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Monday, September 22, 2014

Review - The Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure

May 8, 2014 saw the return of gumshoe detective Tex Murphy in an all new adventure. However, there was no break in continuity as the new adventure was directly tied into his last adventure. To those unfamiliar with Tex Murphy adventures, it's noir detective fiction with a healthy dose of cyberpunk, where you must solve the case by following clues and completing logical (and sometimes not so logical) puzzles. You must also select how you wish to interact with characters you meet along the way. These decisions affect not only the final outcome of the game, but also which clues you may receive along the way. These clues can make your job somewhat easier to complete... or not.

What sets Tex Murphy apart from other games, and accounts for some of its high price, is the use of live action cut scenes using real actors and actresses. In fact, if you of an age like me, you will assuredly recognize more than a few faces in this game. The developer used motion capture and state of the art digital insertions to create scenes that are more than realistic enough. I'd actually but the quality on par with the movie Roger Rabbit, though it is certainly no Avatar. The cut scenes are beautifully rendered in full 4k resolution, which was breath-taking on my 30 inch monitor.

One thing I've always enjoyed about games like this is how replaying the game, making different interaction choices as you go, can significantly alter the outcome and your game experience. After playing the demo, I went ahead and purchased the full game for $19.99 from Steam. It took me 16 hours to play through to the end. I was satisfied with the game, and many of the puzzles where gratifying to solve, but I was not at all pleased with where Tex ended up at the end of it all, even though I succeeded with the main mission. I plan on replaying and making some different choices to see if I can get an ending I like better. ;-)

I'll also say 16 hours is good, but I'd have prefered 40 hours on a single play through for the money I spent. And it seemed a little rushed at the end. I suspect this was done on purpose to provide a sense of climatic build up, but I would have liked an opportunity to stop the cut scenes and do a bit more exploring. Granted, that's not how these sorts of games work, but getting used to having that freedom at the beginning of the came spoiled me. No amount of beautifully done cut scenes can give that sense of being in charge of your own destiny like actually being able to make a choice - even during the climax. Still, it was loads of fun and that's what really matters.

This game was a kickstarter campaign. The creator of Tex Murphy, Chris Jones who plays Tex Murphy in the game, had no intentions of making another episode until a devoted fan base eventually talked him into the kick starter. That campaign raised $600,000 and made the reboot possible. I'm hoping the Tesla Effect earns enough money so a longer sequel may happen. I'd certainly be interested in playing more Tex Murphy, providing the price to time ratio is right.

And so you can see what the game is like yourself, here's the first part of the demo. It's got some spoilers in it, but just a couple. There are plenty of things left to figure out in just the demo, let alone the full game should you choose to acquire it.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d9V6gAxo3Y?rel=0&w=1400&h=875]

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