Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle Review

Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle is an adventure game that tries to channel the long dead spirits of classic LucasArts adventure games such as the Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion games. Unfortunately it tries a little too hard in the same sort of way a hopeless geek tries desperately to impress others by attempting to act cool, and the result is something only an adventure game diehard could love.

The game starts off with our heroes Brian and Gina taking a cheap tourist flight to a nearby island while vacationing in Hawaii. Things go spectacularly wrong when the pilot dies and Brian is forced to kick Gina out of the plane with their only parachute as he tries to bring it down on the island. Pulling himself unscathed from the wreckage, Brian sets off into the jungle to find Gina and your adventure begins.

All adventure games pretty much follow the same basic formula, so there are three areas in which a game can try to stand out from the others: graphics, story, and puzzles. Runaway nails the graphics portion with a great visual style that resembles a cartoon; not your standard throwaway Saturday morning animation, but one in which the animators put some work into the art. The locations in the game are all bright, colorful, and have a slightly whacky feel to them that lets you know you’re not in for an ordinary adventure here. Unfortunately, it’s in trying to craft this adventure that the game tries to hard and falls flat.

The game’s story is filled with clichéd characters, jokes that fall flat or make no sense, and forced attempts to be eccentric: “Look, there’s a mad scientist with thick glasses! Isn’t that funny? A mad scientist?” If you’re going to use stereotypes, you need to lampoon the stereotypes themselves and not rely on them for your humor.

Now on to the last element of adventure games: the puzzles. The puzzles in Runaway are all pretty straightforward and involve the typical approach of combining the items in your inventory and using them on the interactive objects in the environment. Thankfully the game does not try to make things artificially harder by hiding key items in the background and forcing you to sweep each screen pixel by pixel with the mouse. Instead the game finds a new way to confound you and add a layer of frustration to the game. Far too many times you’re forced to repeat actions in order to get a key item or to complete an interaction with a character to move the story forward. For example, early on in the game you search a hatch in the plane for useful items and are told that there is nothing else in there. Search again after returning from the next screen and low and behold the hatch now has something else in it that is critical in order for you to solve the current puzzle that you face. The same holds true for conversations – you may exhaust a conversation tree only to return and find that a new branch has been added several layers deep. I liked the game’s graphics, I could put up with the forced story, but this last problem completely frustrated me. I found it annoying to have to revisit old conversations or research areas in the hope that the game decided to add something new there the second or third time through.

If you’re a fan of adventure games then Runaway may be worth your time considering the dearth of titles in this genre. If you never enjoyed adventure games, then Runaway is only going to reinforce those feelings.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 65%. The Dream of the Turtle is not quite a nightmare, but it’s not a good dream either.


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