Big thanks to Mad Head games for giving Dashing Nerds a review code for this game!
Prior to being asked if Dashing Nerds would be interested in reviewing Adam Wolfe, I truthfully hadn’t heard of it. While I’ve never been against or disliked adventure games, I have just never been very good at them growing up. The experience ended with me getting frustrated and quitting. It also didn’t help that I wasn’t very good at reading in my younger days, but thanks to Hooked on Phonics, I am now literate! I happily agreed to play through this first episode of Adam Wolfe, but did I make a horrible decision that will haunt me like an ancient fire demon, or will this series become another addictive episodic adventure series?
The Ancient Flame is the first of the four episode series, the rest of which will be released in the coming months. You play as Adam Wolfe, a private investigator who specializes in tackling cases with a taste of the supernatural and paranormal, all the while investigating the disappearance of your sister. Cases of conflagration (extensive fire that destroys a great deal of land or property) are popping up around San Francisco and you are tasked with figuring out what is behind it. Throughout your investigation, you stumble upon many supernatural tropes, such as ancient magic, artifacts, and secret societies. Not too shabby for a first foray into a new series. All of which lead up to a rather decent twist and a nice bit of foreshadowing into what is to come in the three following episodes.
Adam Wolfe harkens back to the by-gone age of point-and-click adventure genre that is creeping its way back into the spotlight. With the re-releases of fan favorites such as Grim Fandango, Shadowgate, and Maniac Mansion as examples, releasing a brand new title in the genre is smart for the market.
If you have played a point-and-click title before, you will instantly feel at home here as you visit different locations and have to search around the screen for specific items that interact with other items so you can progress. Adam Wolfe throws in some rather challenging puzzles to struggle through. Staple puzzle types like marble mazes and “find what’s wrong in a picture” are accounted for here.
As I don’t have a ton of experience with the genre, the recharging hint button was a welcome feature, which is available to you to assist in progressing in the story. No microtransactions here with the recharge, thankfully; it is completely time-based and fills up in about 45 seconds or so between hints. If you need more assistance or care simply for the story aspect and want to skip all the hide-and-seek and puzzles, there is a full step-by-step strategy guide as well that is just a click away! A handy feature, indeed.
Quick time events are sprinkled throughout the episode when Adam Wolfe is called upon to use items such as his revolver or dodge an attacker. The game does a good job in not putting too many events in, making them more of a nice bonus and fresh reprieve from the puzzles you will encounter in most other situations. One interesting item in Adam’s inventory that I foresee playing a large role throughout the entire season of episodes is a watch. This watch, which is of course adorned with mysterious symbols, grants Adam the ability relive certain events, giving you a glimpse of what occurred at a specific moment in time. I would have liked this feature to have been used more than two situations it was in this episode, but as I said, this watch and its mysteries are here to stay. I’d bet a smooth-talking detective on it!
Great game for people with busy lives.
The Ancient Flame is a wonderfully bite-sized title, with my time clocking in at 101 minutes. If you are decent at puzzles and games like this, I would say you could cut 15-20 minutes off easy. This isn’t a game where you make morality choices with branching outcomes. It is a start to finish story, with not much in terms of replay factor. This is far from being a bad thing, as it will run you $6 for the single episode or $20 for episodes 1-4. It can easily be beaten in a single sitting or played in small chunks.
Look at those views!
The presentation in this game is most certainly the high point of the title, going for an impressively realistic painted comic book art style. The characters you interact with and their sprites are subtly animated as you speak to them, with mouth flaps that actually look like they are saying the words being said. The locations you visit are beautifully drawn and painted with a wide range of variety, including deserts, eerie graveyards, too well-furnished mansion studies. Each atmosphere has a level of personality brilliantly on display thanks to the art.
There are some rough areas, though, and these unfortunately usually show up in high-action, big movement pieces. The sprite based modular animation can look rather odd. Early in the game when Adam is chasing after a suspect, the way his arms and legs moved was rough and almost comedic in its execution. There were also occasional sprites where either the perspective looked skewed or the anatomy just appeared…off. None of these are deal breakers and they are relatively few and far between, but they are oddities you catch.
An intriguing introduction
Adam Wolfe was a great step back into the point-and-click genre for me. Its puzzles offered me a decent challenge, and the safety net of both the hint system and guide meant I never had to be stuck on any one part longer than I really wanted to be. The story presented a good amount of interesting plot twists and intrigue to hold my attention for the almost two hours of play while making me curious enough to want to check out the future episodes. Adam’s personality of a swuave, wise-cracking investigator was on point, if not a bit clichèd, and I am curious about where his investigation into his missing sister will lead him. If you are in the mood for an old style title or just trying something off the beaten path, give Adam Wolfe: The Ancient Flame a try. At $6 and clocking in at under two hours, it’s worth every penny, and you may just find yourself hooked at the end!
- Really nice art (most of the time)
- Bite-sized game that is great if you have a busy life but still want to play something
- Helpful hint and guide system for those that suck at puzzles or just want to experience the story
- Sprite animation in high-action intense scenes can be hit-or-mis