Runaway 2: The Dream of The Turtle Preview - 01/02/07

After very positive reviews for what is essentially a cel-shaded point and click game, perhaps the two most unlikely trends to receive good feedback, Pendulo Studios are developing a sequel, called Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle – we give it a run in our hands on preview.


Point and Click games always get a bad rep. They’re boring, dull, linear, and frustrating, but over the last couple of years, a number of developers have made huge strides to rubbish these assumptions. Pendulo are one of them, and Runaway 2 follows a wild and wacky story involving Brian, Gina and friends.

The basic plot is that they get separated after a plane crash on a tropical island, before Brian gets into trouble with the local military and has to flee the island. It all makes a little more sense once you see the gloriously sculpted cut scenes and listen to the well voiced dialogue, but realism is not in anyway what Runaway 2 is about. The characters all have a heavy element of fun associated with them, swearing occasionally crops up to give the protagonists and the other personalities in the game a bit of life, and in all, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, from what we’ve played so far at least.

That level was the fourth in the game, which has already been released in some parts of Europe already, with time just being taken to get the lingual stuff sorted out (again, judging by the accents and voice work we’ve seen so far, that all looks to be progressing nicely). Taking place in Alaska, the level features five different areas, which you can point and click Brian towards. The take the image of a flat set with a fixed camera, although you can extend some with walking, again achieved with a well aimed click. If you see an item on screen that you want to interact with, you simply left click to see Brian’s reaction to seeing it, or right click to see what he thinks about interacting with it.



The key for any point and click game is to get as much interactive content on screen at a time, and Runaway 2 certainly achieves that. You get rewarded with witty dialogue for coming up with some of the more bizarre item combinations or interactions, such as trying to cut a wooden log with what is essentially a rusted butter knife. The huge array of items are blended seamlessly into the cel-shaded scenery, and you have to be sure to check every single one to see if you can interact with it in anyway. Some items open up new lines of dialogue with other characters, so this can prove to be a bit of a problem in the long run.

The tasks given to you are also very intensely complicated, largely due to the laid back, often nonsensical approach. For example, there was a man filming some polar bears as part of his scientific research in Alaska. Brian had to catch a Salmon to serve as an antidote for poisonous berries eaten by his strange friend, and through much deliberation and hard work sifting through the items, you get a chainsaw, fuel, and oil, allowing you to cut a hole in the thick ice. I also found some ‘perfume’ in the scientist’s house, a ranger-style lookout post, and tried to use it to lure the bear away, as it was supposedly based on Polar Bear scents. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t promote random experimentation, as there’s no way to just click an area, or simply press use. You have to use something with something else, that’s the problem in my opinion, as you can’t freely experiment with the surroundings. I wanted to poke the bear with my hockey stick, but Brain wasn’t having any of it. In a way, it makes sense, as he turns to the camera at the start to ask for help, rather than for you to directly control him, so I suppose you’re giving him hints rather than telling him what to do outright. It was frustrating however when, after I used the chainsaw to cut the moose-head off a decaying sign, before bleaching it white, giving it to the scientist to use as a polar bear costume, that I was required to pretty much use the perfume with the scientist, to lure the bear away. Why I couldn’t just spray a rock with the smell, to get the bear to go and hump it so I could fish in its stream, is clearly frustrating, as you have to be on entirely the same wavelength as the developers, or have a strategy guide to decipher the code of compatible items.

That said, there’s heaps of charm, and there are plenty of serious point and click games – Runaway 2 simply chooses to provide something different.

The bright colours similar to The Wind Waker and XIII makes Runaway 2 very impressive visually at times, and it all looks like one big cutscene, which I suppose you almost expect from point and clickers, although there is more user controlled movement here than in most. Audio wise, the translation seems to be going brilliantly, and all the plot lines and hints required to get through the various puzzles come across well. Perhaps an option to request hints would be nice, as you can be utterly distraught that your hour of play has provided little more than an exploration of all the items in the scenery, with no clue as to what to do with them.



Still, challenging games are what many gamers want these days, and despite the vibrant colours and relaxed storyline, there’s heaps of grit and steel on show too. From the level we played, it seems the game should last you well over fifteen hours, especially if you choose not to go snooping on FAQs and walkthroughs on the net.

Runaway 2 should offer a pinch of nostalgia with heaps of fresh air in a FPS and action choked arena – stay tuned with us for a review in March, and while this sort of game has next to no replay value, there should be easily enough life and fun there, from what we’ve seen at least, to warrant another round of positive review scores for Pendulo.
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Ascaron/93 Games
Pendulo Studios
2009-03-07
PC