Lucasfilm has a lot to answer for. When they set up their games division, no-one quite knew what to expect. We all thought we’d see a never ending flurry of Star Wars games. Instead we were introduced to a new gaming genre completely – the point and click adventure. It revolutionised the then dying text adventure genre and brought us classics like Monkey Island. This type of game, while slowed down in recent years, is showing no signs of disappearing as Demetrios from French developer CowCat shows…
Demetrios – The Plot
Originally released for the PC, Demetrios The Big Cynical Adventure was subsequently ported to consoles including the Nintendo Switch in 2018. In the game you take control of the protagonist, Bjorn Thonen, a jaded antique dealer living on the outskirts of Paris. He’s not the most successful of dealers and has a somewhat cynical outlook on life (hence the game’s title). All is well in his hum-drum life until one day when Bjorn finds his flat ransacked after returning home from a drunken night out. Broken into, disheveled (although he’s not sure if most of that isn’t of his own doing). He’s clearly been robbed. Getting little help from the police, it’s down to Bjorn (with help from his neighbour Sandra) to solve the crime and the mystery that begins to unfold before him…
Demetrios starts out in the living room in your flat. As you look around you try to discover what has been damaged or stolen. As you explore the flat we start to get an insight into Bjorn’s outlook on life and somewhat cluttered lifestyle. Amongst all of the objects in the room that you need for the adventure itself, there are others you can interactive with just to see what comments the game throws back at you. Each location also has cookies hidden in them. These can be used to provide valuable hints if you ever get stuck trying to solve a puzzle.
A Helping Hand
To make exploring each location easier, Demetrios has three features that prove invaluable to the would-be adventurer. The cookies, that I mentioned earlier, give players up to three hints per location. Most of the puzzles are taxing but not impossible so these should be more than enough for even the novice players. Secondly, on pressing the Y button, all of the hotspots are revealed to the player. This makes finding items to interact with much easier. For those of you wanting to explore for yourself there is option three. The game provides a zoom function using the right analogue stick to allow for a more detailed look at your environment. This way you can spot small items or things that you may have otherwise missed.
As with any point and click adventure, the puzzles are the heart of the game. Most are quite logical and fairly straightforward to solve with a little thinking. Some require taking object x to location or person y. Others need objects combining in order to create something new but nothing is too taxing to make the game impossibly difficult. Just enough to make you need a little brainpower but not to make it frustrating to play. What I did find quite refreshing was that some items needed to solve puzzles weren’t revealed until they were needed in the game. This helped the gameplay immensely. It meant that you were never left with an endless supply of objects in your inventory that you had no idea what they were for and kept gameplay tight and fluid.
Look And Feel
Everything in the game has been created by one person, Fabrice Breton. As well as the programming, he was responsible for the graphics, storyline and music. There’s no voiceover for the game’s dialogue so everything is just presented as on-screen text. While this is unusual for a modern point-and-click adventure, it doesn’t spoil the gameplay at all. Visually the graphics have adopted a hand drawn comic book style which works well and fits with the humour of the game. What impressed me here isn’t the fact that the visuals and music are particular stunning but rather the fact that this is something of a throwback to the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. A time when it was entirely possible for a single person to develop a game on their own and that left me with an incredible amount of respect for the developer.
A Sour Note
There was one element to the game that did leave me feeling somewhat uncomfortable and – to be honest, rather disappointed with the developer. I’ve really appreciated all of the work that Fabrice Breton has done with Cowcat, not only with this but bringing other titles to consoles since this game including Riddled Corpses EX. So that made it all the more disheartening to find what could only be regarded as a transphobic remark from the protagonist in the game.
Regardless of the intention behind it, or whether it was the developer’s intention to portray the lead character as being transphobic (or just generally obnoxious and unlikeable), it still doesn’t sit right and has no place in the game. It really did spoil the scene it was in and while brief, it simply had no need to be there.
As a debut game, I didn’t know what to expect, but Demetrios is an incredibly fun game to play. It’s taken at a relaxed pace so there’s no pressure while you play. The way it’s been written and scripted makes it ideally suited for play at home or on the move. It’s great value and marks a superb debut release for CowCat Games. My only real reservation to be honest is the issue I mentioned above which could put some off.
While I haven’t completed the game (at the time of writing this), I’ve only encountered one such incident but it’s whether that’s one too many for you to consider whether or not you can get past that in the game. If you can then you’ll definitely get your money’s worth from this one and you’ll be gripped from the start.
This review previously appeared on the Vita Player website in a different form.