The Enigmatic Giant
Review by Orb
Where do I begin? I have found myself, for the past several weeks,
consumed by Alida, a refreshingly complex and well-designed
first-person, point-and-click adventure game from independent
Australian developer Dejavu Worlds. Really consumed. Bad. But
it's now over, and I'm here to tell you the tale. First let me
say I haven't had a game eat away at me like this for a long time.
It's really been a great season for point-and-click fans, with
the recent independent releases of the soon-to-be-published Rhem
and the critically acclaimed Dark
Fall, both fine examples of the burgeoning independent
adventure game movement. Add Alida to this lineup, and
it becomes apparent that the market for adventure games is evolving,
with some really exciting, quality titles making their way out
to the public on their own.
Alida is the story of four musicians who have achieved
worldwide fame and accolades for their craft and have made a potful
of money as a result. They decide to take their earnings and build
a monumental theme park in the shape of a monster guitar on an
island ten miles out to sea. The island has lain deserted for
fifteen years, and one of the musicians goes back to Alida for
reasons unknown. You are contacted by his wifeshe has become
suspicious and concerned as she has not heard from her husband
in a while. It is your job to go to Alida, locate Arin, her husband,
and find out what has happened. In the process you uncover a dark
story of jealousy and greed.
The graphics are a stunning accomplishment, especially for an
indie developer. Textures are really well-defined and amazingly
detailed. The minutiae in such things as wallpaper really add
to the degree of immersion in the game. The cutscenes rival in
quality any of the bigger, more well-known adventure game titles.
People that love these sort of games will adore Alida. Myst
detractors will not. So if you don't like Myst-style
games, don't even open your trap to yapjust move on to the
next sideshow booth, fella. It seems that with Alida, the
intention was not to try and win those sorts over, but rather
to do a fabulous job crafting a game in this popular niche style.
The game interface is very simple. Controls are found by running
the cursor along the top of the screen to access the drop-down
menus. The cursor is the classic white hand, which changes based
on the directions available for travel or to show that items may
be picked up or moved. There are some transitional lags that can
be handled by adjusting the speed of transitions, and the motion
of the sea water can also be switched off in the interest of transition
speed. There is also a rocket mode that lets you jump directly
to the end of previously traversed paths.
I really want to not forget to mention something about the soundtrack.
There is no constant looping of music throughout the game, but
rather music is included in specific spots to heighten the dramatic
effect, and indeed it does. Quite often I found myself with goosebumps
when I would access an area and music would begin. And I must
say, the music is of incredible quality. It fits amazingly well
with each environment and adds much to the gameplay. It's also
really beautiful in its own rightit is reminiscent of the
style created by the Rand brothers for the Myst series.
Certainly it is at least as evocative, giving the feeling of something
deep and mysterious in front of you. This is some of the best
adventure game music I've heard, and that's after playing hundreds
of adventure games. I can think of only a handful I have enjoyed
There's a small bit of FMV, and the acting is certainly in keeping
with the rest of the game. The first time one of these segments
appeared, it was so unexpected that I just about went through
the roof. And it's also done in such a way that it looks natural
in the environment, not like some little box on the screen as
is the case with some FMV sequences in games.
As for the puzzles, let me just stop and whine for a bit. They
made me think. I had to really reason some of these suckers out.
The game definitely is not designed to be played on autopilot,
let me tell you. The puzzles are in some instances devilish, fiendish.
The clues to solve them are all presented to the player in the
environment, however. There is a fair amount of thought needed
to marry up all of the clues with their respective puzzles; thus,
the pace of the game becomes quite languid. There is no inventory,
but note-taking is a necessity. The puzzles mostly are of the
mechanical variety, and they are built into the game so as not
to be incongruous with the environments, a complaint many have
had with other point-and-click games.
This is a designer that grasps the concepts involved in making
a complex, entertaining first-person point-and-click adventure.
Honestly, there were times where I was very frustrated by Alida
because the puzzles were so clever and subtle. Finally I realized
that this was not some fly-by-night game that I could just flip
through in a sitting or two, as many of the bigger published titles
seem to have become, but rather I needed to step back and take
my time to look at the environment, exactly what I was doing and
why, and just how everything went together in the bigger picture.
With my game-playing viewpoint shifted, I was able to dig in,
taking what ended up being weeks exploring the environment and
Interestingly enough, I've realized that this sort of gameplay
has become uncommon in recent years, at least from a purist adventure
gamer's perspective. With the exception of the quality indie titles
I mentioned earlier, the luxury of taking one's time puzzling
out a good, old-fashioned adventure seems to be becoming an increasingly
The monolithic (or is that monosyllabic) publisher Dreamcatcher
has made a business of publishing a high volume of repetitive
adventure games at cut-rate prices. This has acclimated the market
to these low prices, and lesser games, cutting off at the knees
other, lower volume, higher quality publishers that are required
to sell their products at prices more common to games outside
the adventure genre. Those same common market rates do not allow
smaller publishers that may bring something fresh to the public
to turn a profit. So I say any independent developer with a quality
title should be supported, in part to break down this onerous
climate that is causing the market to be glutted with poorly conceived
and executed drivel that further lessens interest in adventure
games by the public at large. Fight the man, baby!
Alida currently is for sale at the developer's website.
For the amount of gameplay in the game, and the breadth of it,
I would definitely say that it is worth every cent of the purchase
Worlds (originally self-published for Mac only); Got
Release Date: February 2003 (Dejavu Worlds); May 2004 (Got Game
Mac release); August 2004 (Got Game PC release)
Four Fat Chicks Links
G3 233 or faster
4X CD-ROM drive
QuickTime 4 or 5
Mac OS 8/9/X
21 MB RAM free
185 MB free hard disk space
640x480 screen, 16-bit color
Pentium 3 700 MHz
QuickTime 5 or 6 (Quicktime 6.5 recommended; included on disk)
128 MB RAM
285 MB free hard disk space
640×480 screen resolution
16-bit color (24-bit or 32-bit recommended)
Where to Find It
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