[Welcome to Let’s Play Gemini Rue! This series is being written by my brother, who you may remember from his critically acclaimed post on Almost Human. Please direct all angry comments and typo notifications to his email address at firstname.lastname@example.org]
This blog is about books, right? Right! But books are old-fashioned. Boring, even. It’s about time we here at Doing In The Wizard blasted off into the 21st century!
To that end, I will now commence a Let’s
Read Play of a future-vision graphical adventure story, or ‘inter-vidcon game’. The format will be more-or-less what you’re used to, with each post in the series covering a small section of the inter-vidcon game we’re currently playing. However, because inter-vidcon games aren’t conductive to quotes (or even Kvothes), I will instead be leveraging hyper-futuristic screenshots and, should the situation warrant it, internet video clips. This is going to be a veritable smorgasbord of cutting-edge blog technology.
Are you ready? Are you excited? Because I sure am!
LET’S PLAY GEMINI RUE
So Gemini Rue is an inter-vidcon game of the point-and-click variety. It’s got some attractive old-school pixel graphics and appears to be running on the same engine as some of the games reviewed by Ronan over on his point-and-click post from earlier in the week.
One nice thing about the engine is that you can customise a surprising amount of audio-visual stuff in the settings menu. Specifically, I appreciated the ability to turn off the voice acting and character portraits. Not that I have a problem with the voice work – it’s actually quite good in places – but I’m going to be reading every line of dialogue a lot faster than the actors can say them and I’d rather just skip ahead than wait for them to catch up. The character portraits are just kind of weird looking. Like this:
That grouchy-faced guy is one of our protagonists. This is the first and only time I’ll be showing off his character portrait, so get a good look! (There’s no text next to his face because my screen-capture software keeps erasing it. That…might be an issue.)
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The game starts off with a different character, one who is in a fairly bad situation. He’s strapped to some kind of scary science-fiction chair and there are scientists talking about ‘memory wipes’, a combination of events that you probably want to avoid if at all possible.
‘Delta-Six’, as he’s referred to by the scientists, gets his memories memory-wiped. RIP memories. The prologue ends with one of the scientists ominously saying that he’s ‘in their hands now’.
But enough about that, let’s get back to Mr. Fun-Times from the first screenshot!
The somewhat improbably-named ‘Azriel Odin’ is in the Colony of Barracus, which is in turn part of the Gemini System. His partner-in-crime, Kane (I’m beginning to notice a trend here) is in orbit above him. It seems they’re on Barracus to find ‘Matthius Howard’, an old friend of Azriel’s from some kind of war in the Gemini system. (No word on whether or not they rue the Gemini war, but the odds are pretty good.) By talking to Kane via Azriel’s communicator, we learn that Azriel is a) from ‘Taurus’ and b) a former hitman.
Just to recap, we have a man named Azriel Odin who is a space-assassin. Normally this would be enough to start the industrial-strength warning bells going off in my head, but I’ve been told that the plot in this thing is good so let’s just give it the benefit of the doubt.
Before I go any further, I should say that gameplay is of the standard pointy-clicky variety. Controlling Azriel is as simple as clicking on where you want to go, and interacting with objects involves right-clicking to bring up a context menu that includes ‘Eye’ (Look), ‘Hand’ (Use/Pickup), ‘Mouth’ (Talk), and ‘Foot’ (Kick), as well as any items you’re holding. All items you can interact with are highlighted when you move your cursor over them, which should alleviate pixel-hunting.
By point-clicking on a few objects in the initial screen, we learn that people on Barracus are disappearing. There’s also some kind of crime group (I’m guessing) called the ‘Boryokuden’ that’s up to no good.
Is this a weaboo game? I’m going to be mad if this is a weaboo game 😡
(More likely it’s just riffing on the ‘cyberpunk Asia’ aesthetic made famous by Blade Runner, but there’s only so much of that I can take before it starts to get irritating.)
Anyway, there’s a ‘planetary terminal’ nearby, but I can’t use it without a citizenship card. I head over to the right and encounter a non-communicative homeless guy and a dude inside some kind of shop. Talking to the shopkeeper reveals a few interesting pieces of information:
- There’s a shortage of ‘juice’, which seems to be the drug of choice on Barracus.
- Things are bad in a gritty, noir-ish kind of way.
- Azriel needs an ID card to use the terminal I mentioned before. It seems that off-worlders aren’t allowed in the Gemini system, but the shopkeeper agrees not to to rat me out. He even gives me his ID card because he thinks I’m fighting the Boryokudan…for some reason.
- Nobody in this game can pronounce ‘Boryokudan’.
- The shopkeeper’s name is GERARD BRAINER. Seriously.
There’s a cool system where you can ask NPCs about any name that appears in your communicator. At the moment that’s just Kane and Matthius, but I’m guessing it’s going to fill up quickly.
ID card in hand, I go back to check out the terminal. The name system gets fleshed out a bit more here, since you can cross-reference items in your communicator with the terminal database. This is all kinds of cool.
Clicking ‘News’ reveals that this is taking place in the appropriately futuristic year of 2229. We’re also told that an ex-Boryokudan assassin has been feeding information to the Taurus police, which has resulted in a crackdown on organised crime. Sadly, this mystery man is unable to travel to the Gemini system.
There’s a map, which for some reason goes all the way from street level to a view of the entire Gemini solar system. What I’m really interested in, though, is the planetary database, which reveals that Matthias lives in the pleasingly-alliterative ‘Hibiscus Highrise’ and is a ‘PH Engineer’, whatever that is. It turns out you can also look up locations in the database. I spent several minutes entering random crap into the search bar, just to see what would happen. Anything plot-relevant gets automatically added to your communicator.
This is super cool, by the way.
Apparently Barracus is actually a gas giant, which is…confusing, to say the least. The map makes it look as if space-Pittsburg is on the surface of the planet itself, although that doesn’t really make sense.
Before I go any further, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the background art on the screen just after the one with the shopkeeper.
How good does that look? I especially like how it isn’t OMG SO FUTURE WOW. Apart from the purple sky and the terminal off to the right, this could easily be taking place in any city on Earth.
Now that I have Matthias’ address, I can go and find out why he wasn’t at the designated meeting place. (Probably because he’s dead, if I had to guess). While walking around this area you can occasionally hear a scary computer-voice talk about ‘defectors’, which is pretty interesting.
On the next screen I come across two ‘agents’ who Azriel doesn’t want to talk to. One of them tries to draw you into a fight, but you can just leave without doing anything.
After that I find Hibiscus Highrise…at which point the game suddenly crashes. And, uh, deletes my save file.
Huh. Looks like I’m going to be practicing the ancient PC-gaming art of ‘rotating my saves’. Apart from that little technical hiccup, though, this is off to a great start. Check back soon for more!