reviews\ Jan 3, 2006 at 7:00 pm

MISSING: Game of the Year Edition - PC - Review

The point-and-click adventure genre. Ah yes, the point-and-click adventure-game genre. It’s one of the easiest gaming interfaces ever created and one of the most popular genres around today. Most casual fans know the genre just by one name, Myst. The hardcore fans of the genre know there are a wide variety of games that describe the genre. But where are the new ideas for the genre? Where will the genre be five years, 10 years or 20 years from now? Maybe one game has the answers. The game is called Missing.

The premise behind Missing is just the first innovative part of the game. I shouldn’t even call Missing a game because it tries very hard to hide the fact that it’s a game. The plot centers on the disappearance of Jack Lorski and his friend Karen Gijman. The game isn’t supposed to be a game played on a CD-ROM, not at all. In fact the CD-ROM that you “play” was created by an individual called “The Phoenix” who has requested that the CD-ROM be released to the pubic. Jack’s employer, SKL Network, and its CEO have decided to release the CD-ROM to the public in hopes of solving the mysteries hidden on the disc. Got it?


Now imagine yourself playing a point-and-click adventure game with the usual puzzles you have to solve. Now add to that mix the ability to search the Web, checking emails and watching short films to uncover clues to solve the puzzles. It seems like a simple idea but one that hasn’t been used frequently in point-and-click adventure games. In Missing you can imagine yourself playing the role of criminal investigator, just like a character in a TV show or a movie, trying to find clues to solve the puzzles of the mysterious Phoenix. The CD-ROM from the Phoenix is loaded with graphic and disturbing imagery that you need to sort out in hopes of finding where Jack and Karen have disappeared (or been taken) to.  Instead of just wandering around a virtual world inside a game you now can use the resources of the Internet to help you.


The “game” includes a toolbar that you can access to go to the Internet or check your e-mail account to help in solving puzzles. The Internet access will always take you to the SKL Network’s Web site where you can find different bits of information on Jack and use different tools such as an Internet search engine and translation Web page. The e-mail part of the “game” requires you to setup your e-mail account so you can receive bits of information and clues from SKL Networks and other individuals trying to crack the CD-ROM. The Game of the Year edition of the game requires you to download a patch in order to receive e-mails since the server of the developer was changed after the initial release of the game.

The meat and potatoes of the game is spent trying to figure out a puzzle by the Phoenix to open up the next part of the CD-ROM. I will be honest and admit that I thought the puzzles in the game were very tough. The game, excuse me, “Phoenix” doesn’t want you to waltz right through the CD-ROM. The puzzles will have you searching several different Web sites and reading various e-mails from other players (actually computer generated e-mails to help you along) to uncover the right clue. Once you entered the correct answer(s) usually another short film will play to advance the plot and give you some more clues as to where Jack and Karen might have disappeared. Then you need to solve the next puzzle to move on to the next part of the “game.” Some of you might be thinking to yourselves “Is that it?” and the answer is yes. But that’s the beauty of the point-and-click adventure game. It’s about solving the puzzle, and uncovering the mysteries in the game.


After a few minutes the mysteries of Missing will really start to grab you and make you believe that this could have actually happened. You really could be helping to try and find Jack and Karen. The game is always dark, mysterious and at times graphic in its visual presentation. One minute you're watching a happy video of Jack and Karen and then the next minute you see Karen screaming as someone, Phoenix, is videotaping her trapped in a locked dungeon-like room. The screen, at times, will flash and change it seems a will to try and keep you guessing as to what you might discover next on the CD-ROM. The music and sound effects are creepy and moody with the “voice” of Phoenix being just a low noise while words are typed on the screen. You never get to hear the Phoenix but the same sound effect will play while the words are typed on the screen, telling you about the next puzzle or other bits of information. This is definitely a game to play with the lights out and one that will probably leave you feeling a little jittery at times.

 Missing is a great experience that shouldn’t be passed up for anyone that is looking for a great adventure/mystery game. I really believe that an accurate and fitting description of the game really can’t be put into words. You have to experience the game yourself to understand just how involved the game will try to submerge you. If someone just made a friend sit down and play the game I would be surprised if the friends commented that they thought the game was a true-life experience. Searching the Web and getting clues via e-mail is a novel approach to the standard adventure-game genre but an idea that could be the wave of the future. Why not search the real world for answers? Isn’t that what life is all about anyway, one big game?

Review Scoring Details for Missing: Game of the Year Edition

Gameplay: 8.5
You might not want to go back to other adventure/mystery games after playing Missing. Why just play a game when you can search the real world for answers. Unfortunately the real world is still limited a little in the Missing since finding the correct clues on the Internet usually would require you to use the default search engine on the SKL Network’s Web site.

Graphics: 8.5
You need to know that this game doesn’t run a game engine that is usually built into a game. The game is played out via QuickTime movies or flash animations built upon a point-and-click interface. But the images in the game are striking, breathtaking and disturbing at times. Fans of psychological thrillers/horror movies will appreciate all of the subtle touches in how the game looks.

Sound: 8.7
I never thought words typing on a screen could give me the chills but the sound effects associated with Phoenix, while he typed, did at times. The music in the game is really just atmospheric and ambient music to set the tone of the game. But the music and sound effects do a great job in creating the spooky conditions for the game.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard
The puzzles in the game can be extremely tough at times, especially with the expansion pack, The 13th Victim. You will probably spend hours on some puzzles and then just a few minutes on others. Even searching the Web for clues from other gamers on how to solve some of the puzzles can be difficult since everyone doesn’t want to give away all of the answers.

Concept: 9.0
Missing: Game of the Year Edition is a collection of the original game, the expansion pack called The 13th Victim and a behind-the-scenes making of the movie. The original game might be over a year old by now but it’s still innovative and risky compared to the standard point-and-click adventure game. One issue for some players could be the gameplay time of the expansion pack, which is only at 10 hours. If you’re clever enough you might breeze through the expansion pack in less than one day.

Overall: 8.7
Missing: Game of the Year Edition is a fantastic title that should be on everyone’s must-get list. If you’re not sure of getting the Game of the Year edition I’ve even seen just the regular game at various retailers at a consumer-friendly low price. I have to admit that I didn’t play the game when it first came out but I’m thankful for having played it finally. It’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed by anyone that loves PC games.


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