Developer: Tag of Joy
Publishers: Thunderful Publishing, Headup
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $19.99 USD/$28.95 AUD – Available Here
The golden age of point and click adventure games is long gone but it doesn’t mean that some developers aren’t trying to bring the genre back. Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit is only Tag of Joy’s second game. It is inspired by classic adventure games such as Broken Sword, which is in itself a good thing since these games set the groundwork for what a good adventure game is. But the danger of inspiration is to simply copy and paste the formula without adding anything new.
The main character Milda receives a letter telling her that her grandfather died and that she inherited his house. The thing is that she lives in the United States while the house is in Lithuania, Europe. She doesn’t have enough money to travel there and if she doesn’t go within two weeks the house will be auctioned. But thanks to the help of her friend Dana, she can go to Lithuania.
When she arrives at the house, someone else is already there. That person escapes before she has the time to see who it was. A bit later, she receives a threatening call asking her for documents, but she has no idea what they are. After looking around the house, she does indeed find some strange documents. She then makes research on them and learns that her grandfather as well as her father have ties to the old monarchy and the KGB, a security agency dating back to the Soviet Union.
I found the story to be engaging and well written. It featured a good mix of mystery and humor. The main characters were funny, endearing and it was enjoyable to interact with them.
What’s also interesting about this game is the historical aspect. The game was partly funded by the Lithuanian council of culture and Creative Europe Media, which helps explain why the history of Lithuania is so important in the game. It also is a sign that the history the player learns is based on real knowledge.
I liked the historical parts. I was genuinely curious to learn new things, and I think video games can be a good way to learn even when, like it is the case here, they are not educational games. What seemed even more interesting to me is that Lithuania isn’t the most well-known country in the world and even I, a European, didn’t know much about the history of that country.
Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit follows the model of a classic point and click adventure game which means that the player has to collect objects and talk to characters to solve puzzles in order to progress in the story. By clicking on the mouse wheel, the interactive parts of the map are highlighted making it easier to know which character or object the player can interact with.
The difficulty of the puzzles was well done overall: they weren’t too easy nor too difficult, and the solutions were mostly logical. I only encountered one issue which was that Milda’s phone doesn’t notify the player when there’s a new message. The game does have an audio cue when Milda receives a call or when she writes important information in the notes app but none for new messages. I’ve been stuck in a game on multiple occasion only because I didn’t notice that I had a new text message. This is even more regrettable since it’s a very easy thing to fix.
While the game clearly takes inspiration from older games of the same genre, it still has its own identity. A very interesting feature is that at the beginning the player can choose Milda’s job, and this will impact how to solve some of the puzzles. This increases the replayability of the game if someone wants to play through all three routes: photographer, psychologist, and programmer.
The characters are in 3D while the backgrounds are in beautiful hand painted 2D. This allows the game to run more smoothly and the mix between 3D and 2D looks good. The player can change Milda’s appearance a little bit, but it is only limited to switch to her hairstyle and her clothes.
Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit is fully voiced in English which is very appreciable. The voice acting is of quality. The voices go well with the characters and the actors are good. When it comes to the music, it is varied and in accordance with each of the locations.
Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit took the best out of older games but also added its own personality into it. It doesn’t feel just like a copy of another game; it has its very own identity and a great one at that. This is a must play for any fan of the adventure game genre. The ending was sort of open and some of the questions were not answered hopefully hinting at another entry in the series.
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