A Golden Wake (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 10.10.2014

Review for A Golden Wake on PC

A Golden Wake is the first major release from Grundislav Games, with the developer previously having worked on many collaborations and smaller productions of similar types of adventure games. A Golden Wake comes with the major publishing clout from Wadjet Eye Games, who clearly has real pedigree at spotting point-and-click adventure games that grab the audience's attention through memorable characters, settings, and stories. This release swings in completely the opposite direction of the supernatural filled Blackwell series, though. Gone are the dark hospitals and imposing New York alleys and in their place come bright jazz-age 1920s Miami and events that are based squarely in reality (with some license taken for the sake of an interesting adventure game) about the rise of the ambitious Alfred Banks trying to strike it rich in the bourgeoning real estate market of Coral Gables. Does A Golden Wake strike it rich in the games' market, though? Read on to find out…

The game starts off in 1921 in New York and immediately introduces the charismatic lead character Alfred Banks, a typical all American early 20th Century go-getter who is a star in his real estate office. His character type is immediately recognisable as a basic trope - the sort of fiction and the personality that characterised this time period in America. There are certainly no new angles here, but his charisma and engaging voice, as well as some humorous dialogue, make him interesting to play as.

The story in A Golden Wake is slightly unconventional in that it is hard to identify a compelling story arc that overshadows every event. Instead it moves at a frightful pace from 1921 to 1935 across multiple locations, with many different errands tackled across this spectrum. There is plenty of variety in plot that comes with this, from Coral Gables starting as little more than a train station and a few buildings, to 1925 when it is a bustling hive of activity with a thriving crime community with mob bosses and rum smuggling.

It might put some off, feeling that they are not engaged any more than an errand boy - Alfred Banks - solving everyone's problems but not leading the plot, and the story never getting into a flowing rhythm. However, this maybe suits his character as the underappreciated suck up. Saying that, without spoiling anything, there is definitely a lot of character development in here for Alfie. One minor thing is the silliness of the device to begin the plot, with Alfie being fired for a ridiculous reason that leads him to Miami. Maybe the developer was trying to say something about the fragility of the job market at that time, in which case it might make sense.

Screenshot for A Golden Wake on PC

Puzzle solving will feel very familiar to those well versed in the 'Adventure Game Studio' engine used here, like in the Blackwell series. The inventory system is the same, and pointing-and-clicking items with other objects on the screen is still the order of the day. However, A Golden Wake does switch this up a little with very fun action set-pieces that add a much needed variety. One such example is a memorable scene that involves Alfie driving a car and keeping it steady for a wing walker to climb onto a fast moving plane. There is also a mechanic called seller's intuition that makes sense for an estate agent like Alfred to try and convince - and even lie to - people using a dialogue tree and choices. It works pretty well with information gathered whilst talking to that NPC about various subjects, helping explain what approach works with them. If failing to convince them occurs, there is always the old favourite of old time corrupt Miami of just paying them off with money. It really emphasises the atmosphere of the late 20s and early 30s that everyone could be bribed.

The art style doesn't stray very far from the established look of the genre and sticks very close to the retro feel of similar games. Unlike elsewhere, A Golden Wake brightens things up with more outdoor locations and does an adequate job, as much as this engine can do, of conveying sunny Miami in all its beauty. This isn't a game for fancy textures and stunning scenery, but when it comes to bringing alive the drinking den of Miami's high society men or the palm tree filled landscape, it works well and gives it a lot of character. There is certainly variety in the locations from high rise glamorous hotels like the Biltmore, to alligator infested Florida everglades.

Screenshot for A Golden Wake on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

A Golden Wake is a good first major effort from Grundislav Games and it is definitely a very positive sign of things to come from this developer in the point-and-click adventure game genre. The setting and atmosphere of the story has been criminally underused in games and will appeal to many people, especially anyone with a fascination for all things 1920s America or someone who just wants another bit of entertainment around the roaring-twenties jazz-age and Wall Street market crash. Alfred Banks is a very charismatic character but it is just a shame he is not a bigger player and always feels like the background man or errand boy. Additionally, the length is a bit of a shame. Still, this is a game that one needs to look at. Oh, and if indeed bought, keep an eye out for nice looking grandmothers…

Developer

Grundislav Games

Publisher

Wadjet Eye Games

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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