Outcry Review

For a long time now, adventure and puzzle game have been redefining and refining themselves. They've headed in many different directions, and while games like Day of the Tentacle, Alone in the Dark, and Myst may have set these genres on their course, the paths that games take today are often unique.

One direction is that of the later Monkey Island games, the Runaway games, and the Syberia games. These games stick to third person, highly detailed and interactive spaces through which characters travel. They are heavily plotted and written, and are often as interesting for their stories as they are for their puzzles (sometimes even more so). Other games have gone in a more action-filled direction: games like Alone in the Dark, Dreamfall, and others follow this route.

Yet another direction is that taken by the later Myst sequels, and a long series of relatively unknown games that are very Myst-like. These games may have plots and characters, but the characters are hardly ever onscreen, and the plots are secondary to the mood and environment depicted in game. This means a lot of static environments, slide-show movement, and machine-based combination/permutation-type puzzles. And that means that this kind of adventure game can be made on the cheap by today's standards. In fact, there's a veritable cottage industry devoted to the things, led in the North American market by the Toronto-based Adventure Company.

Obviously then, a game in this genre has to be good to have a chance of standing out from the other low-budget puzzlers. Outcry, published by Dreamcatcher Interactive and The Adventure Company (and developed by Phantomery), tries very hard to be good, different, and memorable. It fails on all accounts, despite a potentially interesting plot and setting.

Outcry takes place in the early 20th century, when your character, a writer, is summoned to his brother's home in Maine. His brother claims to have made an amazing scientific discovery, but when our hero arrives, his brother is missing under mysterious circumstances.