I have a soft-spot for anything set in the pre-WWII era (pre-WWI specifically, but beggars can’t be choosers). Something about it seems romantic – a time before advanced technology and warfare, where the world seemed a bit bigger and had more to explore. Initially, that’s what caught my eye about Adam’s Venture: Origins - it seemed to have this air of old-timey British colonialism about it where stuffy English men went out into the wild yonder to pursue glory for the motherland. Not promoting colonialism by any stretch of the imagination, of course, but those safari pants, canvas tents, and tottering old men reading by dim firelight while exploring thing is totally my aesthetic.
Moving right along…
We open to find our hero, Adam Venture, napping in his father’s study at Oxford. It’s 2 AM, and they’ve been pouring over countless books for hours about…something. Adam is tasked by his father with finding his new assistant so that they may read the correct book, which they totally could have done sooner and saved everyone time. This does, however, serve as a short tutorial, as we are taught with on-screen text bubbles that the WASD keys move Adam forward and E interacts with various objects. As the first level progresses, we are taught other controls, such as running (shift) and crouching (cntrl). Wandering around the university eventually leads us to our father’s new assistant, Evelyn…wait, Adam and EVE-lyn? Can you guess where this game is going? That’s right; it’s a Christian game, which have, historically, been pretty terrible.
After a brief cringe-worthy exchange of corny conversation, Adam and Evelyn decide to team up and solve puzzles together in order to stop an evil organization called Clairveaux. They travel to varying sites of Biblical importance, including the supposed location of the Garden of Eden (get it? GET IT?!). Along the way they jump from platform to platform and solve elaborate puzzles that will eventually lead them to the place from which their namesakes were once banished. That’s…pretty much it. There are no baddies to fight, the plotline moves too fast without a lot of interest, and the overall character relations are tedious, making this action-adventure game less action-adventure than desired.
The characters themselves were kind of “tropey” in that Adam came off as a brain-dead explorer who tried to rely on his charm and wit to get by…unfortunately for him, he was neither charming nor witty. Evelyn plays the far more intelligent and often exasperated British bombshell assistant, which, again, is nothing new or exciting. Their chemistry is also extremely weak – their dialogue is forced and, quite frankly, canned and shallow. Upon meeting Evelyn, Adam walks up to her and asks if she’s seen his father’s assistant, assuming the person in question to be an older man. Evelyn corrects him and teases him for being wrong in his assumptions, and this only prompts cheesy apologies and flirts. Talk about something we’ve seen a million times before!
The voice-acting isn’t horrendous, but it definitely distracts the player.
The developers of this title are Dutch, which explains the voice acting issues: while the Dutch people (like most Europeans) usually speak English (amongst several other languages), they don’t always speak in the same tones native English speakers are used to. This delivery makes the English language sound strange, because while there is no accent, there’s bizarre emphasis on certain words or syllables that end up detracting from the game - think Heavy Rain, for example (Jay-SUHN! JAAAAY-sUHN!). So to English-speaking audiences, the voice-acting just seems weird and too distracting.
This game does have one or two saving graces; one is that the puzzles are actually pretty decent.
They’re challenging, but not overly so. You will never throw your controller in frustration due to not being able to solve the puzzle, but they’re no walk in the park either. Another is the aesthetic – now I know I’m a bit biased, but while the graphics were just average, the art style was actually kind of pretty. The developers put time into the environment and details; this definitely goes a long way.
One interesting thing about this game is how many random Biblical-themed one-liners they fit into the dialog. In the tutorial level where we find Adam walking around and looking for Evelyn, it’s drizzling rain (being jolly old England and all) and Adam casually mentions that “if it keeps raining like this, I’m going to need to build an ark!”. I didn’t clue in on the Biblical theme until much later, so until all that came together, the corny Biblical jokes were confusing and actually kind of annoying.
I wanted to like this game. I really did. The setting had so much promise and the premise, while not innovative, could have been something interesting. I almost feel like the developers took one look at the Uncharted franchise and thought that it had too much violence and not enough Biblical themes. I feel like they figured they could just take Nathan Drake, strip him down of any real personality, and center a game around him.
The boring storyline that moves too fast, filled with wooden characters spewing poorly-written-and-delivered dialog really bring down the decent puzzles and platforming. It’s a shame that Adam’s Venture: Origins couldn’t deliver, but you just can’t force a good game.