Frankenstein - Through The Eyes Of The Monster
a game by Amazing Media, Inc.
In These Heady Modern Times. It's possible for scientists to grow replacement body parts for use in transplant operations. A gruesome example (in fact the only example I can, er. think of) is that human ear they grew on the back of a mouse in America recently. Presumably, just around the corner lies the prospect of huge organ 'farms' - fields full of lungs, legs and livers watched over by straw-chewing Farmer Giles types. It's a pretty disgusting concept whichever way you look at it. Having grown up in the countryside, I can remember spending many teenage evenings at house parties where amorous couples would sneak off into the field at the back of the house and roll around in the com together for a few tawdry moments. A little crushed vegetation seems to do wonders for the libido - I'm not entirely sure how romance could prosper should the lustful couple find themselves rolling around in a squelchy red mass of human flesh.
In Frankenstein (subtitled Through The Eyes Of The Monster), you play the part of a man framed for a crime he didn't commit - a grisly murder.
This is where the game takes up the plot. But this isn't quite the traditional Frankenstein story. Far from it. You see. this time round, the monster (ie you) isn't content to simply wander about groaning, roaring, knocking things over and frightening the children. Nope - you've been revived with all your memories and intellect intact. The logical thing to do is to set about trying to clear your name. This won't be easy since anyone who sees you will spend more time screaming than listening to your pleas for justice. Things are further complicated by the attitude of Dr Frankenstein himself (played by Tim Curry), a hot-tempered mad scientist type who doesn't want his greatest creation to go around whinging about a mistrial. In fact, he'd rather shoot you in the head than let you wander off into the village and show him up for the deranged nutcase he patently is.
As you explore the castle and beyond you'll find yourself struggling with all manner of problems, ranging from traditional adventure game quandaries (mucking about with lengths of rope, etc), to grisly scientific experimentation (bringing cold lumps of meat back to life). The whole thing is backed with a commentary explaining your innermost thoughts - running the full gamut from outraged expressions of anguish ("That bastard! What has he done to me!", etc etc) to quasi-philosophical musings about the dividing line between life and death. Your attempts to escape the castle are consistently hindered by the wacky doctor, played with relish by Tim Curry. His performance as the snarling, shouting scientist is of a far higher quality than is the norm in this kind of thing, so hats off to him.
The puzzles themselves require quite a bit of head-scratching, and even experienced questers will take their time in arriving at the end of the game. The storyline is cleverly structured, so that you begin the game without the foggiest idea about what you're actually supposed to do. but gradually work out some kind of definite plan. But despite its longevity, the sumptuous visuals, the decent performances and the novel ideas at work here, there's a catch.
Ah. The catch
And that catch is the interface. Now. maybe it's just me, but I found it bloody difficult to navigate my way through the locations. I'm not talking about the garden maze' section that crops up in the middle of the game (I think we're all fed up with poxy mazes in adventure games), I'm talking about navigating my way from one side of a room to the other. Frankenstein is a flick-screen affair, but offers plenty of different places to stand within each single location. The result was no doubt intended to make the castle and the rooms inside feel a bit more 'real' - in practice it's simply confusing. The very first room you'll explore, for instance, is actually a relatively small laboratory, but the multitude of viewpoints therein can make it seem like some kind of massive sprawling warehouse. Walking to a table in the corner and then back again won't be as simple as it sounds - each time you turn your head you'll find yourself looking at a familiar layout from a new angle, until eventually you don't have a clue where the hell you are. You'll probably spend as much time trying to get your bearings as you will solving puzzles. And that's a massive shame. It wound me up no end. Then again, perhaps it's just me being stupid.
This score then, reflects my reaction to the interface, and the interface alone. If things could be tweaked a little so that navigating your way around a single room was as simple as it should be. this would be a winner. As it stands, you could end up screaming in horror for reasons not intended by the programming team.
2018-11-07 Frankenstein - Through The Eyes Of The Monster game added.