Shadows of the Vatican – Act II: Wrath is a point and click adventure game. As you would think, it is poor in action and rich in story. It has the potential to be a fan favourite among lovers of the genre, but could not be further away from the mainstream (even if we are just talking indie here).
Point and click adventures have long been gone from mainstream gaming. This is – in my opinion – for a good reason: If you want to tell a good old fashioned linear story, then it is much more convenient to just write a book rather than build a whole game around it to make the “reader” figure out how to cross that river with just the rope, the umbrella and the pack of instant noodles in your inventory. Sure, there is some gameplay value in those kind of riddles, but it can be frustrating to be stuck in a game just because your own logic works differently than the developers.
In september 1978 Pope John Paul I. died after just 33 days of being the pope. His declared first goal as head of the catholic church and monarch of the Vatican was to bring light into the darkest of abysses of the Vatican bank, which to this day is said to be used by the Italian mafia to launder and hide money. Some say, that the announcement to end these practices was what ultimately made him reach his final destination rather quickly (I’m insinuating that the mafia killed him, in case you didn’t get it). There are numerous other conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Pope John Paul I. Some of which originate in Monty Python writer David Yallops’ book “In God’s Name”.
You might think it was uncalled for to drop this knowledge bomb on you, but this is the book, the story of this game is based (rather loosely) based on. So if you read the title and thought it was some kind of medieval game (like I did), consider yourself corrected. The story sets in right at the end of Act I., there is the dorky ex-priest James Murphy, that other killer chick (she really is a killer, I wasn’t describing her looks) and then there of course is the dead body lying on the floor of the apartment. At first you are playing Silvia (said killer chick), who gets confronted by James with the murder of said dead body.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but then there you go with the morbidly slow story. Artwork is fine, music – ok, just, dear 10th Art Studio, why not just write a book? Why do I have to guess how you thought it would be best to open cat food without a can opener before we can go on with the story? (Disclaimer: Totally made that awesome riddle up.) Also, even considering the low standards of the genre, the characters are just horribly rigged and animated.
If you love the genre, my guess is: You already have the game and you probably loved it. My next guess is: If you are the generation of indie-gamer who loves his fast-pace titles like Super Meat Boy and Electronic Super Joy, then you will not get the fascination of this particular way of telling a story.
The game reminds me of the games I played when I was in primary school. The few games that made it through harsh parental control and my parents – this was my perception at this time – had a real problem with fun. As soon as a game looked fun, I wasn’t allowed to play it. I would have been allowed to play this game. Definitely.
The following rating is for the people who are not in love with the niche that is point and click adventure games. If you want to spend £4.99,- on a great story that you can experience on a screen, try an e-book.
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