Read any good urban fantasy books lately? No? Have you played any good urban fantasy games lately? Do you even know what urban fantasy is? Allow me to illuminate for you. Urban fantasy is defined as any work of fiction set in the real world, but containing strong elements of the fantasy genre. Vampires in the American South? That’s urban fantasy. Two brothers and an angel hunting supernatural menaces in an old Chevy Impala? Urban fantasy again. Will Smith joining forces with an orc to solve a murder? Urban fantasy.
There is a purpose to this long-winded pitch of urban fantasy as a genre. Adam Wolfe, a hidden object game from Mad Head Games, falls into the urban fantasy world. As I’ve said in prior reviews, the hidden object game is one that often has the potential to be underwhelming. After all, as the player, there isn’t much to looking for objects and clicking them. That is why the best of the lot tend to be those games which have rich worlds and varying mechanics.
Fortunately for me and you, Adam Wolfe checks off both of those boxes and then some.
Step into the shoes of Adam Wolfe. He’s a detective living in San Francisco. As all hard-boiled private investigators are prone to being, Adam is very down on his luck. He lost his sister, Ali, and has been doing everything to find her since. Only Adam doesn’t just stakeout suspicious perps and interrogate mobsters. Adam is a paranormal detective, combing through the darkest parts of San Francisco, where magic and crime combine.
As previously stated, Adam Wolfe is a game that plays to the strength of its narrative genre. I’ve read my share of urban fantasy books, mostly the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. Playing Adam Wolfe served as the Dresden Files gaming experience I didn’t know I needed. (I realize there is a collectible card game on Steam for Jim Butcher’s series, but that is neither here nor there.)
Urban fantasy can often be just as finicky as hidden object games: after all, how many ways can you write about a hard-done by detective solving mysteries with a touch of the paranormal thrown in for good measure? Adam Wolfe isn’t any different from many urban fantasy works out there in the world—specifically in the literary world. A more cynical person may likely play it and think it borrows too much from that genre. To me, it was a deeply engaging mystery with some real heart.
We’d be here forever if I only gushed about story.
I praised Persian Nights: Sands of Wonder for having such diverse gameplay that it didn’t even feel like a hidden object game. Adam Wolfe follows suit in this field. Certainly there are gunfights against suspicious bad guys. That’s really nothing new, especially for hidden object games in recent years. But Adam Wolfe also plays up the detective angle far better than, say, Noir Chronicles: City of Crime. Each case Adam takes along the way to finding out what happened to his sister contains some unique puzzle elements. Some of them came off a bit tedious at times, but again, I’m such a nerd for urban fantasy that I overlooked them.
Also, the game is a bit lengthier than your average HOG, but the chapters—clocking in about a ninety minutes for me—went by a little too fast. For a game that thrives on suspense, this pacing issue did come off as a little underwhelming for me, but for players who want something quick but not too quick, it’s perfect. Then again, I was playing it in a marathon session. Like any urban fantasy novel, Adam Wolfe would be better enjoyed as an episodic experience that players can put down and pick back up again at their leisure.
Anyone in the mood to really be in the heart of an urban fantasy will be right at home here. A compelling mystery, interesting puzzles and some quick-thinking action sequences keep Adam Wolfe from feeling redundant the way some HOG’s can be. Although brief in terms of overall length, the individual mysteries to be solved and the overall narrative regarding Adam’s sister, give the whole game the feel of being an interactive novel. While the animation and voice acting are rather good, the graphic novel aesthetic of Adam Wolfe deserves some serious praise for the art team.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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