A Golden Wake (2014)

The story and the setting of A Golden Wake is a novelty among games, that's something I'm very sure of; it's a game set in the world of post first World War, to be more precise, it's set during the real estate boom of Miami and you actually play as a real estate seller, trying to make your way in the cutthroat business. It also is an adventure game, not a business simulator. In a world, where a good deal of games are fantasy, sci-fi or action, a game set in the 1920's and in a business world without a good deal of number crunching, feels very much like a novelty to me.

Despite you play as a fictional character, Alfie Banks, you get to meet a good deal of real people who influenced in the Miami land boom that took place before the great depressions. The most notable probably is the actual brains and the architect behind the area George Merrick. There's also famous stunt flyers and journalists of the era as well as gangsters and all that jazz. But in all honesty, I didn't really know any of them, nor did the game's presentation of them made me really interested either.

One of the many real faces of the era, Doc Dammers, who later became the first mayor of Coral Gables
The best thing I can say about A Golden wake is, that it has an interesting idea, it just is that the execution of it lacks badly. The worst offender is, that it really isn't that well written. It's just a pastiche of the cliches: a young hot shot full of himself, a world that doesn't see his genius, people who use him thanklessly, jealousy, the gangsters and bootleggers and the great depression, laced with twists that really aren't twists at all. I could forgive the fact that graphically the game looks pretty horrible, but the poor writing I really can't. Alfie just sails from one stock situation to an another and the game never really manages to create any real arc of drama.

As said, the game also does look pretty bad. After the indie boom, a lot of designers have gone towards low-resolution art, as it's supposed to be more forgiving and cheaper than high-resolution art, but A Golden Wake just looks amateurish in all counts. The colours are murky and smudgy, perspectively seems like an alien concept and the characters speaking portraits look like a practise work for someone who is just learning to draw approximations of human shapes.

Another real face, a reporter and a writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
The voice acting is okay at best, but overall pretty forgettable, as is expected from a budget game like this. It's not the worst done for games, but nothing about it really stands out.  Musically the game fares better, albeit nothing in that area is groundbreaking either.

It really does sadden me, that A Golden Wake falls flat so badly. Personally, I've always liked the 1920's era setting and it's always interesting to see it popping up in games as well, from time to time. I'd just like it to pop up in a better light than this.

The best games set in the 1920's still are the two Laura Bow games done by Sierra back in the day. And both of them have better stories and are far better adventure games to boot as well. So instead of  A Golden Wake, just play those, if you already haven't. And if you have, well, I don't really know what else to recommend.

A Golden Wake is available on Steam and GOG.  And probably some other places as well.