Thanks to the advent of Kickstarter, we’ve seen lagging genres like the point-and-click adventure start to come back to life. Well, that’s the dream, anyway. In actuality, the genre never really died; it’s just been in hiding. There’s a veritable glut of hidden object games with adventure elements, for instance, and what is the classic adventure staple of pixel-hunting but a form of hidden object game? Naturally, there are devs making legit adventure games as well, like the fantastic studio Wadjet Eye. Today we’ve got yet another example of a “dying” genre – Subject 13, a point-and-click adventure made by Paul Cuisset, lead designer on the classic adventure game Flashback.
Franklin Fargo awakens in an egg-like chamber with no memory and a strange voice seemingly speaking into his mind. The voice calls him “Subject 13,” and directs him through an abandoned complex, encouraging him to solve puzzles along the way. What happened to Franklin? Is he dead, as the introduction suggests? Was there a failed science experiment? Or is something else going on?
Subject 13 is a pretty standard point-and-click adventure title. You guide Franklin around, intermittently run into puzzles and proceed to solve them. A little more replay value is added through “testimonies,” which are basically voice recorders lying around the environment that you can pick up for snippets of backstory. These are usually hidden behind stuff during the intermittent first-person sections where you’re allowed to move the camera around freely, but you’ll need to use a little pixel hunting to find others.
As far as puzzle difficulty goes, I didn’t find it particularly tough and I’m not exactly a master when it comes to this sort of game. Careful investigation of your environment and (especially) the items Franklin gathers will usually lead to success when applied with a little common sense. If you need extra help, there’s a freely available hint system to keep you on the right track, but either way you could probably finish the entire game in an evening.
In terms of presentation, Subject 13 is about as average as it gets. Nothing is going to make your eyes bleed, either from joy or from shock, and the voice acting isn’t going to win any awards but it doesn’t ruin the game either. Controls are about what you’d expect for this kind of game, though the abundance of odd controls that feel a little awkward with a mouse make it seen like mobile was the intended platform for this title.
Still, point-and-click adventures aren’t the most common genre, so if you’re hungering for a little item-hunting and puzzle-solving you could do worse than Subject 13. Don’t expect a huge payoff at the end – the last couple bits are more than a little absurd – or a week-long adventure gaming opus. It may not be the return-to-form that Flashback fans have been waiting for, but the day or so you’ll spend playing through make Subject 13 worth experimenting with.