By: Matthew Striplen
Ever wanted to play a video game version of a Dan Brown book? Me, too; and my first impression of Adam’s Venture Chronicles was a positive one. Adam, our protagonist, explores ancient temples, thwarts danger and exposes worldwide conspiracies to destroy the world. You know, the usual awesome stuff Dan Brown heroes do. As I continued playing, I began realizing Adam’s Venture wasn’t a Brown spin-off, but instead it’s an actual Christian game laden with many problems. There’s a lot to talk about here, so let’s jump in.
The controls are the most intuitive aspect of this game. Only a few buttons are used and thankfully, the developers did nothing to overcomplicate the basics. Everything is as it should be: easy to use and straightforward. No complaints here.
The biggest graphical problem (by far) is the multitudes of glitches. Luckily, none of them are game breaking, but they nevertheless seriously detract from the experience. NPCs will get stuck on objects in the environment and proceed to freak out Sonic ’06 style (for those of you not familiar with that game, consider yourselves lucky). Plus, the AI for your companion needs fixing, causing her to miss entryways and wander in the wrong direction.
The environments are the best graphical elements in the game with a huge amount of impressive shadowing effects. Unfortunately, not all environments have had the same care put into them. Certain areas appear blurry and extremely grainy. Another strike against the graphics comes in the form of character design. Adam looks stoned out of his mind in the cut scenes. In fact, his eyes are so uncomfortably bloodshot they actually creeped me out. His partner, Evelyn, looks noticeably better in the eye department, but her hair looks like bundles of straw glued to her head. By the way, did you see what they did with the names? Adam and Evelyn? Eh? Eh? Never mind…
Despite the graphical challenges, the soundtrack works pretty well with the exception of the voice acting. Much of the dialogue feels forced or lacks energy. The music is mysterious when exploring cryptic areas and exciting when facing danger. All in all, I liked the soundtrack.
Adam’s Venture Chronicles is, at its heart, a puzzler mixed with a few platforming and exploration elements. Additionally, this game is a compilation of three PC titles released earlier this decade, each now converted to an episode. Since several years separate each game, some stylistic differences become apparent, especially between the first and second episodes.
The first episode is the most lighthearted and least challenging of the three. Puzzles can be solved quickly and without much difficulty. The second and third episodes take their Christian messages much more seriously, designing a few puzzles around real Bible stories. These religious puzzles may require people not well versed in Christianity to look up a few things on the Internet. One of the most interesting aspects about the puzzles is that they are always presented without instruction. It’s up to the player to figure out what needs to be solved. While I like the idea, the execution was less than perfect.
Most puzzles fall into one of two categories: easy or nitpicky. One particular puzzle faces Adam with a family tree of David containing five names. Four stones with all five names are present in the room, and the player must select the correct name for each stone based upon its surroundings. I must have tried every single combination possible until I realized my flaw. During my process, I would change one stone at a time without bothering to double check the others since a name was still highlighted for each one. Turns out, the player needs to reconfirm each stone in order for an entry to be accepted. No indication of this necessity is provided, and the stones look identical in their confirmed and non-confirmed forms.
The script writing leaves much to be desired, as Adam drops one cringe-worthy one-liner after another. Many jokes come at the expense of Evelyn, specifically regarding the fact that she’s a woman. He continually reminds her that he has the brains and she has the looks, even going as far to insist he is actually complimenting her. Evelyn merely scolds his immaturity while Adam continues his degrading comments. The awkward juxtaposition of blatant sexism with Adam’s Venture‘s religious messages serves only to exacerbate the problem and distract from actual gameplay.
Adam’s Venture Chronicles also provides a good deal of content outside the game on the Internet. Adam will discover treasure chests containing codes to unlock special online only content. Additionally, the game provides links to a walkthrough, which is also listed on the same site. The walkthrough, however, is incomplete. Certain puzzles have multiple parts, and the guide sometimes only covers the first half. While nothing is wrong with providing a walkthrough, an incomplete one defeats the purpose altogether.
I’d never played a Christian game before and genuinely wanted to enjoy it. The first chapter outshines the rest by far, but too many flaws soon become apparent to warrant a good rating. The sexist jokes alone are enough to turn any modern person away from Adam’s Venture Chronicles, but, when combined with poor graphical and gameplay programming, I cannot in good faith recommend it.