by moving the mouse around and then releasing it. In theory that’s a nice system, but in practice the way it’s implemented in A New Beginning is very annoying. It takes like half a second to a second for the game to realize that you’re holding the mouse, and then there’s a half a second to a second animation of the wheel appearing. And this really messes with the game flow. You interact with a lot of objects in an adventure game, and check what contextual actions are available, so in a minute of gameplay approximately 15 seconds are just waiting for the wheel to appear.
And speaking of actions, the wheel doesn’t have a set amount of them, it depends on the object itself. Which is why it’s so annoying when there’s a ‘Take’ action on an object which exists for the character to say that he doesn’t need it (the fact that you’ve spent a whole second or two initiating the action doesn’t help). And you get this feeling that maybe in the future you’ll have to backtrack to take this object and you’re gonna be angry on the character for not taking it in the first place (I actually can’t confirm this, since after the location with this example we go to a flashback of the second main character, but if we won’t ever have to use a fishing rod and a fishing net in the game, I’ll be angry). And you know, an argument can be applied that it was an attempt to remove the ‘adventure game logic’, when you take everything with you and possibly solve puzzles before they appear, but considering that in a later section I’ve recharged a battery before knowing why I need it, I’m not sure that applies (also I still don’t know what certain objects in my inventory in later part of the game are for, I took them just because).
When it comes to ‘adventure game logic’, I think that gameplay flow should be a bigger priority than having everything make perfect chronological sense. Speaking of sense, there was a moment in the prologue when I needed to ask a second character for help. I had to ask her to hold a shutter so nothing would fall out from the fogger. But I couldn’t. I knew I had to ask her because as I failed to close the shutter and looked at it, my character said that he needs a second person to hold it before turning the fogger on, but the actual topic of the conversation with said person doesn’t appear until I actually try turning the fogger on (which leads to the exact same thought line, by the way). These kind of specific things in an adventure game are very detrimental to the experience.
Adventure games are usually very story heavy. And dialogue heavy. And most of them are quite linear. This problem is usually tackled in two ways. In adventure games with linear dialogue (without ability to choose topics), conversations are usually relatively short and to the point, so you can continue exploring and figuring things out rather quickly. And in adventure with non-linear dialogue, there’s, well, there’s all the topics to choose from, and you don’t have to go through them all, you might want to just select only the important ones if you feel like it (so even though overall you’re more passive in an adventure game, you’re still active). But there was only just one (and a half-ish) non-linear conversation during the parts that I’ve played. Everything else was just comic-style cutscenes which also really slowed down the pace – you had to wait for the panels to appear in a cool way before a line was spoken. Each panel animation is not too long in and on its own, but, again, it adds up. So A New Beginning felt more like watching a visual novel rather than playing an adventure game. And even then, the conversations are slow due to a considerable delay between each line.
And there’s also the fact that English voice acting is so monotone and boring that I would recommend to just switch to the original German (or maybe other translation that is actually good) immediately.
But what A New Beginning has really got going for it is the beautiful art style (although, admittedly, the quality of animations may vary from action to action) and a story that has managed to intrigue me, and I want to know how it all turns out in the end. This may seem like a very short point, but it’s actually huge, and plays a lot to the game’s favor. It will have to wait though, until I don’t really have anything else to play. Sadly, I don’t think A New Beginning is well designed as a point & click adventure game. There’s too much passivity, and gameplay doesn’t flow well at all. Maybe I’m missing out. Maybe further down the road things get better. And if they do, I’ll make another post. But as it stands, this particular adventure game wouldn’t be on the top of my recommend list.