Gemini Rue Review (PC)

Game Review: Gemini Rue (PC)
Release: February 24, 2011
Genre: Retro Adventure
Developer: Joshua Nuemberger  / Wadjet Eye Games
Available Platforms: PC
Players: 1
MSRP: $14.99 US (Download) / $24.99 US (Ltd. Ed CD)
ESRB Rating: N/A

Gemini Rue (originally titled Boryokudan Rue) was developed by Joshua Nuemberger, an undergraduate student at UCLA with music and sound design by Nathan Allen Pinard.  As such, the game was a winner of the 2010 Independent Games Festival’s Student Showcase.

The game has us in the shoes of two protagonists. Azriel Odin, an ex-assassin, and a memory-wiped man referred to as Delta Six.  Azriel travels to a rainy planet Barracus in search of his brother where he must seek the assistance of the criminal organization (The Boryokudan) from his seedy past.  Delta Six is somewhere on the other side of the galaxy, not knowing who to trust as he attempts to escape a reconditioning facility before losing himself completely to repeated memory wipes.  The two stories become intertwined as fate brings the two men closer together.  As Wadjet Eye Games describes it, Gemini Rue takes place in a “world where life is cheap, identities are bought and sold, and a simple quest for redemption can change the fate of a whole galaxy.”

This sci-fi film-noir mystery game is a fashioned in a retro 1980’s “verb box” point and click style.  In the first several chapters you play as only one of the two men, alternating every chapter.  Eventually it is possible to switch back and forth between the story lines which can be helpful if one storyline has you stuck at a particular puzzle.  Also in the beginning the two stories seem completely unrelated, but be patient, it will snap together later in the game.

An in game communicator device (read cell phone) handily keeps notes, names and numbers for you as they are incurred.  It also interfaces with information terminals scattered around in the environment, allowing info to be dragged and dropped between the two.  This really helps when looking up people and addresses in the database.

Combat is simplified to being in cover, being out of cover and being able to control your breathing so time head shots.  While combat is usually absent in point and click adventures, this shouldn’t put off any veteran adventure gamers.

Gemini Rue contains over 60 hand painted backdrops and more than 80 rooms – all which remind me very much of the Sierra On-Line adventure games of the late 80s.  The voice work is done fairly well and the music and sound design is superb.  The pop-up portraits of speaking characters and the blocky low-res graphics are sure to thrill retro fans as much as the gripping storylines.

Also included in the game is a DVD style commentary.  When turned on, reel to reel tape player icons will appear throughout the game giving insight into the development of the game as well as blooper reels from the voice over sessions.

Now for the downside; the point and click interface should be called the point and click, click, click, click, click interface.  Never before have I played a game that required so many interactions to do the most mundane things.  To get through any unlocked door it takes three clicks.  To do something like scale a wall it goes up exponentially – click on the crate, press the keys to move the crate to the correct position, press a key to climb on the crate, click a hole in the wall, select to use your foot on the hole, click on the wall, select to use your hand on the wall – and over you go.  This is of course once you have figured out exactly what needs to be done.  All of this un-needed, pace-slowing complication of every little task kills the pace of the story and changes this from a pleasant play-through to an exercise in futility.  It was very hard to stay in the game.

Even though this is an award winning student work – this is the real marketplace.  With a download price of $14.99 US it is overpriced for the experience – especially when compared to other titles available (on Steam for example) for the same money.  My advice is to download the demo and play it before buying this one.  You may find it to your liking – but I was disappointed.

  • Aimed at Retro Adventure Fans
  • Interesting DVD Style Commentary
  • Wonderful Music and Sound Design
  • Agonizing Click, Click, Click Interface
  • Overpriced

Final Score: 5 out of 10

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  • I have to disagree with the review. The story is by far its strongest point, and I had little trouble with the interface. Simply double click if you want to redo your last action. And, unless I miscounted, I believe there is only one scene where you have to switch between the foot and hand icon, and one scene where you have to switch between the foot and lockpick. Most of the time you can just double click your way through scenes.

    In fact, I really like how the game lets you fast forward walking by pressing ESC (although you can’t do it in the final parts of the game). My only issue with the game’s interface is that you actually need to click on something to open the inventory.

    This is my best purchase this year, completed in 2 sittings. The story is that engaging, and without mentioning of the game’s amazingly dystopian atmosphere and mood, the review does not do the game justice. It questions the very fabric of human nature, and brings out the worst in humanity, highlighting vices like greed and social apathy; and yet, its final message is that there is still some hope left in humanity. Simply brilliant!

  • Furthermore, I’d just like to point out the price tag issue. How is $15 a lot, for a game that provides a compelling story that engages the player for hours? Me, I went ahead and bought the CD version, and I still feel like I got my money’s worth. Okay, so it doesn’t feature cutting edge graphics (though it has a nailed the setting perfectly), and it doesn’t have a first person view, nor does it let you run around the streets killing random people. Doesn’t make it less value-for-money than games with twice the length, but thrice the filler (not gonna mention names).

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