Investigator (2016)


Investigator (2016), developed and published by AdroVGames

Investiagtor isn't a very good game. Not because it is pretty much just a walking sim, albeit with a couple of little puzzles in it, but because it fails in what the best games in the genre succeed: in telling a story that is involving rather than just mishmash of jumbled ideas leading nowhere.

The story begins simply enough by Tom, a former detective, telling how in 2050 the world went to hell in a turmoil of a massive climate change, which made Earth wet, dark, cold and gloomy. He's travelling towards a place where people still live in some degree of comfort, protected by the military. The road is long, so he does need to make a pit stop and seek refuge from the rain, so he won't freeze to death in his little boat.

So he lands on a little island and finds a couple of cabins there as well as some signs of habitation. While there are lights on and fires burning, there is no one to be seen. The world being what it is, he still decides to spend a night on one of the cabins, especially because there's a nice sleeping bag there. And this leads into the first nightmare scene, in which you just walk around a dark, gloomy, derelict of a building, trying to find your way out.

And there are giant spiders around.



After a while Tom wakes up and heads back to his boat, but before that he witnesses a plane crash, which then amounts to absolutely nothing, as there seems to be no one in it. So time to head out, he says and that he does, all the way to another little island, where someone is asking for help. But that someone takes Tom as a prisoner.

Here it is revealed that the man imprisoning Tom happens to be a father of a girl, whose murder Tom wasn't able to solve, so this was the point where I thought I was onto what kind of a story symbolic quilt and regret Investigator was.

So again Tom needs to escape after which he finds himself from a frozen forest. As cold isn't nice, a shelter is again the best option and it doesn't take long for him to stumble upon an old factory of some sort, from where he finds a decent cabin, some wood and matches, which make a nice fire. That done he journeys on to find an abandoned car that is in working condition but needs gasoline, which he finds nearby. So onwards he goes, only to crash his car near an evacuation centre.

From this centre, Tom finds a soldier, who helps him a bit, but then it's revealed that he's the brother of the man who's been trying to kill him. There's some more running in corridors and a lot of spiders before the game just ends with Tom in a room full of big, nasty critters.

Yeah.



The first hour of Investigator is actually pretty good. It is atmospheric and moody and even manages to use some jumpscares nicely. At first, the story feels like it could be going somewhere, as the post-apocalyptic setting is a proper place to dwell in someone's guilt and regrets. It is, as such, a perfect environment for symbolism and nightmares.

But then, at some point, it feels like the developers forgot what kind of a game they set up. The story that started as something feeling like a jump into someones inner thoughts turns into something far staler. Something, that drops the pretence of the symbolism, as it doesn't manage to go anywhere with its own imagery. It's was not a metaphoric journey, but a literal one, where the things that were at first presented as mysterious actually are just obtuse and poorly written. It's like a half thought idea, which the writer didn't know how to finish, so the developers just try to make it a bit surreal in hopes of that the players would not notice that the story itself is just lacking in coherency.

It's a shame the narrative doesn't really work, as Investigator does try to spice up the walking simulator gameplay a bit with some actual puzzles. It also has an interesting full body sensitive movement system, where you can "feel" and see how Tom's feet react and move differently on different surfaces. Sadly that leads into some clunky movement, as there's a couple of segments where you need to move on narrow surfaces, which end up being a pretty frustrating task.



Investigator is one of those games that could have been better than they are, but which for some reason failed to live up to their premises. It's not something I'd recommend, as the genre does have far better entries in it than this. But all said, it's not really an expensive game, so even if you end up not liking it, the sting won't be that steep. Still, I wouldn't really recommend it.

You can get it from Steam.


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