A handcrafted point-and-click adventure.
We haven’t played anything that looks or feels quite like Trüberbrook. It’s a classic point-and-click adventure where every set piece and locale has been handcrafted and it looks downright gorgeous.
Spearheading the adventure is Hans, an American physicist, who strikes lucky after winning a trip to the curious Germanic village of Trüberbrook on the lottery. The strange thing is though, Hans has no recollection of buying himself a ticket. The plot becomes increasingly curious as it grapples with elements of interdimensional travel, unexplained disappearances, and shady Three Masons-like organisations. It takes every trope from the book of sci-fi storytelling with its largest influences stated as Twin Peaks, Stranger Things, and The X-Files. The result is a fast-paced narrative that packs plenty of thrills and continues to delve into the unexpected.
Trüberbrook is your typical point-and-click adventure. You’ll interact with curious characters, comb the environment around you for collectable items and use them to solve a series of puzzles. There’s a total of four chapters (plus a prologue and finale) and these see you explore different areas of the town including the swamps, nearby weather station and an abandoned mine. It has an allure reminiscent of genre classics Grim Fandango and Monkey Island, and everything from these classic games remain intact, for better or worse, including rough edges such as a fixed camera angle and clunky movement system.
The adventure is steeped with charm, its script delivering more than a handful of laughs. Each character we met offered their own quirk from the sailor who was afraid of water, to the elderly former mine owner who mistakes a fox as his pet cat, Klaus. We also loved that we could instruct Hans to pull out his tape recorder and comment on his surroundings, such as the guest room’s disgusting fly-ridden buffet. With the adventure taking roughly 6-8 hours, it is a little on the short side. That said, we have certainly seen shorter (Her Majesty’s SPIFFING springs to mind) and with Trüberbrook’s budget price tag and tightly-woven narrative, it is pretty forgivable.
The lack of a viewable inventory really hurts Trüberbrook, however. After picking up an item there is no way to view it again until you later locate the object that it needs to be used on. Often, we would hastily pick up an item and then completely forget what we had gathered. Another criticism is that walking can be painfully slow. When navigating Hans you have to continuously click in the direction you wish for him to go and we wish there was the option to just use the analogue stick or directional keys. This is, of course, a staple of point-and-click games (it’s in the name, after all) but it’s tedious. We wish the developers toyed with other methods of navigating us across the gorgeous landscape.
Trüberbook’s slick interface allows for intuitive use of both a controller and keyboard. When interacting with an object or character you are presented with a wheel that displays options such as: talk, view, and interact. With an Xbox One controller, we could simply cycle through these options by rotating the analogue stick. There’s no mess of menus that you need to fight through, everything here just works. We found this to hold the upcoming console ports in good stead, as often point-and-click adventures feel optimised for a mouse and keyboard setup and struggle with the transition.
It may not stray beyond the well-worn point and click formula but where Trüberbrook does innovate is in its use of photogrammetry. Yeah, we hadn’t heard of it either. It’s essentially a technique that allows hand-built sets to be transported into the game and the result is, well, jaw-dropping. Every location has been hand-built by a team of artists and natural lighting has been used to display different times of day, as well as decoration for different weather conditions. The character models have all been computer generated, though – for the most part, they look great, but it was a little jarring how they would converse during key moments of the plot without moving their lips.
Our stay in Trüberbrook may have quickly wound to a close but we found ourselves eager to make a return after watching the credits roll. Its outlandish narrative packed plenty of thrills and we loved learning more about the mysteries surrounding the quaint Germanic town and its residents. The use of photogrammetry also delivered its own distinctive look and we found the controls to be a treat whether using a controller or mouse and keyboard. You should note that it is over in a flash, though, and suffers from a lack of an inventory system. That being said, we would still urge you to check this one out if you’re a fan of point-and-clicks and sci-fi flicks.
[Reviewed on PC]