So normally I hate most reality TV shows with a passion; if I want to laugh at someone getting hurt for doing stupid things I’ll just go online since ‘people doing stupid things’ is the corner stone of the internet. So I was a little weary when I saw an indie game on Kickstarter that appears to be based off of reality shows but then I noticed the host was a dog and took a look. Poltergus is a point and click adventure birthed directly from the same line of games like Sam and Max, Monkey Island and Grim Fandango. A mainly story driven mystery where you click on things to make other things happen or just smash two things together until they make something actually useful. What I’ve been calling a dying breed for years now but more and more lately I find indie developers trying to bring back… most just aren’t that good. Telltale games and Doublefine have made a name for themselves designing what are basically point and click games lately, picking up where Lucas Arts was gunned down in the street ages ago.
Poltergus looks equal part humor and game though, something Broken Age seemed to miss somewhere. Observational humor cannot carry an entire game, you also need witty dialogue. While there isn’t much to see right now, which is disappointing, what there is makes me confident that Poltergus will not disappoint. It is a haunted mystery game though so it depends on how in depth the puzzles are as well; somewhere between Broken Age which puzzles were straight forward or The Curse of Monkey Island in which most puzzles made about as much sense as setting your own pants on fire. Since there are no details on that part of the game it is still anyone’s guess. I also enjoyed the use of cutaways and interviews in order to emphasize the fact that we are playing a TV show and to bring out more witty humor. While my film design days are well behind me I know how hard transition shots like this can be but are well worth it; if done flawlessly they could really go through the entire game with little to no transitions. The use of a 3D environment is interesting for a point and click adventure because it adds more space to work with but that depends more on how the controls handle.
What concerns me about Poltergus is the size of the actual game. So far we have only seen a few seconds of it and that doesn’t really mean a whole lot. For a design team that small to take on a project so seemingly large generally doesn’t bode well, far from impossible but a lot of problems can come out of nowhere. There is really no way of telling how long game time will actually be or how much more humor to expect from so little information. While I love the voice work they have already general sound seems like it will need a lot of work. I do like the art design, I don’t mind developers doing things their own unique way when it actually looks good because no one can compare to big name games in graphics anyways. Most of the information on the game so far seems to do with the premise, dog with his own television show researches and then frees all the ghost, dog loses tv show, dog starts new tv show, dog seems to channel inner Scooby Doo. I laughed a lot in the little clip of Gus just yelling in terror at a ghost while the ghost just looks at him like ‘really dude?’ I personally hope this game gets made because I’m very interested in the direction it’s going.