Developer/Publisher: Mad Head Games || Overall: 8.5/10
“Excuse me, sir. Are you a Point and Click?” I ask. A man slowly turns around, obviously annoyed.
“Don’t… assume… my… GENRE!!!”
Adam Wolfe isn’t simply a P&C, bro. It’s a HOPA and definitely not just an IHOG. In researching the different acronyms in this apparently expansive puzzle subgenre, I began getting confused. It’s almost as bad as sexual identity, and depending on who you ask they mean different things. IHOG means Interactive Hidden Object Game, whereas HOPA means Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure game. It all has a lot to do with “finding things” and doing things in a particular order, like a normal puzzle game would demand. The “adventure” part is where it gets really fun, though, and you are essentially playing what amounts to an intense Point and Click game. But fans of this subgenre would probably take that as an insult — it’s much more complicated than that.
“Point and Click doesn’t accurately describe the intricate distinctions that I associate my game playing with.”
Adam Wolfe probably has its design origins in those large puzzle books full of miscellaneous games that you would take 30+ years to go through. I have like six of them on my shelf and never ended up finishing them since many of the pages didn’t make sense to me (I was in elementary school), and also because I had better things to do. But besides that, most people would actually have interacted with the kinds of puzzles you see in Adam Wolfe if you went out to family restaurants a lot. You’re basically going to be getting flashbacks of Denny’s or Coco’s when you have to find the differences between two pictures, or find all of the objects in a stationary picture, among other things. But if you wanted to integrate a paranormal story filled with murder and gothic imagery, well I’ve got news for you…
Essentially what Adam Wolfe is, is a story about a precariously famous “paranormal detective” who investigates things that are just below his expertise level. Nothing Adam encounters is particularly surprising, challenging, or amazing to him, but he deals with it in such a manner that he’s definitely “dealt with some shit” in the past, and what he has to do now in his day to day is small potatoes. Although, the greater narrative, and challenge for Adam himself, is finding his missing sister. If you’ve ever seen the Sci-Fi Channel show “Dresden Files,” combine that with the “X-Files” and you’ve essentially got the set-up for the story. While we deal with supernatural content, it isn’t so mature that the story screams “for adults” — its about appropriate for older teenagers, and I was enjoying the story for the most part, despite being much older than a teenager.
Four episodes are available, with each about one-to-two hours long. While the first episode seemed more or less unrelated to the greater narrative of finding Adam’s sister, Episode 2 gets more involved, with a direct continuance into Episode 3 and 4. Unlike a few episodic games I’ve played in the past, this one definitely seems a lot more “planned out” in introducing us to the character and then developing him and the story over the course of the next episodes. There also is a further development of the types of puzzles you’ll encounter, keeping things fresh and interesting. Challenge is also very flexible, and the game has built-in hints and tips, as well as modifiers to help you have an enjoyable experience. While I didn’t want the game essentially solving things for me, I know that I get easily frustrated trying to find things when it comes to P&Cs in general, so I chose something in the middle. At any time you’re able to “skip” the puzzle you’re currently on by reading the guide, or clicking the recharging hint button; the narrative is a lot more fluid as a result and your interest in the game is less likely to wane due to frustration.
The actual kinds of puzzles you’ll be encountering is more or less standard point and click fare, with some notable exceptions. There will be extra challenges such as “Hidden Object” puzzles where you’ll have to find a series of objects in a pile of stuff in your pursuit to open a tool box or something like that so you can use that tool on a later puzzle. There’s also matching games, a derivative of the “what’s missing?” comparison between two pictures, and regular jigsaw-type puzzle games where you put pictures back together. The variety of different games are quite interesting, albeit not so horrendously challenging that you need to try over and over again. Presentation with the art, sound, dialogue, and voice overs is executed almost perfectly, with stylized graphic novel panels and animation style. If you take the puzzles out of the equation, you are basically involving yourself in a one-to-two hour long episode of a TV show, and the work you do makes the pay off of the story all the more invigorating.
Adam Wolfe is a good time. It is fun, interesting, and unique if you don’t usually venture into this genre. The story is the main draw, and has some pretty good writing involved, which is always a concern when you’re dealing with heavily-story based, episodic games. It also gets pretty intense when you pull out a gun and start shooting monsters, not something you’d normally expect for a “puzzle” game. It takes a while to get to the conclusion of the story, but like most episodic games, there’s always room for more down the line.