The best thing about reviewing games is that sometimes you get given a game that you’ve never heard of, in a genre you don’t particularly enjoy, and it turns out to be a damned good experience.
*Spoiler Alert* Demetrios is one such game.Demetrios is a point’n’click adventure from French indie developer COWCAT that follows the adventure of Bjorn Thonen; a slob of an antique shop owner in Paris. The adventure kicks off in grand style; Bjorn comes home steaming drunk and gets woken up by a phone call warning him he is in danger because of an antique he has in his possession. The phone call ends and Bjorn is knocked unconscious and when he wakes up a tablet that the antique once held is missing – finding out why is this tablet so important is the driving force behind the games narrative.
As a genre, the point’n’click adventure has a rich history of having great protagonists (Manny Calavera, Guybrush Threepwood etc) and Demetrios can rightfully enter Bjorn into this illustrious list. He is an everyman who works for himself, not through love or knowledge of his industry, but for the sake of not having a boss; he is a slob and he is awkward around women and children. His character traits create most of the comedic moments in the game and he is loveable from the first time we see him. Beware though for Bjorn is, as the title suggests, incredibly cynical and this is what makes most of the comedy. There are times when he will make reference to pop culture (such as Drathan Naked) and others where it delves into American Pie style gross out comedy (like the deflated balloon that is leaking on the carpet) and it could be offensive to some of you sensitive types. One thing the comedy never does though is overstep the mark and it is consistently funny – which is incredibly difficult to do a game.
The art style is minimalised graphic novel style that fits the game superbly well – there are minimal animations and every scene is beautifully detailed that can consume the player into looking at everything. This is actually highly recommended because the game is very much a pixel hunt, in almost every scene there are key items hidden away that the player will need in order to progress the narrative. This could have been a problem on the VITA with its 5inch screen but COWCAT have created a magnifying glass mechanic that when you hold your finger on the screen it zooms in to the left of your finger (so that it is not obscured from view). It made finding those items much less frustrating.
Point’n’click adventures are made by their puzzles (it is the core gameplay mechanic) and it is vital that the game creates an internal logic that can be applied to every one of them. For the majority of the game COWCAT have achieved this; there are distinct and logical steps that can be followed from puzzle beginning to end and it makes sense to the player. However, every now and again I did get completely stuck because that logic had changed and suddenly I was combining items in a very strange way. While this was never enough to make me turn in it off in frustration but it did create roadblocks on my journey. Thankfully there is an amazing also hint system to help out the player; hidden throughout the world are cookies which, when eaten, nudge you in the right direction of the solution; without being so blunt as telling you the solution. This meant that even on the most difficult puzzles I was never stuck for more than 10 minutes. Combining the puzzle difficulty and hint system makes Demetrios the perfect starting point for the genre – you will never get stuck for more than 10 minutes and it is satisfying to solve a puzzle that has been annoying you!
The issue with Demetrios are the loading times, your adventure takes place in various locations and puzzles require you to jump from area to area in order to accumulate the items you need.
Demetrios is an excellent starting point for a genre that has been unfairly left to the past. It is a funny, engaging and challenging game that will endear and offend the player in equal measure – the port to the VITA is an excellent one that takes account of the system and the difficulties that players will have.
UPDATE: since publication of review I had correspondence with the developer who was surprised by the loading time issue!
A fresh install of the game on a different memory card completely eliminated the long loading times completely!
Upon reinserting the original memory card it was unrecognised – clearly the loading times were caused by a faulty card and not the game!
I have removed that criticism and added this explanation for transparency!