Back in the good old days (in the 90s), adventure games were the mother genre of all games. I remember LucasArts and Sierra were probably the only companies who made worthy adventure games (The Monkey Island series were one of my favorites). Then somehow adventure games genre vanished without a trace. After Valve’s Halflife, first person shooter genre started to dominate the market and nowadays, games are all about the graphics and the story comes later.
Thankfully, a game is brave enough to challenge and fight back, trying to resurrect the good old adventure point-and-click genre. The game is called Ceville which was developed by a German game studio Realmforge Studios and published by Kalypso Media. Can Ceville manage to bring the adventure genre back to its former glory?
Ceville is actually the name of a king who rules the kingdom of Faeryanis (don’t bother looking for it on your map as it’s merely a fantasy world). He is no ordinary king as you can tell straight away from the introduction scene. King Ceville is a ruthless, cynical, and greedy tyrant. He only cares about one thing, himself.
The interesting part is that you will be playing as him (and a couple of other characters later in the game). Now, how many adventure games give you the chance to play as the bad guy?
The story starts when the people of Faeryanis rebel against Ceville (the King) and overthrow him from his throne. The main storyline involves how Ceville is trying to get his throne back but of course, as all good adventure games do, it is not a straight forward approach. The game will keep you busy by throwing you to different places; from Ceville’s palace to other beautiful fantasy locations such as the dwarf mines and to an elven forest. The settings are beautifully done to make the places alive and believable.
You will play as Ceville at first but later during the game you will also play as Ambrosius, a Paladin who’s more interested in showing what a hero he is, and also as Lily, a little peasant girl from the land of Faeryanis. You can switch between the characters during the game (mostly Ceville and Lily) since the two of them have distinct personalities that allow or disallow certain actions. For example, since Lily is mostly a “neutral” character, you will have to rely on Ceville to do some evil actions during the game. It actually reminds me a bit of “The Day of the Tentacle” back in the 1990s where you can switch between characters in different time dimensions.
Although the idea of playing different characters can be a bit daunting, don’t be. The puzzles are quite logical although some of them still require a trial and error approach. Combining an item in your inventory with another will be the things that you often do and sometimes praying that a new item will come up in the process.
You’ll mainly use your mouse to play Ceville. To get your character to walk to a certain point on the screen, you simply click on it. Double clicking on an exit point will instantly bring your character to the exit point so you don’t have to wait too long and get frustrated in the process (since you’ll be going back and forth between the locations).
All the cut-scenes can be skipped too so you don’t need to wait for a character to finish talking (just make sure that you turn the subtitles on!). However, it is worth to listen to the voice acting as they are nicely done. Ceville sounds as evil and as cheeky as he should be. My only complain is that each character doesn’t have enough facial animation & motion to complement the dialogue. Often the character looks like he/she is grinning & dancing even when the dialogue is no where meant to be funny. Thankfully, the voice acting is great enough to cover this up. I also wish that the subtitle colors can be clearer as sometimes they are a bit hard to read.
I wasn’t aware that you can actually press and hold the Spacebar button on your keyboard to automatically highlight interactable objects on the screen until about 4 hours of playing. If you are a hardcore adventure player, you probably don’t want to use this feature. Doing the pixel hunting with your mouse trying to find the interactable objects on the screen is actually quite challenging :) But of course, it can be frustrating at times too. So when you do, simply press and hold your Spacebar to ask for some easy hints. Some objects are interactable only at the right moment, so you need to pay attention to what’s going on at times. You’ll never have to reload a game just because you miss the right moment though. So even if you don’t notice it at first, you can always go back to the scene and try it again.
Playing Ceville will make you laugh at times or at least make a grin on your face. I found it interesting how the developer seems to know what my evil intentions are and let the good little Lily scolds me for trying a certain evil action :D Although at times, an evil action is necessary and somehow Lily allows it to happen (well the game has to progress somehow).
Ceville Review Conclusion
Ceville brings back the good old adventure point-and-click style back to its former glory. Ceville is both funny and entertaining to play, watch, and listen. The puzzles are quite logical but yet challenging at times. Playing as different characters gives you different perspectives to the problem at hand and requires you to change the way you analyze the problem and the solution. If you think that you are stuck for ages and have to cheat, then be a chicken and take a look at Ceville’s walkthrough :)
Ceville is probably the best adventure game I’ve played since the Monkey Island series back in the 90s. Let’s hope the other developers can pick this up and bring back the adventure genre!
+ Great looking adventure game in 3D
+ Great casts / voice acting
+ Believable world
+ Logical puzzles, yet fun and challenging
+ Highlights interactable objects, reducing pixel hunting and unnecessary frustration
– Slow loading times
– Subtitles can use a better font styling
– Need some improvements on characters’ animation and lip synchronization during a dialogue