Fate is a strange thing. Are we as a species doomed to repeat past mistakes, stuck in an endless loop of the same few historical figureheads changing the course of history? Moebius attempts to answer this question, but is often hampered by bland, nonsensical puzzles and a lack of meaningful characters.
Moebius: Empire Rising presents a lot of promise. It’s a modern-day point-and-click adventure game by Jane Jensen, the same person that brought us Gabriel Knight. With that sort of pedigree, it’s no real surprise that the Kickstarter was funded with over $435,000. Unfortunately, it’s not the return to form that fans might expect.
Moebius puts the player in the shoes of Malachi Rector, a wealthy antiques dealer who travels the world in search of new wares. Malachi is aided by his assistant Gretchen, who provides him with new leads and information about various dealings in his antique shop, along with David, Malachi’s bodyguard. Malachi’s skills in appraisal and evaluation garner the attention of a government organization named FITA, which tasks Malachi with traveling around the globe and finding people who represent various important historical figures.
The character models in Moebius are ugly. Not in the sense that they’re low resolution; they’re just ugly. Nothing about them says “I am a human being,” instead “I am a poorly-animated character in a video game.” It’s very jarring when the backgrounds are visually appealing, but the characters and the animation appear as if you’re swimming through tepid gelatin.
Talking is a large part of Moebius, yet a majority of the delivery is absolutely cringe-worthy. The voice acting is mediocre, especially David, whose flat line delivery is reminiscent more of Microsoft Sam than an actual human being. It’s really unfortunate, too, because this only served to further disconnect me from the experience.
For a supposed genius, Malachi often fails to see the merit in items that could conceivably be useful in the future; for instance, instead of thinking “this super glue might be useful later, I’ll take it now,” Malachi leaves it be until it’s blatantly obvious that it has a present use. It’s quite infuriating to try picking up an item only to have the game tell you “nah, let’s leave that there for now.”
The story in Moebius has promise, for sure: at any point, important people from antiquity can reemerge as another human being and change the world. The small glimmer of intrigue Moebius presents is quickly ablated, as it wastes the opportunity to tell a good story with bland puzzles and boring characters. It’s tragic that the potential for a great narrative is completely wasted on ancient design philosophy and dry-mouthed gameplay.
Moebius presents a strong story, has a lot of cool ideas, and sports some spiffy writing chops, but it’s unfortunately not enough to save it from the bland portrayal, the boring gameplay, and the archaic puzzle design.
Final Verdict: 2.5
Available on: PC (reviewed) ; Publisher:Phoenix Online Publishing; Developer: Pinkerton Road, Phoenix Online Studios; Players: 1; Released: April 15th, 2014; ESRB: T; MSRP: $29.99
Moebius: Empire Rising was reviewed with Steam code provided by Phoenix Online Publishing.