MISSING: An Interactive Thriller – episode 1 review

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  • Format: Steam (version reviewed), Google Play, iOS
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Zandel Media
  • Developer: Zandel Media
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://www.zandelmedia.com/games/
  • Game code provided by PR

FMV games have come a long way since Night Trap. Well actually, they haven’t; they were just put out of our misery once people had finally got over the novelty of videogames being stored on shiny CDs. MISSING seeks to prove that these games still have a place in the 21st Century. But do they?

First released back in May (we just got a code; we didn’t get really, really stuck), MISSING: An Interactive Thriller is sort of like a cross between three things: The Saw movies, a student media project, and those mobile games you get with titles like Secret Mysterious Mysteries Of The Village Of Mysteries. The opening movie sees your chap regaining consciousness to find his arms shackled to the ceiling, so – hmm, well, that’s the problem. This is an incredibly short game (even the official site puts the running time at 45 minutes), so there’s a great danger of any review simply turning into a transcript.

It’s essentially a series of video clips punctuated by bursts of gameplay. The main character has been trapped, so you need to start the journey of escaping and finding out who has imprisoned the poor fellow – and why. You do this between clips with a bit of point and click, though we’re not talking about exploration and brain-racking puzzles here. There are puzzles, but the way they’re set up betrays the game’s mobile origins. You get two basic tile-sliding puzzles perfect for thumb swiping, a few ultra simplistic QTEs, and a crossword (yes, really) – but almost all the rest of the ‘Interactive’ bit boils down to finding the right bits in the scenery.

The correct code here is not, sadly, ‘WILLY’.

As you may have guessed, the episode at times crumbles into a tedious ‘hidden object’ exercise. That’s not nearly as bad as it could have been, though. This is partly because the very brief nature of the experience means you never spend too long looking for whatever it is you’re after, and there is at least a reason that you’re looking for whatever it is you want (even if where you find it doesn’t make much sense). That said, it’s rather telling that the devs felt the need to put in an achievement that’s unlocked if you “click 500 times anywhere”; and at time of writing over 82% of Steam players have this achievement (though we’re not among them).

As for the video, it’s well produced, but seems a gigantic missed opportunity. All tongues are kept strictly out of cheek here. The problem with playing it straight on film – especially if you concentrate on just one person at a time – is that the acting needs to be superb to pull it off. The acting here, while not terrible, is not superb. It’s good enough for the purposes of the game, but nothing more. A layer of irritation on top of this that we got, but isn’t a common issue so far as we can tell, is that what little dialogue there is was muffled by the music so much it was completely inaudible. There are, fortunately, subtitles.

“Please hurry up in there! I REALLY NEED A POO!!”

It’s impossible to judge the story on this episode alone, and the script doesn’t – in truth – do enough here to warrant much comment. We’re still interested to see what happens next, but you shouldn’t pay any more than the £1.99 being charged at Google Play.

critical score 6

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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