Shadows on the Vatican Act 2: Wrath

Shadows on the Vatican Act 2: Wrath

Alexander Tait reviews this point-and-click adventure for PC from indie developers Adventure Productions and 10th Art Studio

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Buy Shadows on the Vatican Act I: Greed for PC

 

Well, it’s been some years since I reviewed a game. Thanks to Shane for inviting me to review again! In the years since I participated in JustAdventure+, I’ve focused more on my film, which has culminated in my blog (trevanti.wordpress.com) of “Alex’s 10-Word Reviews.” So, I don’t know if I’ve hardened with age or from critiquing film, but I found this game lacking. It’s interesting to note that I found myself often saying to myself: if this were a film, I wouldn’t persist.

For a start, the menu and start-up is clunky. On two occasions reloading my game, the game decided my games weren’t good enough and deleted them! When I quit and restarted the game, the saved games reappeared but reloading them was largely unsuccessful. Incidentally, this especially occurs if you save in a timed-sequence. Frankly, I think if a game allows you to save mid-sequence, the engine ought to allow for this to occur smoothly or just prevent the player from saving --simple!

The game is point-and-click, and other than some timed sequences à la some old Sierra games, it’s all stuff you can take your time to solve. I’m not sure why but on my only slightly-outdated system the game ran somewhat sluggishly.

The graphics aspect of my PC is certainly the weakest but it can run far more graphically-impressive games than this looks to be. At times, you switch between the two playable characters à la Broken Sword. Again, the game is really slowed by clunkiness in design.

It would’ve worked better if the character switch had been automatic, as progressing in one character mode often necessitates completion of the other character’s story. The graphics are ok but nothing to write home about. Think a little more updated Broken Sword but without the creativity.

There are cutscenes that are sort of like animated comic books. These were apparently directed by Lorenzo Ruggiero, who is known for his work with Marvel and DC. The game has a resolution of up to 1920 x 1080.

This game has the most mundane dialog I can recall! And the characters never shut up. The acting is universally wooden and often incorrectly-inflected, as though the voice actor wasn’t sure of the delivery. To digress for a moment, Quentin Tarantino is known for the naturalness of dialog in film. It is very easy to forget that the players onscreen are actors. In this game, the dialog is insipid and laughable at times. There is no suspension of disbelief.

In general, the puzzles are straightforward “use the obvious item in the obvious place” type (as well as the timed puzzles I mentioned above. Some of the puzzles are downright crazy! SPOILER WARNING: at one point you are required to use a scalpel to open something that would not normally require it.

It is obvious the game has been translated from Italian. There are many typos in the printed word onscreen and on one occasion the text was in Italian. Of course, these are minor issues that detract marginally from the experience for only spelling sticklers like me. After all, I am a speech pathologist!

The storyline is basically a bunch of “go here, do something in a roundabout way” type. I think the writers were maybe trying for a Broken Sword feel but what they achieved was nowhere near the quality of that wonderful series. In fact, the game begins by expecting the player to have played Act I.

I was fairly confused so I recommend perhaps playing Act I first. It purports to be based on David Yallop’s “In God’s Name.” The protagonist was apparently a Roman Catholic priest but had a falling out and decided to become a doctor...I think. The game doesn’t make that so clear.

Overall, I found this a really contrived experience with poor acting and dialog. Puzzles didn’t often make a lot of sense. If it were a movie, I would’ve switched it off. Think Da Vinci Code, but instead of pain being inflicted upon you as that movie did, the events require you to trudge around drudging dialog and puzzles to extrapolate the story events. In a sense it forces you to inflict the pain on yourself. Very Catholic indeed.

Grade: C
 
- Saved games disappear, and reappear in a possibly corrupted state
-  A contrived experience with poor acting
- Dialog is insipid and laughable at times
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