Gadget: Invention, Travel & Adventure (Synergy)
Gadget: Past as Future (Cryo)
Review by Orb
This is not your usual game. It's an eerie world of motionless
bodies and looming machines. Gadget is probably the best
treated among the titles directed by Japanese artist Haruhiko Shono.
It has been rereleased in an upgraded package by Cryo Interactive,
which took over distribution from Synergy Interactive. Probably
the biggest misconception about Gadget is that it's a game.
Gadget is much more interactive fiction than game; it is
more like a big brother of the graphic multimedia novel Sinkha
than a true, pure adventure title. It was experimental when
first published and as such bears greater resemblance to performance
art than game, if you will.
The game starts off in the bedroom of a hotel. As gameplay progresses,
the player discovers that a comet is heading for earth and uncovers
a plot by a team of scientists to escape. The game goal is to collect
a series of gadgets to be used as part of the plan to escape and
in the process discover the secret of the scientists. The story
itself is a well-written thriller; however, be warned that some
of the dialog is so esoteric as to be surreal.
There are characters all over the place but no voice acting, just
text below the game screen when you click on the characters, although
there is a bit of voice used several times in radios and telephones.
You can, however, repeat all dialog, good for not missing any of
the plot. There is very little music to speak of, mostly the sound
of drums and violins in cutscenes to denote the train moving or
the urgency of your mission. Because of the lack of voice acting
(and music except in the majority of cases for the beating of the
train), the air is oddly emotionless, which is actually a striking
touch. What little music there is is so airy and light it has no
melody and is more a series of translucent sound effects.
The graphics and style of design are simply what you are playing
Gadget for. The hotel has the look and feel of Kubrick's
Overlook Hotel in the film adaptation of The Shining. Much
of the game has a very surreal feel to it; much movement from location
to location is implied rather than stated.
There are unusual cutscenes, mostly of game progress; unfortunately,
the majority of them are of the main train you're on moving to the
next stop, which quickly becomes redundant. There's a lot of watching
the same or similar train animations.
There are no puzzles to speak of. There's not a gameplay direction
to figure out. You are directed and moved in a most linear path
and disallowed any movement choices that don't go story-forward,
often moving to a location by a cutscene in the game itself. There
is really nothing to solve here. You're moved through the mystery
by the sheer fact that you can't go in a red herring direction.
Additionally, you are supplied with a duraluminum briefcase to store
collected gadgets but do not control it in any wayit appears
when needed, and only the right gadget will move when clicked on.
Pretty much idiot-proof.
There is also quite a bit of the same fun equipment found in L-Zone
to fiddle around with.
I did find it bizarre, therefore, when all of a sudden, most of
the way through the game, Shono drops in a real, live puzzle. Guess
which kind? Yup, it's everyone's favoritea maze, where you
are allowed to control the direction of the current craft you're
in and move around.
There is also a companion art book by Shono called Inside Out
with Gadget available for $30 at Amazon.com.
Gadget is less of a game and more of a performance piece,
similar to and perhaps more cleverly designed that Laurie
Anderson's Puppet Motel. Despite the lovely design,
this just doesn't have enough of the usual adventure elements to
enthrall the player in the usual gaming manner. As a performance
art piece, or elaborate interactive fiction, it succeeds on a high
level. Just don't go into it expecting a game, and you won't be
Developer: Haruhiko Shono
Publishers: Synergy Inc., Cryo
Release Dates: 1994 (Synergy), 1998 (republished by Cryo Interactive)
Four Fat Chicks Links
Mac OS 7.5 or later
16 MB RAM, 24 recommended
4X CD-ROM drive
16-bit audio card
16 MB RAM, 32 recommended
4X CD-ROM drive
SVGA graphics card
Soundblaster 16 or compatible
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