Does History Repeat Itself? Jane Jensen is back; she’s known for her Gabriel Knight series and is seen as an adventure game design icon.
I put off playing Moebius because I saw a sneak peek in November and was bored out of my mind by the end of the presentation. Her return has been so hyped that I was genuinely nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy the game at all and I’d have Jane Jensen fans running after me with pitchforks. Actually, I was nervous because the indie developing house she chose was Phoenix Online Studios (POS); the same studio that developed the Cognition series. I was concerned that I would experience the same amount of frustration as I did previously with bugs and odd character movement/design and inconsistent voiceover acting.
Needless to say, POS has come a long way; I still don’t like the way their characters move. I just can’t get behind the awkward proportions and unnatural way that they walk or climb stairs. Don’t misunderstand me; in Moebius, the 3D character models are done well just with what I officially call the “POS character art style.”
Without spoiling too much of the plot; you play as antique dealer, Malachi Rector, with extraordinary abilities making you a threat to some and an asset to others. The mal-adjusted Malachi has a talent for attention to minute detail, knowing his history and putting clues and puzzle pieces together in such a manner that leads some to believe that the Moebius theory is legitimate. Confused? Well, you won’t be because the narrative does a good job of explaining everything that is happening through gameplay, obligatory cut scenes, and virtually no mini-games.
Initially the pacing seemed a bit slow, but once the story picked up momentum I really began to enjoy playing as Malachi. I also liked that this game didn’t take itself too seriously; complete with melodrama and Cognition cameos. And guess what? You can actually die; out of nowhere some of your actions have actual life or death consequences.
The thing that I found odd was that the female characters had very little to do in this game except to be objects or pawns in the plot; this game sadly was full of white male bravado. I was genuinely frustrated that all of the people of color presented were negative stereotypes, i.e. thugs, con men, evil. Moebius does get “points” for diversity because the head of the spy agency FITA was wheel chair bound, with accessibility within the agency building being directly addressed and visible.
My only real gameplay complaint is the memory usage for the end of the game; I have a feeling it was all of those 3D textures. I am also not a fan of being forced into lineal gameplay; meaning you can’t pick up certain items until they are relevant in the story which made for a bit of back and forth to retrieve items.
Bottom Line: It’s an indie point and click adventure mystery with a slight sci-fi twist. (If you’re not a fan of adventure games then you won’t like this.) There are over 10 hours of gameplay. It’s not perfect but enjoyable to play. I cannot praise the sound in this game enough, the Foley effects, voiceovers, and music work well as a unit, making it my favorite part of the game.
Hint: Don’t forget to save. There’s no auto-saving. Don’t forget to save.
This review is based on a digital copy of Moebius: Empire Rising for the PC provided by Phoenix Online Publishing.