1112: Episode 1: Episode 1 is a first-person adventure game with an unusual art-house feel. It doesn’t play like most other adventure games we’ve seen; in fact, if you pressed us, we might call it a “tapping detective game,” since you tap around the screen so often. Unfortunately, though the backgrounds and character models are beautifully drawn, and the environments are very interactive, 1112: Episode 1 leaves a whole lot to be desired as a game.
You play as Louis, one of the game’s panoply of unlikeable characters. Standing in your room, you have a first-person perspective of the scene, and you tap the on-screen objects and people to interact with them. To the game’s credit, practically everything can be interacted with in some way. For instance, if you tap the picture on the wall, you can examine it, turn it around, or steal it. Tap on a person and you can talk to them, beat them up… or if it’s your wife, a certain lascivious option is provided. The game also provides you with an inventory of items, a list of characters, a conversation log with each person, and a map. Using the map gets you around much faster than clicking on the door and hitting ‘open,’ but it doesn’t speed the game experience up by nearly enough.
1112: Episode 1 will take you to a few different venues, such as the City Square, your wife’s grocery store, a pharmacist, and your house. Each one of them–your house in particular–is gorgeously rendered and personalized. Every new place you visit will give you opportunities to find stuff and talk to people, and in some cases, Louis manages to be pretty funny. The sound design in each room is different depending on the music source, certain items have an amusing sound, the menu screens are impeccable, and so on.
It’s a shame that all of this effort went into such a weakly plotted, short game. Since this is Episode 1, nothing is resolved at the end, and we don’t like seeing ‘TO BE CONTINUED’ at the end of a game we paid $8 for. The entirety of the plot could be summed up in one very short sentence, and though the game could conceivably take a few hours to get through, we were completely done in 80 minutes and left with no replay value.
Putting a piece of the puzzle together generates a certain limited satisfaction, but most of the game’s interactions are disappointingly shallow. You’re basically tapping the screen a whole lot for very little payoff. And conversing with characters isn’t much better. When we sparred with Anna, our video game wife, we liked Louis’ (who looks exactly like Johnny Depp in The Ninth Gate) haughty pose… but we liked it substantially less when we found out it was the only pose Louis ever strikes in conversation. By the same token, you can enter conversational topics with a keyboard, but there’s only one word that actually works. Anything else you come up with will give you a series of blank looks. Plus, the English localization for all of the dialog is pretty awful.
1112: Episode 1 is a beautiful game in many ways, but these gameplay issues snowball into a play experience that goes from “interesting!” to “hit the home button and get me out of here!” very quickly. We hope that the developer works to address some of these problems in the next chapter of 1112. In the meantime, only major adventure game fanatics will find this purchase worthwhile.