I got to play a review copy of the new point-and-click adventure ‘Demetrios’ by Cowcat games this week. I’m a big fan of point-and-click adventures, so I’m excited to be able to review this one.
Demetrios: the Big Cynical Adventure is a hand-drawn point-and-click adventure like classic games such as Sam & Max, Discworld, and Gabriel Knight. I grew up on these kind of games, and I still like them a lot, because they’re driven by narrative and character arcs.
Demetrios tells the tale of Bjorn Thonen, who comes home drunk one night, gets a cryptic phone call that he’s in danger, hears burglars in his house, and is subsequently knocked unconscious. He wakes up to find a tablet was stolen from a large bird statue he recently acquired.
Where the Blackwell series -which I also recently played – is a serious game with fantastical elements and some humour, Demetrios is more of a comedic game with fantastical elements. Mind, it’s not the cynical black comedy of the Whispered World, but more slapstick absurdistic comedy, like Deponia and Sam & Max hit the Road.
The game has nicely drawn art, and a lot of things you can interact with. The puzzles are not too difficult for the beginning player, and not too simple for the veteran like me. Compared to the brutally difficult The Whispered World and Discworld, this is refreshing. I might be getting too old for all those long games. The press info promised a ten hour game, and it took me exactly that to finish it, which I think is a fine length for a ten dollar game. I don’t have time to play for eight hours a day, usually only one or so, meaning a ten-hour game will take me a week to finish. 100-hour monsters like the Witcher 3 and DragonAge 3 occupied me for close to 3 months each, and by the end I was mostly just glad I was done. Ten hours is a fine length, I say.
Characters and plot
The main characters in the story are Bjorn and his neighbour Sandra. They get sucked into an adventure surrounding the large bird statue that Bjorn recently bought for his antique store. The story is reasonably solid, has some twists, and a real climax, which is a step up from many other video games, although it doesn’t stand out either. It’s not bad, but not good either.
The main characters are – when you boil them down – two regular Joes, or should I say a regular Joe and Jane? They don’t really have hidden depths, but a comedy doesn’t really need that. Again, not bad, but not really good either.
As I said, the plot and characters aren’t outstanding. One thing that really bothered me was that sometimes characters would act really out-of-character just to get in the quick gag. What you see here is the sock puppet writing smell. The hand of writer, trying to make things funny, shines through.
A second problem was the characters’ complete lack of emotions when involved in murder, violence, and grave-robbing, among other things. Those things affect people. Especially the kinds of people the main characters supposedly are. It jolted me out of the story at times, and again it seems to be a case of going for the quick gag without thinking of the character consequences.
And finally, this game is filled with toilet humour and simple gags – visually, in the plot, and in the dialogue. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I would personally have liked a bit more depth.
The game contains a lot of text, just about everything can be looked at or clicked on. I’m not a fan of quantity over quality, and I believe the game could have done with a bit less but better text. The same goes for the dialogue: there could have been less, but with more characterising and crisper. Also, although that would have made development far more involved, I would have liked voice overs. Voice acting brings characters to life as much as the writing and visuals do, and I missed that. But maybe I shouldn’t be picky.
Demetrios is a good way to while away a couple of evenings clicking, if you like point-and-click adventures.