Release Date: November 2010
Note: Originally published 25 Feb 2011
Futuristic themes in adventure games used to be a hit couple of years ago when games like The Longest Journey, The Moment of Silence, Perry Rhodan and Blade Runner flooded the market. After the theme moved to horror mystery this year, Alternativa from Centauri Production hit the market. I'd been waiting for this moment for awhile and hoping that this game would be better than similar games in the past. My hopes were raised further after I read that Centauri Production is a game developer in Eastern Europe. I don't know what it is with these Eastern Europe companies. They always make games with good stories and graphics. So when Just Adventure offered me Alternativa to review, I took it without hesitance.
This was the first time I'd used Steam Application to download and play a game. At first I was a little bit confused about how to use it, then after several tries I noticed how simple it is to do. Download and installation takes about 1 to 12 hours depending on your Internet speed. It is as simple as installation from a box. The problem with this kind of installation is you don’t have the installation file in your computer, so I don’t really know what happens if your computer crashes and you want to install the game again. Everything is done online. So if you’re not familiar with the system I guess the regular "buy the game at the store or online" will be better for you.
The first time I played the game I was very surprised because I did not see an introduction movie as in other adventure games. I thought I chose the wrong option or clicked the wrong button so I restarted the game twice but still could not see the introduction. Then I played the game for 10 minutes, went through several sets and voilà, the introduction showed up. This is brilliant and unique.
The world of Alternativa is a complex cyber-punk world set in the year 2030. At that time the world is ruled by two main forces: Endora and The State. The story of the game revolves around the life of Richard. At the start of the game, Richard is sacked by Endora and forced to give up his identity card. In that era, people without proper IDs are the same as dead.
Filled with rage, Richard tries to find a way to take revenge on Endora. He finds an underground organization called The Resistance which has been fighting Endora and The State since the great wars. With the help of a shadowy figure called NoName, Richard manages to get into The Resistance.
Things turn bad for Richard when he is accused of killing Prof. Petrenko, an important figure within The Resistance organization. With the police agents from Endora and The State chasing him, betrayed by NoName and even by his own friend Andy, Richard tries hard to find the real reason behind the killing of Petrenko. The story becomes more complex when the real killer of Prof. Petrenko sides with Richard. You have to race against time, travelling between various exotic locations from Eastern Europe to Brazil, to help Richard before everything goes chaotic.
The visuals are STUNNING and the cut-scene movies are well done. You feel like you’re watching Hollywood movies but you are in control of the main characters. The camera angles are so dramatic that you'll feel you're inside the environments. Some elements of the game, on the other hand, might not be suitable for everybody, especially for people under 17. It has very mature content consisting of rape investigation, cutting an eyeball from dead body and other mature subjects.
The inventory system is easy and intuitive. Moving your mouse to the top of the screen will open your inventory; clicking your left mouse button will take you anywhere on the screen; double-clicking your left mouse button will make your character run, and left-clicking on an object will open a circular action icon where you can choose between the standard action, talk and look icons. In your inventory, you can manipulate objects or combine objects to create new ones. A help system is available for those who want a little bit of help in finding objects. Clicking the ‘tab’ button on your keyboard will reveal all objects that can be manipulated on your screen. The escape button will open the game menu. You have only 21 save game slots but you can overwrite as many as you want.
Most of the puzzles are good and clever, except one that in my opinion is pure guessing. It is so illogical that trying to solve it might make you want to pull your hair out. It is the Endora’s back door entrance key code. Luckily, I found a walkthrough on the web so I could pass it.
There are two things related to object interactions and conversations that annoy me quite a bit. You have to go back and forth using the train or other transportation within the game just to ask something so you can move on with your progress. Come on guys, why don’t we just use a cell phone feature or something? That would make more sense. Unlike other adventure games, several items are accessible ONLY after you find information about them. This will add to your travelling time as well. So check previous locations again and again after conversations, even if you have searched a location thoroughly before. It might give you new items or solutions.
The background music and sound FX are high quality. It is very rare that an adventure game impresses me in those areas. The Longest Journey is one of those rare games but now Alternativa proves to be one as well. On the other hand, the voice-overs are mixed quality. The male actors are good but the female voices are poorly done. Andrea, the police agent and the raped woman are good examples of this. I don't think you should just translate a foreign language script word-for-word into English. It will make you laugh when you hear it.
There is a major bug within the game that could get you stuck. You can move, but can't do anything. This happens when you click the ‘tab’ button with the inventory window open. If the action circle appears at the top left corner then you are doomed. There's nothing you can do except load your last save.
Now we will talk about the worst part. You are given two options when you start playing Alternativa: High and Low Difficulty. In High Difficulty mode you are only given two chances to redo conversations before you have to restore your game completely, and you will not be given any hints on solving tasks. In Low Difficulty mode you can redo your conversations as much as you want. Either way you will die if you make wrong choices during conversations.
The developer of the game might have wanted to make the player's experience more intense, but to me this is just plain annoying. Death from choosing conversation replies should be banned completely from Adventure Games. InAlternativa, you should use the save game feature often because you can easily die.
The game's note feature is completely useless. Why do we have note feature if we're unable to review all past information? You can only see two or three of the most recent notes when you use this feature. That is silly.
Even with all of the flaws I've mentioned, Alternativa still stands out as one of the best adventure games in 2010. It has a great complex story, a great environment and an interesting plot. The game's ending could be a setup for a sequel; a lot of questions aren't answered completely. Just don't listen to the bad female voice-overs, forgive the annoying deadly conversation, and forget the back and forth task solution. Save your money starting now and get ready to play one of the best games in 2010-2011 ( depending on where you live ).
Final Grade: A
Windows XP ® or Windows ®Vista
Intel Pentium IV ® 2.0 GHz or compatible
2 GB RAM
Graphic card with 512 MB RAM (Shader 2.0 compatible)
Hard Drive: 2 GB free space
Sound: DirectX 9.0c ® compatible sound card