With great Cynicism comes great responsibility
For a lot of us, life can often take on a “one step forward, two steps back” kind of routine. Maybe you made a little bit of extra money on that paycheck, but ended up having to pay extra expenses for that month. Maybe you spent the last 5 hours grinding on an RPG without saving, only to have a power outage strip you of both your progress and free time. Whatever the cause may be, we all come across unfortunate strings of bad luck. Well, you may be surprised (or maybe you won’t be) to know that bad luck happens to video game characters too! A night of fun can turn into a big mess just as easily for those on the other side of the screen. Don’t believe me? Well, allow me to present Demetrios – The BIG Cynical Adventure.
Demetrios – The BIG Cynical Adventure follows the story of Bjorn Thornen, a rather questionable antiques dealer living in France. One night, after coming home from what seemed to be a particularly festive night at the bar, Bjorn receives a mysterious phone call from a stranger urging him to get out of his house due to the fact that he is in danger. Laughing it off and believing it to be nothing more than a booze-infused joke from a stranger, he begins to go to bed. Before he can drift off to dreamland however, he is awoken by a crash in his living room. Realizing that the phone call may be a bit more than a prank he cautiously enters his living room but is immediately greeted with a whack on the head, causing him to black out. Upon awaking the next morning, Bjorn has found that, while someone did indeed break in, little has actually been taken. In fact, the only thing missing aside from his wallet is a stone tablet with a lightning bolt engraved on it that came with a statue that he had recently purchased. Perplexed and still quite possibly drunk from the night before, Bjorn haplessly sets out to recover what was stolen from him; if only he knew what he was getting himself into.
With a word like “cynical” in the title of the game, you could probably surmise that Demetrios – The BIG Cynical Adventure to have quite a bit of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek in it. Well I’m here to tell you to think again, because- nah, I’m totally joshing with you; pretty much every single element in Demetrios has at least some sort of sarcasm or irony to it. A consistent level of sarcasm can be difficult to pull of in a game that has any sort of length to it; what starts out as funny or clever can quickly become dull, or perhaps even offensive, down the road as the jokes press onward. Fortunately, there isn’t too much of that within Demetrios. I won’t lie and pretend that there weren’t a few moments here and there that had me rolling my eyes and thinking “really?”, but overall the writing is quite entertaining. The narrative is definitely a little more on the niche side; Demetrios isn’t afraid to make fun of anything (including itself). That being said, it does a pretty good job with the overall tone that its trying to convey whilst successfully blending the sarcastic aura together with a legitimate story.
In terms of gameplay Demetrios – The BIG Cynical Adventure follows a fairly straightforward and orthodox Point-and-Click play style that has players moving from location to location, chatting it up with the locals, uncovering clues, and finding new items, all while trying to help Bjorn recover what was stolen from him. Though it contained an occasional head-scratcher here and there, Demetrios is generally quite evenly-paced in terms of difficulty and provides a challenge without resorting to overly-cryptic puzzles or having players pixel hunt in order to artificially inflate play time. The game does present players with a plethora ways to hit a Game Over (generally due to death or being arrested), but are usually pretty obvious (frequently to the point of Bjorn pointing out that what you’re trying to get him to do is a bad idea). Despite the frequency of Game Overs however they actually pose no threat, doing nothing but kicking you back to right before you purposefully decided to make your unwise decision. The game even keeps track of your Game Overs, making them more of a collectable as opposed to a hindrance; it’s kind of neat in all actuality.
Although almost all of its gameplay revolves around PnC adventuring, Demetrios does actually sport a collection of mini-games for players to enjoy throughout the adventure including fishing, a shooting gallery, and a rather humorous horse-racing game (among others, of course). While most certainly not the central theme of the game, the mini games are quite enjoyable (and in the case of the carnival games, somewhat addictive) and are placed throughout the game in a way that breaks any tedium that searching around for clues may incur.
Despite the overall level of challenge being fairly consistent in most cases, there will still most likely be a few (or, if you’re like me, quite a few) times when you may not know just exactly what to do. Fortunately, Demetrios provides a pretty… sweet… opportunity to get some hints whenever you’re stuck. Within each of the many areas of the game are three cookies – literal chocolate chip cookies – that are cleverly hidden within the scenery. Though a bit difficult to find, they’re worth it; eating a cookie will give the generally dull-witted Bjorn a burst of inspiration as to what he should do. Though they are limited in quantity, you most likely won’t find yourself completely running out of them. The cookie mechanic is a refreshing take on the hint system (given that you don’t just cheat and load an old save file), and does a good job of letting players know that help is there if needed while still encouraging players to discover the solution to the puzzle-at-hand.
All of the art assets within Demetrios have a down-to-earth, hand-drawn feel to them that allows for quite a bit of detail and creativity. Characters, locations, and items are all drawn with a noticeable amount of detail and fit the whimsically sarcastic nature of the game overall. Once in a while you may encounter a character that seems a bit oddly shaped, or an animation that may seem a bit rough, but the clear amount of detail put into drawing them is enough to dismiss any triviality concerning graphical imperfections for the most part.
The soundtrack within Demetrios was, simply put, alright. While certainly not unenjoyable by any means, collection of songs within the game were rather basic and straightforward. The tendency for certain areas to have multiple songs cycle through was also an odd choice, as not all of the songs within each area seemed to fit the overall feel.
Demetrios: The BIG Cynical Adventure is pretty solid overall. Between its cleverly thought-out script, large number of areas to explore, and nice mix of gameplay elements, Bjorn’s wacky adventure wraps up pretty nicely. Though perhaps not for everyone due to its cheeky, satirical, and occasionally dubious vibe, its definitely a game worth checking out for those into the cruder side of humor, and Point-and-Click Adventure fans alike.
Final Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Available on: PC (reviewed) ; Publisher: Cowcat ; Developer: Cowcat ; Players: 1 ; Released: May 31, 2016 ; ESRB: Not Rated ; MSRP: $9.99
Full Disclosure: This game was reviewed based on review code sent to us by the game’s developer and publisher, Cowcat.