The lovely thing about game festivals being held on a large platform is that a wide array of people can find a new game to get hyped for. The not lovely thing is that there are often far too many games to choose from, leading to much choice overload. Among the selection is an impressionable game by the name of Trouble Hunter Chronicles: The Stolen Creed, a hand-drawn Point & Click adventure by Iskonsko Studio, also notable for the Twisting Vines adult visual novel series. Inspired by genre classics, it hopes to modernize for present gamers.
I’ve had my fair share of Point & Click titles in my life, most recently with Clam Man and Edgar: Bokbok in Boulzac. Something with more of a story-driven, casual approach to interactivity can be nice in regular intervals, which made Trouble Hunter Chronicles appealing. But with just a demo, how much is there to look forward to? It really depends on how your brain is wired.
Trouble Hunter Chronicles: The Stolen Creed is available to play as a demo until October 13th on Steam. It’s slated for release in Spring of 2021.
One of the first questions one will inevitably asked when faced with a game demo is, “How long?” Trouble Hunter Chronicles, the first time, took me a roughly an hour. Not all of that was simply progressing the story, however. I would gauge that almost half of that was fumbling around with various menus and trying to determine how to get this concierge to get me a pen. From beginning to end, one will be limited to only two accessible rooms, a third if you count a still image with dialogue options. Very little in overall content, it’s a bite-sized piece that doesn’t stray far from what the descriptions state.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Point & Click might be one of the most self-explanatory game genres out there. Though if still inexperienced, the developers provide a quick (and unskippable) tutorial just before the game really begins. Essentially, you can left and right-click interactable items to distinguish various actions among them. For example, you find a knife—you can inspect it, grab it, use it on something, etc. There is no shortage of things that one can interact with in each of the two rooms available, and a large portion of the intro sequence deals with simply experimentation and getting to know the lead character.
As referenced above, a sizeable portion of my first playthrough was simply fumbling around, unable to figure out what to do. Clicking and inspecting and re-affirming actions over and over, it got pretty tedious by the end. Upon finally figuring it out, I had to laugh, thinking I would have never been able to solve that if I didn’t just randomly click buttons (which actually occurred a couple times). One must be very creative in how they use items, as while some seem pretty intuitive, others aren’t as clear-cut. This is definitely something of veteran’s game, if my limited experience can provide such input.
For additional data, upon my second playthrough, when I knew how to solve everything, the demo took me five minutes.
From a performance standpoint, everything seemed to work as intended, save one thing. When selecting an object to use with/on another, it never seemed to register what it could belong to, causing a lot of mouse traveling until objects would eventually light up. Later in my playthrough, I discovered that simply clicking in the general area of the object would register it, but it’s unclear if that was the intent. Simply hovering the mouse over an interactable object would have it glow, a sure sign that one can click it. Yet if they tried to use an object on/with it, that wouldn’t occur… generally. Would be a lot more intuitive if it did, and caused some hassle early on.
Otherwise, the size sample is a bit hard to recommend it for players outside the puzzle/Point & Click fandom. Very little was developed to establish any character intrigue with the lead and what was there felt entirely too general, save their desire to drink and not work. The puzzle-solving, while occasionally iffy in execution, served well to incite curiosity and experimentation.
Something that might seem odd had you clicked the video trailer above is that Trouble Hunter Chronicles looks a little different now than it did a month ago. It seems development of the art style is still currently in transition, going from one style to another, and this is the current build. To say it’s improved is probably debatable, as some portions looked cleaner to me before than how it currently is. Even still, with how small this demo is, it’s hard to state anything concretely.
One of the game’s selling points is the “hand-drawn” aesthetic, something that many indie developers use as a distinction from the generally pixel stereotype. To its credit, it doesn’t look too bad, with character portraits specifically being nice and detailed. The aforementioned concierge was probably the nicest-looking thing in this demo. Background scenery is more of a mixed bag, as the details aren’t much better than surface level. Not a whole lot of shadowing, lines are not generally straight, and colors are singular. It’s something that could be neat within a certain context, but for an immersive, emotional tale of war and whatever else they plan on, it feels a little underwhelming.
Something that could be neat is if the world were shown through the lead’s eyes, and the lack of empathy drives him to see everything rough, disheveled, and bereft of life. But I might be getting ahead of myself.