Here we are on the Lords day and I gotta be honest, this is probably the first Sunday I’ve EVER spent doing anything remotely educational about religion. Adam Venture is back in his second adventure and this time he’s left the stuffy cave of Eden behind for the arid desert of King Solomons mines. The good news here is the second episode certainly improved on the issues I had with the first game, the bad news is it’s still overall not that much better than the first.
Game: Adam’s Venture Episode 2: Solomon’s Secret
Developer: Vertigo Digital Entertainment
Release: April 8, 2011
If you liked: Uncharted 3, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Bible
As this is the second episode in the trilogy and I’ve pretty much said my piece on the gameplay aspects of the game in the last article why don’t we do this a little differently. I’ll go over what improvements this episode made over the first, then I’ll discuss what issues still remain. Overall I do feel this episode is better than the first, so I’m still holding out hopes that Episode 3 could be more than just a middling adventure/platforming game.
Straight away this episode has corrected the one major issue I had with the first, that is the inclusion of actual enemies. Adam and Evelyn are captured by a shady group called Clairvaux who are collecting these religious artifacts for reasons still yet unknown. While they’re not Nazis they pretty much might as well be. For whatever reason this company has its employees dress in military uniforms, wear a non-specific but vaguely swastica-like insignia, and sort of just mill about guarding digging equipment. Either way there is at least a direct threat in the game now, though you don’t confront any of them directly and fight with them, you mostly have to sneak around them as best you can. The stealth mechanics are pretty bare bones, nothing amazing but it also doesn’t intrude on the gameplay like most games that shove stealth mechanics into their games.
The cast is also technically beefed up in this episode. Where the first game had just Adam, Evelyn and the Professor this one introduces a new villain and since it doesn’t take place in a cave actually has NPCs to interact with. From villagers upset at Clairvaux about cutting off their water supply with their digging to guards wandering about trying to find you there is at least more life in this episode than anything we saw before.
The puzzles in the game are also greatly increased. The first episode really suffered by relying too heavily on two simple puzzle types. Here the only puzzle that repeats is the lock-picking one for opening the bible verse chest collectibles and some really annoying disc spinning puzzles later on in the game. Other than those the puzzles are all unique and don’t simply rely on you solving a Sudoku grid. Most of them can be completed with just a little time given to think, there was only one that took me any real significant time to complete but none of them felt overly simple like in the original episode, nor were any obtuse like the TNT puzzle in the first game.
Once again the environments are probably the highlight of this series. Whoever did the environment and lighting construction in these games should be commended. The outdoor environments look beautiful with bright sun streaks coloring the sky while the indoor locations of Solomons temple look just magnificent. While the voice acting and animations are still stiff and middling the world the game takes place in is exceptionally well made and I’m sure that will remain constant for the next episode.
I think my biggest issue with this episode was the writing. While it’s nice they finally added actual villains and the story overall was good with a decent cliffhanger ending it is trying too hard to be funny. Adam was a little hammy in the first game but here he’s just kind of a dick. He makes jokes about not letting Evelyn drive the car because it takes a man to get them out of the mess they’re in. Adam is constantly falling through floors while trying to deliver cliché “hero” lines. Adam is a decent character overall, but the shift in his attitude seems unnecessary I can only assume this was done to make him more sarcastic and in line with a Nathan Drake style of character, but it just doesn’t work here.
This episode was also plagued with glitches which I didn’t have major issue with in the last episode. Episode 1 had some animation hitches here and there but nothing major. Here in episode 2 I had problems with objects disappearing in the world, leading to a hilarious cutscene where a guard drove an invisible car around. Another time Evelyn walked directly in front of a ladder I needed to climb and would not move and the game doesn’t allow you to push people aside so I had to reload the checkpoint just to continue on.
Overall this episode was improved, mainly in storytelling and puzzle types, which for this genre is the most important aspects. Glitches and a goofy character shift for Adam hold it back overall though and at the end of the day there still isn’t anything amazing here to recommend. There are much better games based on similar subject matter that you could be playing.