After experiencing a Golden Age in the 80s and 90s, point and click adventure games were largely abandoned by the games industry, left to gather dust in a basement somewhere. Now with the likes of Double Fine and Amanita Design bringing attention back to the genre, some of the spotlight is falling on a handful of other, notable adventure games. Gemini Rue is one such game.
Gemini Rue is a noir-ish, sci-fi adventure game. Stylistically the game is deliberately retro in both look and feel, harkening back to the aforementioned Golden Age, but with superb audio and full voice acting.
Beneath a Steel Sky is one obvious comparison, but if the general visual aesthetic doesn’t immediately put you in mind of Blade Runner (the film, or the Westwood game), then the Vangelis-esque music will. Where many times a piece of media will be forever stuck in the shadow of the art that inspires it, Gemini Rue is still original and compelling enough to have its own identity.
The game follows the twin stories of Azriel Odin, an ex-assassin turned cop who is on the search for his brother, and Delta-Six, a patient whose memory has been wiped at a mysterious Rehabilitation Centre. I’ll leave it there, because the less said about the story, the better. Figuring out what’s going on in the story is the best part of the game, so I’m not going to ruin it for you here. I will say however, that much of the philosophising about [redacted] near the end of the game might seem ham-fisted to anyone who’s read as much Dick as I have, but still works because of the way it relates directly to the game, the gameplay and the characters.
You begin the game in control of Azriel Odin, but soon enough you’re given control of Delta-Six, and you’re able to swap between the two characters at will. This isn’t a Day of the Tentacle affair, where you need to swap between multiple characters to complete a single puzzle, but it’s a clever way of giving the player a break from a puzzle they might be stuck on. From a narrative perspective it works better if you follow each character through to the end of their ‘chapter’ and only swap between them as the game wills it, but it’s still an interesting mechanic.
The puzzles are generally logical, though that doesn’t stop some design decisions from making the game frustrating at times. I won’t bother going into detail because it would be difficult to explain, and really, the puzzles will be par for the course with fans of the genre, but I will recommend that you keep a guide nearby for when you are completely stuck; the game’s story and setting are worth sacrificing a couple of frustrating puzzles over.
The voice acting is generally good, but I almost feel like the writing would have seemed stronger with no VA… or perhaps the writing was mediocre at times and the actors were just doing the best they could. Honestly, it could have been a bit of both, but neither the writing nor the voice acting were ever bad.
Gemini Rue is not perfect, and I certainly had my fair share of frustration with both the puzzles and some of the design decisions, but it does everything it set out to do, and it does it very well. Before Double Fine set the world on fire with their Kickstarter drive, Wadjet Eye games was one of the few studios keeping point and click adventures alive, and this pedigree shines through here.