Demetrios: The BIG Cynical Adventure is a point-and-click visual novel style game. It is already available on PC, PS Vita and now the Nintendo Switch.
The game follows the main character, Bjorn Thonen, on a quest which starts after he is robbed one evening. Bjorn lives in Paris, and apparently robbery it isn’t all too uncommon, so it is not of immediate concern to the police. Therefore, he starts his own investigation, also managing to reel in the help of his new neighbour, Sandra.
The two core components of the game are the visual novel style story parts, and the point-and-click puzzle sections. The relationship between the various characters is strange, and it’s often difficult to tell whether they actually like or dislike each other. But these interactions are as funny as they can be baffling, making for an entertaining narrative. The humour is evident even just in Bjorn’s comments and quips about the objects you interact with in the world.
Humour is a main motivator in Demetrios. When you choose to start a new game you are asked “Do you like toilet humour?”. This gives you some insight into what type of game it is going to be. The comedy is at times juvenile, and occasionally on-the-nose. Though the jokes are often puerile, that doesn’t make them bad. It suits the game well, and is the main reason for its charm. It’s a pretty amusing game, from fourth wall breaking, to both following and subverting regular game tropes. The game is aware of itself, and pokes fun at itself, but not in a self-deprecating way.
Demetrios is not voice acted like many visual novels are, but surprisingly this never felt like something was lacking. The music is good, though at times a little repetitive, and sound effects are used when relevant. Voice acting may have worked well, but isn’t required, and reading along at your own pace is just fine for this game.
In terms of gameplay, Demetrios is one of the few games where you may actually want to die. Each death is logged, so you can see the various ways you died, as well as the number of deaths you missed out on. It’s a ‘collect them all’ of ways to die. If you want to, you can do another playthrough to witness any deaths you avoided the last time.
There are no penalties to dying, so the games actively encourages you to die as many ways as possible, even awarding a trophy for viewing every death. This means you can try out every bad idea you can concoct, without having to fear the consequences. This pushes you to follow bad ideas that you know won’t end well. And be surprised when some of them actually do.
As well as deaths, there are other things you can collect in the game. During your adventures you are able to find hidden cookies. There are three on each screen, and again, this acts as a ‘collect them all’ feature. There’s an extra bonus to collecting these trophies, as well as just the sense of achievement and a handful of trophies, as these cookies are used for in-game hints. Any time you are stuck, or not sure how to proceed, you can eat from your stash of collected cookies to get a hint. If after one cookie you’re still not sure what to do, you can eat another, and so on, each progressive cookie giving you more direct hints.
There’s actually a large variety of puzzles in the game. Pleasingly, it is not repetitive, as many in the genre are, and each puzzle you have to solve is different to the last. Although the main traits of point-and-click puzzle games remain the same: solving puzzles and collecting items in your inventory which you can use and combine; the puzzles themselves are refreshingly different.
You’re also able to earn points throughout the game which allows you to unlock “extras”: music, artwork, and mini-games. The mini-games are those found in the main game, allowing you to play them as and when you want. If you really enjoyed the plate-shooting carnival game, for example, once you unlock it you can play it to your heart’s content. It’s never expressly explained how you gain these points, but after one playthrough there were more than enough to unlock everything.
Control-wise, it was great to be able to use the touch screen to control the game on the PS Vita. You are given the option at the beginning of the game to use either button or touch controls. Too many games ported to the Vita don’t make full use of the touch screen, so it’s nice to have that option. The touch controls felt natural, being able to touch an object you want to select or use works very well, and perfectly fits with the point-and-click genre.
Overall, Demetrios is a fun game which isn’t entirely predictable, and is a novel and welcome addition to the visual novel/point-and-click genres.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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