Reminiscent of the mid 90s point-and-click adventures on PC, The Secret of Retropolis brings fun and nostalgia to virtual reality in a film noir setting.
Remember Grim Fandago on the PC all those years ago?
Well, The Secret of Retropolis is like an evolution of that game, brought up to date with virtual reality.
I used to love these games; Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max, to name but a few. I’d sit for hours trying to solve the puzzles and enjoying the humour.
And that’s exactly how I felt whilst playing The Secret of Retropolis.
The background to the game is that humans became extinct long ago but they left behind robots that behave like humans to preserve their legacy.
You play as a robot private investigator that drinks booze, smokes cigarettes and makes wisecracks every other sentence, just like you’d expect from a film noir detective.
The storyline is engaging and does just enough to keep the game interesting, however, it does lack some depth to the plot or characters. Saying that, this is perhaps expected from a game in this genre, where the puzzles are the driving force.
The game mechanics are very simple and intuitive and shouldn’t cause any difficulty for anybody, even players new to VR.
After the cinematic introduction, you are brought to your first location and must interact with your environment to move on. Once you have solved the puzzles in your current location, there is a cutscene as you move to the next location and so on and so forth.
This makes the game feel very linear and that your choices (particularly those during dialogue) are not terribly important – although there is one conversation that can make a difference to how the game ends.
In each location, your robot character remains stationary )he says he’s too lazy to move) but he does have telescopic arms, which means that everything is within reach. This makes the game an ideal option for those that prefer sitting experiences.
To progress, you must guide your robot to interact with the environment, using items with the scenery or each other to solve problems.
The puzzles themselves are fun but not too challenging and some players may find the game too easy.
I’m totally torn on what to say about the graphics.
They’re not high quality and have a low frame rate, which can make the animations a bit dodgy at times. But they fit in perfectly with the cartoony film noir theme of the game.
So, I guess on a technical level the graphics are not so good but from an art and design perspective they are wonderful.
I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of audio in this title.
Smooth jazz music plays throughout – I’m not a jazz fan but the original score is perfect for the film noir theme. and I found myself enjoying it immensely.
Sound effects are not too common throughout the game but where they are used, they work well.
But the voice acting absolutely blew me away! The guys they got to record the voices of the characters have been cast perfectly and bring the game and storyline to life. And I must say that the dialogue is brilliant, too, so kudos to the scriptwriters.
Despite having a lot of fun and entertainment value, sadly the ride does not last long – in fact, for me, it was over in less than an hour.
When it ended, I was perhaps a bit more disappointed than I should have been but I guess I was just having such a good time that I didn’t want it to be over.
It can be played through a second time (there are two different endings) but replayability is severely limited once you’ve solved the puzzles once.
I can’t not recommend this game as it brought me back to my youth and I enjoyed every minute of it.
But it felt too short and if I am paying a tenner for a game, I expect a little bit more. It felt more like the first act of a longer game than a full game in itself.
For what it is, it is fantastic, but sadly there is not enough of it!