previews\ Jul 23, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Runaway - A Road Adventure - PC - Preview

Mystery and danger come together in this exciting adventure from Tri Synergy, Runaway: A Road Adventure. Gina, a night club entertainer, is being chased by the mob after she witnesses her father's murder. They also suspect that she is in possession of a mysterious crucifix that they want for some unknown reasons. Gina teams up with Brian, a graduate student on his way to school, after his car hits her during her mad dash away from the mob. Together they must figure out the secret of the crucifix, while eluding the mob. Fortunately, Brian is possessed of considerable brains, and is conscientious to boot.

This is a traditional "point and click" adventure game that focuses on inventory gathering and puzzle solving to drive the story forward. Dialogue is present, but is not as prevalent as in some adventure games. The story is involving and interesting, with plenty of exciting twists as Gina and Bruce try to stay one step ahead of the mob. Bruce is a nice mixture of humor and slight nerdiness; Gina, on the other hand, comes across as a whiny starlet who tries to keep Bruce at her side by constantly accusing him of wanting to abandon her. I guess her very minimal attire is her tactic to ensure he stays close by. The other characters are just as detailed, with many of them having odd personality quirks that add to their appeal.

Runaway is an animated cartoon, reminiscent of games like should be games like Curse of Monkey Island. For the most part, the backgrounds are brightly illuminated, except for some instances in dark corners, where inevitably, there is some important object that needs to be picked up and placed in the inventory. Unfortunately, failure to see the desired object often causes the gameplay to screech to a halt, as this is a very linear game. Also, oddly enough, oftentimes certain objects can't be picked up until later, as in very early in the game when Brian looks in Gina's bag in the hospital and mentions only a matchbook and crucifix, then later inexplicably can pluck a wig out of the bag. This leads players to have to constantly recheck highlighted items to see if they can be suddenly used yet or not. To be fair, though, most of the time Brian will give hints that these things may be used later, and will often give more precise hints as to their possible use when actually needed.

Puzzles are an important part of any adventure game, and there are plenty of 'em to keep everyone busy. Most of them are fairly logical, at least within the story constraints, and many require two or more to be combined in some way. However, as stated before, sometimes a needed object is hard to spot, and sometimes an object may have already been looked at before it was needed and players may waste some considerable time before thinking to go back and recheck. Despite the slight frustration this entails, the puzzles for the most part are fun to work out and will give players much satisfaction when successfully resolved.

The animation is very cool, and the cutscenes are wonderful!

The sound is some of the best I've ever heard in a game of this type, and fits the tone of the story very well. It changes in tone and beat to reflect the mood of the story and does so smoothly. I truly enjoyed listening to the music. The voice acting is also nicely done, and the English translation has been handled well.

As a big fan of adventure games, I was pleased to see this beta version come across my desk. I've enjoyed playing it, even though I'm not that fond of linear games, preferring to have more freedom to wander around the gameworld, but the story, humor and puzzle quality have kept me interested. However, I have to say that the designers' extreme sexualization of a female main character has somewhat dampened my overall enthusiasm. I've basically gotten tired of looking at Gina's very oversized breasts that are only minimally covered by clothing. Funny how Brian (who is a guy, in case you missed this) always seems to have on adequate clothes, even when he transforms into Mr. Cool at the end of the game.....

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