Wed 1 Sep 2010
Over The Edge is the first chapter in the four-part series, The Journey Down. Written and designed by Theodor Waern, the game tells the story of Bwana, a simple fuel station attendant attempting to get he and his sidekick Kito’s plane airworthy in order to take a strange and beautiful woman to the mysterious area known as “The Underland” by going over what is known as “The Edge.” If you haven’t already, prepare yourself for some incredible freeware adventure gaming.
Let me just get it out of the way right now, the game is good. Really good. Great even. It has that special adventure game magic that ties together every aspect of the design from the art to the puzzles to the music. It oozes quality. So right off the bat, you know this is gonna be a good one.
Let’s start with the story. In the world of The Journey Down, the powerful city power company has put considerable effort into keeping the citizens away from The Edge, including propagating terrifying rumors about what lies beyond and legally preventing anyone from even getting close to it. This drama doesn’t affect Bwana and Kito, two marina gas station attendants, until a woman named Lina pays them a visit in search of a book on The Underland called “The Journal of the Journey Down.” Once the trio locate the book, the lady reveals that she has been researching the forbidden land and eventually tells of her intent to journey there, but her first priority is to escape the agents of the power company in pursuit of her. To this end, Bwana is commissioned to retrieve the necessary parts for Kito and his airplane. The overall story is very well woven together, containing many interweaving themes. Bwana is a great example of a down-on-his-luck protagonist, having to deal with the challenges and threats of the power company and the immediate puzzle roadblocks. The rest of the characters are also well-rounded and memorable, especially the proud local fisherman who is afraid of mice.
Graphically, the game is phenomenal. Beautiful backgrounds, uniquely designed characters, and short segments with 3D give this game a truly wonderful aesthetic. There are dozens of locations and all show off the author’s incredible design sense. Clearly, a lot of thought has been put into proportions and perspectives of each room and each also contributes to a wonderfully unified color scheme. Furthermore, character interactions are spiced up by featuring zooms and camera movements keep long, important dialogs from feeling tedious. A wide variety of animations give the game polish, too, not just for Bwana, but even for secondary characters. The music also fits the game perfectly by featuring some catchy Reggae tunes that will be stuck in your head for days.
The puzzles are mostly inventory based, but there are a few curve-balls and all are surprisingly imaginative. Since the main goal is to find the missing parts to your airplane, you obtain many interesting items over the course, including chilies, a crab, a ceiling fan, and more. You’ll have to find creative solutions to the many roadblocks that face Bwana on his quest, but there’s certainly clear logic in most of the puzzles, the only exception for me being a very hard to find spice needed for a stew mixture that you’ll probably not find without either a guide or a lot of free time. That notwithstanding, the game is an excellent cranial exercise on the whole and will challenge you without becoming overly frustrating.
That said, it’s not without its issues. Despite having really catchy and appropriate music, there seems to be a shortage of sound effects; footstep sounds are noticeably absent. Also, Over The Edge is heavily reliant on character scaling in rooms with very deep perspectives, though it shouldn’t be distracting for fans of classic LucasArts adventure games. Some might prefer the gloriously drawn backgrounds to be put into a better view through a move to higher resolution, but it’s not distracting enough to be a significant fault.
Nevertheless, these are just nitpicks when considering how enjoyable the game was to play. You might correctly observe this review didn’t have many critiques, but the game simply came across so well to me that nothing should dissuade you from giving it a go. Very few medium-length adventure games hook me into completing them in one sitting, but Over The Edge accomplished just that. It may have seemed somewhat short, but that was only because I had so much fun playing it. I definitely look forward to the rest of this series and whatever else Theo creates. From the grand graphics, the sensational story, the powerful puzzles, to the alliterative adventuring, the first episode of The Journey Down is a must-play.
A wonderful concept well executed that is completely worth experiencing.
Drew’s Rating: 4/5 Starks
Drew Wellman made a game too, but it wasn’t as good.