A Historical Adventure
IF Games’ The Perils of Man sets new standards for the point-and-click genre on mobile devices. The story (so far) is interesting and tailors to a mobile audience that’s been hungry for deep, mysterious and emotional story telling. Even after only playing the first chapter, I feel just as emotionally invested in the protagonist’s causes as she herself might. The gameplay is smooth and exploration is heavily rewarded, as promised.
Set in the Swiss mansion of the Eberling family, the Chapter 1 demo version The Perils of Man pulls the player into a dark and mysterious world as Ana Eberling tries to uncover the mystery of her father’s disappearance. This first chapter of the game introduces a taste of the challenging adventure that is to come. The eerie, yet beautiful soundtrack helps set the tone as the player explores the mansion and studies old portraits, books, and dioramas in order to solve puzzles and progress. There are plenty of tasks to complete, and each one has a purpose. I never felt like I solved a puzzle or completed a task for no reason, like I do in some adventure games. Each challenge felt naturally placed and seemed to affect the game just as it should.
The demo introduces Ana and her eccentric mother, Nadia. Since the disappearance of her husband, Max, Nadia has become paranoid. She shelters Ana from any and all risks and claims to see and feel Max’s ghost, along with the ghosts of their ancestors whom she claims reside in the mansion. While Nadia believes Max to be dead, Ana is determined to dig deeper and find out what exactly happened to him, and even hopes to find him alive. These differences establish well-written and believable interaction between these two characters that I grew to genuinely care about. Rather than seeing Ana and her mother as two characters that are a means to an end in a video game, I saw a normal teenage girl trying to prove to herself and to her overbearing mother that her father was alive, and the urgency to do so felt real.
Playing point-and-click adventure games on my iPhone has always been so-so. The Perils of Man does its best to make this style on a touch screen easy, but there are minor annoyances now and then that I’ll mention in the next paragraph. There are plenty of objects in the world to interact with. The names and locations of the objects aren’t obvious until the player presses a finger to the screen. The player can then move his or her finger over the object of choice (their locations are revealed by circles) and a short description/name of the object appears. From there, the player can then lift his or her finger off the screen to make Ana interact with the object. This makes exploring the Eberling home easy, as I was able to conveniently see what I could interact with before making a choice.
Now and then, when I wasn’t exploring and just wanted to get from one end of the house to the other, walking was difficult. I would intend to tap on the floor, and I would end up tapping on an object that happened to be in my way without realizing it. This led to many accidental interactions with objects I had seen and read many times over. I also had a problem with the game crashing too often. It was to the point of being unplayable.
I was told by Nathan Ornick, head of production at IF Games, that this is a common issue among lower-spec devices such as the iPad Mini, iPad 2 and iPhone 4s. Higher-end devices, however, work just fine. The problem has to do with the way that RAM is handled with iOS7. This particular process leads to complications in lower-end devices, as they have a smaller amount of memory to play around with. Ornick has assured me that the team is doing the best they can to optimize memory load. “We are trying every angle we can to make sure Perils of Man runs smoothly on as many devices as possible,” he said.
As I had hoped, my exploration was rewarded. Not only did interacting with every object and listening to every line of dialogue give me interesting and noteworthy information about the Eberling family and home, but I was also able to complete certain tasks later on. Had I not thoroughly interacted with the world around me earlier, I would have had to backtrack in order to complete the tasks I was given, and it would be more difficult to know where to look and what to do.
Another thing worth mentioning is the game’s visuals. The 3D graphics and dynamic lighting are great, and the art style is fantastic. The art style, with a touch of Steam Punk, creates this unique world that I can’t wait to further explore in the future.
This game is phenomenal, and from what we’ve been able to see so far, The Perils of Man promises adventure and many unique challenges to come. The game is said to place across space and time as Ana travels here and there to discover family secrets, horrors, controversies and perils (hah… No pun intended here). The first chapter (demo) of The Perils of Man is amazing, and definitely deserves a download if you haven’t played it yet.