The elements that make up Gamecock’s latest adventure title are unique if nothing else. Insecticide mixes the traditional platforming elements found in modern games and meshes it with old-school point and click adventure fundamentals and sets it all against a quirky story about advanced insects in a film noire setting. On the surface this sounds like a recipe for one of the freshest experiences to come along in a while, but after spending some time with Detective Chrys Liszt I have discovered that the best parts of this unique combination are few and far between.
The world of Insecticide is easily one of its most endearing qualities. The game takes place in a sort of alternate future where insects have evolved past humans and are now the dominant species on the planet. Human live in the sewers and have de-evolved into a hominid like race that is struggling to survive. You assume the role of detective Chrys Liszt as you try to uncover the truth behind a murder within a massive corporation. There are plenty of quirky references along the way including nods to classic movies, television and of course the quintessential bug references in the dialogue. All of it is done well enough that it isn’t annoying, but it is also far from Oscar material.
The core game breaks down into two partitions. The first is investigation. These sections feature the classic point-and-click adventure reminiscent of classic LucasArts PC games, which should come as no surprise seeing as the game was crafted by some of the same folks who brought you those titles. This is the part of the game that works to near perfection as investigating scenes, interacting with clues and the incredibly well-written dialogue make this the most enjoyable part of the game. The second segment is where things begin to fall apart.
Action is not Insecticide’s strong point and unfortunately it makes up the bulk of the game. You have your traditional fodder here: shooting, platforming and of course the prototypical boss fights. The shooting mechanic is sluggish, allowing your character to only fire one bullet every few moments, thus completely eliminating any type of tension. Weapon selection is nice; you can peruse your inventory by tapping the Y button or simply select them with the stylus.
Movement is also hindered by the fact that your character moves and turns ridiculously slow. Dodging enemy attacks are out of the question and the overall action just feels clunky. The platforming itself isn’t broken by any means as much as it just feels derivative. Probably the biggest reason why the action portions feel so uninspired is because of just how good the investigation parts really are. The meat of the game lies in discovering the clues and interacting with the characters, and the action portion simply takes away from that creating a combination of tastes that don’t exactly taste great together.
Visually the game is impressive outside of the fact that at times it is so dark it is nigh impossible to make out what is going on. Character models are nicely designed and animated for a portable title and the game runs at a smooth enough clip. The sound is even more remarkable with a great orchestral arrangement and some truly top-shelf voice acting. Overall the presentation here is some of the best on the system.
Insecticide is one of those games that I really wanted to like a lot more than I actually did. The storyline is excellent and the adventure portions recall memories of the classic (and now all but dormant) point-and-click genre. The problem lies in the fact that the game focuses most of its energy on trying to be an action platformer and at that it is simply average at best. If you crave a good detective story and are willing to put up with an average paltformer to get your fix then by all means give the game a whirl. The story and investigation are worth the price of admission alone.