Murder! Scandal! Jokes! All this and more awaits you in Knee Deep. The episodic point and click adventure in which the player takes on the role of three key characters who have gotten caught up in some deep shitake mushrooms. Prologue Games gives you many caps to wear, because not only do you take control of the characters—guiding them through conversations—effectively you are the director, writer, viewer and star of the Prologue Theatre’s Knee Deep performance. Everything you will be seeing is a play which takes place on a rotating stage in which the set pieces can be transported around from set to set.
The protagonists feature Romana Teague; the blogger with a silly attitude, K.C. Gaddis; the cynical private investigator who’s not had much luck on the job front and then there is Jack Bellet; the belligerent local reporter with a bad itch called his ex-wife. This trio cross paths due to the unfolding events throughout the game, beginning with the suicide of an apparently mediocre actor Tag Kern, which looks to put the swampland Florida town of Cypress Knee back on the map. Wonderland, Festival and Boomtown are the names given to each respective act of the performance. The first will have you explore Chief Roadside’s Wonderland, which thanks to some big corporations is now more of a rundown tourist un-attraction. In Festival, a rally is taking place themed around the upcoming election and is headlined by the two top political candidates. The finale takes you on a trip to the swamps as the fog of mystery lifts on the complex conspiracy surrounding a cast of shady characters.
As far as point and click adventures go, you’ll find this a lot more click than point. The gameplay is very basic and limited, and with every conversation you’ll have up to four answers to choose from at each opportunity. You are also able to click which character you wish to interact with, and that’s almost it. Throughout you will have the chance to play some mini games that help in development of the story ranging from a hacking game to whack-a-mole. These mini games help break up the monotony that is often seen in games of this particular genre.
The key feature has you choose which stories and news to post on a blog page or in a newspaper and whether you not you want to put a cautious, edgy or inflammatory spin on the headline and content of said news story. Whichever option you choose can influence other character’s feelings towards you, so if you post an inflammatory story about someone, don’t expect them to like you. I learnt that the hard way when a character berated me for having no heart, but I’ll live. There’s no difficulty or fail-state as the story continues and progresses, regardless of your decisions and the finale will be the culmination of all your hard work or silliness.
The choice of conveying the whole experience as a theatrical play lends itself to the overall look and art-style. The colour palette used is reminiscent of modern yet somewhat classic theatre stages complete with wooden floors, spotlights and metal rails to support each set piece. The sets look good and have a dose of character, through use of shading and some finer details, you can look and get a feeling for your surroundings and the characters you will find nearby. There’s some minor fine detailing on surfaces and characters but overall, the textures look kind of flat and rough around the edges, however in actuality I believe it doesn’t distinguish from the narrative. SkewSound provides the beautiful and atmospheric soundtrack that brings the whole experience together in a flowing storytelling trip. Not only are you treated to the blues, but also featured are more than 30 fully voiced characters that show off the different mannerisms and accents of the range of people who will cross your path.
Knee Deep is an experience that focuses on the narrative and substance over action and visual fidelity. A colourful cast of characters complete with voice acting is hand in hand with a smooth soundtrack, both of which are welcomed with open arms. If you’re a fan of the genre, then this game is surely one to pick up and will be a great addition to any game library.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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