The Descendant is an episodic game by Gaming Corps AB. It follows the Telltale formula, of point and click adventure meets QTEs. Now that the first episode is out, what did we think? And our we excited for episode 2?
The Descendant is really two stories. Set in the future, a hand full of people are chosen and put in cryogenic stasis in a number of underground vaults. One story follows a woman who’s job it is to watch over The Descendants in one vault, until such time that they can be woken. Story number two follows a man who is sent to the vault many centuries down the road, to discover it’s fate. The story switches back and forth between the two, giving gamers only small amounts of information at a time. By the end of the episode there are more questions than answers.
The Descendant has a solid idea. The two different stories present something rather compelling. You know something has gone horribly wrong, but you are only given so much information at a time. It makes you very curious to see what exactly happened, and what the fallout really is. However the execution doesn’t exactly live up to expectations.
Overall the episode felt very stiff and incomplete. Yes I realize it’s an episodic adventure, so there will be some level of it being unfinished. However, the game feels more like half an episode rather than a full one. It’s very short, easily finished in a quick sitting, with almost nothing given. Throughout the game you will have to solve one problem, otherwise gameplay consists mostly of walking forward.
The foundation of the story is so interesting, but nothing is really built on it. The intro to the game is short and rushed. Character development and conversations are non existent and even the world you are in can’t really be explored. It’s a very linear game, which doesn’t really fit in with the point and click style it’s attempting to achieve. I found myself just wanting more, anything more really. Instead I felt like I played the set up to a set up.
The stiffness comes in animation and voice acting. Nothing really seemed to pull together or feel fluid. Conversations were choppy, and wooden. Character movements feel very slow, and not exactly natural. It’s not horrible, it’s just not good. Looking at the animation detracts from the actual interesting art style that manages to come through in backgrounds. Audio being edited the way it is, undermines what is solid enough voice acting.
The one area in which the game really surprised me, was that you could fail at the one major task given. It is bad that there is really only one task in the game, but interesting that no succeeding at it is an option. Failure to complete this task makes you directly responsible for the death of at least a few of The Descendants. At the end of the game you are confronted with this, and the game shows you a short animation declaring that failure to do x resulted in the death of the following people. Failure actually being part of the game is really interesting. However you can’t have multiple saves, so there is no way to carry over and see the difference in episode 2 based on success or failure.
In spite of my overall disappointment I find myself still very excited to look at the rest of the game. I really do want to know what has happened in this underground vault. That’s what makes it so sad though. With a plot line that can grab gamers, it’s sad that gameplay detracts so much from it.
Episode 1 is not bad, but it is disappointing. The most positive thing I could say is that it’s a sub par set up to something that has potential. The game has a lot of work to do to live up to the groundwork they have, though if this is a model of what’s to come we are working up to a very forgettable, average, game.