Runaway: A Twist of Fate PC DVD
Published by: Focus Home Interactive
Developed by: Pendulo Studios
One of the more interesting adventure game series in recent times is Runaway. Beginning with Runaway: A Road Adventure and being followed by Runaway 2: Dream of the Turtle the series has focused on the crazy experiences of both Brian Basco and Gina Timmins. Both were great games with a good sense of humour. If I am being truthful here Runaway 2 was slightly disappointing in that the game felt shorter and didn't come to a satisfactory conclusion. Well with the third in the series, Runaway: A Twist of Fate is finally here to bring the whole thing to its conclusion and it's another adventure game worthy of your attention if you're a fan of the genre.
A Twist of Fate begins in quite a surprising fashion with the funeral of Brian Basco. Fear not however, as all is not as it seems but nevertheless it certainly gives you a bit of a jolt. Without trying to spoil the game's storyline it will have to suffice to say that Brian has been framed for the murder of Colonel Kordsmeier but Brian has no knowledge of committing a murder, in fact he seems to be suffering from amnesia and has been committed to Happy Dale Sanatorium. During the early part of the game you'll alternate between controlling Brian in the sanatorium and Gina who is trying to prove that Brian is innocent. The storyline is both interesting and enjoyable. Pendulo Studios have given us some truly humorous characters, particularly in the sanatorium, and the storyline has some genuinely hilarious moments. Keep a look out for a character known as Gabbo who has a penchant for saying "Banana!" at the end of virtually everything he says.
In some respects A Twist of Fate is a traditional adventure game. The game uses a point and click interface that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played adventure games. You'll have to do some combining of items in your inventory in order to solve some puzzles but it's not something that's overused or ever becomes cumbersome. The puzzles are satisfying and mostly logical, there are no simplified block-pushing puzzles to solve here, and there are maybe only a few that could have you stumped. Should you ever be stumped you can press the F1 key to bring up the included hint system. The hint system is actually very useful and spoiler free as it tends to give you gentle hints to solve the puzzle rather than simply spelling it out for you.
I think it's fair to say that A Twist of Fate is the best looking adventure game I've played so far. The game has retained the almost cartoon-like appearance of the previous two Runaway games. The cut scenes are particularly impressive and are certainly much better than those in previous Runaway titles (and indeed in most other adventure games). There are some glitches however. Towards the end of the game Brian climbs through a window and half way through the animation he suddenly finds himself climbing through a space in the alleyway. Still there are no serious problems here and the presentation for the most part is very impressive.
Runaway: A Twist of Fate is subtitled and you'll be able to enjoy most of the dialogue in the game. I say most dialogue because unfortunately there is some dialogue that for some inexplicable reason isn't subtitled. There also aren't any visual clues for important sounds in the game. This combination of missing dialogue and no visual clues for important sounds can certainly be a problem. One particular puzzle could be nigh on impossible for deaf gamers unless they happen to glance at a walkthrough to figure out what's going on. Earlier in the game, with Brian still in Happy Dale Sanatorium, there's a puzzle which requires a radiator to be broken. The basic idea is to damage the radiator without alerting the orderly to what you're doing. Brian initiates a conversation with a fellow patient named Quickle. Quickle likes to have a rant and at the end of his rant will thump the wall for a while. Hearing games will realise that these thumps on the wall will cover the noise of Brian's attempts to damage the radiator but deaf gamers will be oblivious to both Quickle's dialogue and his thumping on the wall. For this reason alone the game has earned a DGC E rating.
Runaway: A Twist of Fate is an enjoyable conclusion to what has been an impressive trilogy of humorous adventure games. Taking the game on its own merits, I would say this is one of the best adventure games I've played in some time. There are some generally funny moments here and the storyline as a whole moves at a brisk pace and the puzzles, whilst wacky at times, are mostly logical and enjoyable. The inclusion of an inbuilt hint system is a nice idea and works well on most occasions. Some may find the game a little short in length but that argument could be countered by saying that there is no filler here. At no point does the game bog down and become tedious and it's certainly impressive for it. So what's the next big thing for Pendulo Studios then seeing as the Runaway saga is no over? Well as it happens it's a game called The Next BIG Thing and if Runaway: A Twist of Fate is anything to go by, it can't be released soon enough.