Review: Gemini Rue – a neo-noir sci-fi adventure game from Wadjet Eye

Gemini Rue screenshot - Azriel (475x317)
Review: Gemini Rue – a neo-noir sci-fi adventure game from Wadjet Eye

Platforms: Windows

Game Name: Gemini Rue

Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games

Developer: Josh Nuernberger

Genre: Neonoir, Cyberpunk, Sci-Fi, Point-and-click adventure

Release Date: February 24 2011

Developer summary

Azriel Odin, ex-assassin, arrives on the rain-drenched planet of Barracus. When things go horribly wrong, he can only seek help from the very criminals he used to work for. Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a man called Delta-Six wakes up in a hospital with no memory. Without knowing where to turn or who to trust, he vows to escape before he loses his identity completely. As fate brings these two closer together, we discover a world where life is cheap, identities are bought and sold, and a quest for redemption can change the fate of a whole galaxy.

What we think

Actors often ask “What’s my motivation?” as an exercise to get into the skin of their characters. Gemini Rue exhibits this in many ways by presenting character development through their dialog, learning new skills, and observation of the world around them. They are full of personality and the spot-on voice-acting and ambient music lend itself to the unfolding gem of a story. Through careful exposition both visually and aurally, Gemini Rue is not a tale that gives up its secrets quickly.

Two characters’ stories are told in parallel in this Cyberpunk Neo-Noir Adventure Game. You start off as Delta-Six, an otherwise anonymous inmate at what appears to be a high-security facility. You don’t know of his crime yet, but the scientists around him try to immobilize him with an apparatus meant to erase his memories. The leader amongst them disparages how the mind wipe may cause Delta-Six to forget some of the skills that he’s been taught at the facility, and that he’d have to train the inmate all over again.

Just as we’re reeled into this evocative conflict-in-the-making, we change scenes to follow in the footsteps of Azriel Odin. He’s navigating the decrepit city of Pittsburg on the planet Barracus, in search for defectors of the hegemonic grasp of the Boryokudan crime syndicate. By using Azriel to speak with the sparse locals visible to the public eye, we find out that the Boryokudan keep the locals under their heel through pervasive drug distribution and violent intimidation. Azriel’s personal quest to connect with old companions distrustful of the Boryokudan will come head-to-head with Delta-Six’s investigations into his own identity.

I do not want to expose a large percentage of the game’s expository tale when the game can express itself much more deliberately. Instead, I suggest that the game manages to articulate a humanistic look at the contradictory aims and ideals of a futuristic urban society (with obvious nods to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner), and how the power to incarcerate can easily become a mode of exploitation. This is more an underlying sentiment rather than something heavy-handed. Gemini Rue achieves this because it focuses on character stories and individuals relating to each other.

Nonetheless, the broader social themes here – should you chose to read into them more deeply – feel relevant when we live in a world with Guantánamo Bay and countries with arbitrary standards of justice. The game’s structure simply flows very well, regardless of how much you want to read into the narrative context. It encourages exploration and moves the story along. Indeed, the game can be compared to a book in the sense that, the more you learn about its world, the more impossible it is to put it down.

The game is crafted in a meticulous retro-style graphics, sporting a selection of memorable visual backdrops and settings. The environments are beautifully arranged with clear attention to color and scale. Items can be identified through both its illustrated cues as well as in pop-up dialog boxes when hovering over items with a mouse. Rather than detract from the experience, the character’s varied attitudes and thoughts regarding the objects around them lend life to the world.

Like other engaging adventure game titles, it triggers for the player a sense of in-game objects having more of a significance and function beyond what they have been shown within the game’s duration. Just as characters have histories in these narrative-driven games, so too do the objects, the streets, the organizations, and so on. Everything can be seen through somebody else’s eyes; The lucidity and pacing of Gemini Rue makes this relevant and spurs the player’s imagination on the “what-might-have-beens”.

Game mechanics are a form of point-and-click adventure and are straight-forward and unencumbered. You can chose to interact with any object or person with the following four options: look, speak, touch/lead, and kick/climb. Of course, depending on the context, the chosen action may become so out-of-character that it is declared preposterous.

The puzzles are non-arbitrary and lend a tangible logic to exploring futuristic environments. Non-interactive cut scenes are spaced apart and concise, but each offers increasing complexity to the storyline that it feels rewarding. Gamers who enjoy seeing a story through to its solid conclusion will find that Gemini Rue has much for them to explore.

Get the demo or the full game at Wadjet Eye Games

Get Gemini Rue on Steam

[xrr rating=”4.5/5″]

2 thoughts on “Review: Gemini Rue – a neo-noir sci-fi adventure game from Wadjet Eye

  1. Review is a special kind of writing. Readers expect some guidance. Not unlike other form of writing though, readers look for content and style. You’ve got both tightly knitted in there. A great read indeed.

    1. Thank you very much for your positive comments! I am definitely still working on keeping a balance of both adequate exposition and explanation (just as I have praised in Gemini Rue) as well as a readable style.

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