1954 Alcatraz (PC) Review

By Adam Riley 31.12.2016

Review for 1954 Alcatraz on PC

German outfit, Daedalic Entertainment is renowned for its long heritage of point-and-click adventures, with some classics on its roster, from the Deponia series through to The Whispered World and its recent sequel, Silence. 1954 Alcatraz is definitely cut from the same cloth, firmly rooting itself in the point-and-click adventure realm, but takes more of an edgier direction, focusing on a tale of crime and murder. After all, not all adventures need to be squeaky clean and filled to the brim with humour, right? Cubed3 heads back to see how Irresponsible Games' creation from 2014 compares to Fictiorama Studios' similarly-dark themed 2015 hit, Dead Synchronicity, which Daedalic also published.

1954 Alcatraz… well, the setting of the game is right there in the name. Pretty handy, right? No subterfuge here, folks! Well, it all kicks off on what is known as "The Rock" - yes, just like the classic Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage action thriller from the mid-1990s - and follows the tale of a guy named Joe. Just your average sort of guy, with quite an apt name, you might say. He is locked up good and proper after being involved in a heist, then trying to escape incarceration by breaking free from his initial confinement, before being locked in the most impenetrable fortress. After convincing his wife, Christine, to help during a visitation, the plan is to do the impossible and scarper from Alcatraz to live it up somewhere in Mexico, complete with all of the cash the authorities believed was destroyed when the attacked armoured vehicle from the heist crashed and burned.

There is one major stumbling block, other than escaping from a place nobody else has escaped from. Back in the day, Joe received help from a shady character named Mickey, who now threatens Christine into handing over the money…except only Joe knows where it is hidden. Cue a lot of "give me more time" scenes.

Screenshot for 1954 Alcatraz on PC

Somewhere in San Francisco lies the jackpot, but Joe must get help from his wife to get the pay-day he has been waiting for, evading the police, the San Francisco mobsters on Christine's case, whislt at the same time both husband and wife must also abstain from extramarital relationships after being apart for so long and temptation rife. It all sounds quite the drama! Sadly, though, it lacks any fizzle or spark, with the story petering out almost as soon as it commences.

Therein lies 1954 Alcatraz' major issue: everything plods along at a slow pace, there are no twists to the tale, and the characters included are like stock images from a generic database. There is nothing to dislike, particularly, with it is being more a case of feeling such apathy towards everything and everyone. As a result, going through the motions of finding objects around the different places visited becomes chore-like, as does having to repeatedly travel around every location, asking the exact same questions (something Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure dealt with expertly) just to nudge the story along. It all grows tedious very quickly, reaching the point of frustration at times when what may seem obvious to those in control is clearly not what the developer deemed to be the correct solution. As for the touted character switching mechanic, it does not play out as smoothly as in the likes of the Broken Sword series, with the right moments to change over not always being apparent, and plenty of time being wasted by staying as Joe when the story needed Christine to carry out actions, and vice versa.

Unfortunately, it all misses the mark far too often, comes with bland presentation in every possible way, and even suffers from some translation errors in the script that should have at least been ironed out in updates since its 2014 release. Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today took a dark theme and placed it over an impressive, if not perfect, core. 1954 Alcatraz takes an intriguing theme are squeezes all the mystery and enticement out of it, leaving an empty husk of a game where players must go through the motions to reach the final credits. The saving grace comes from the branching pathways during the narrative and different possible endings on offer, which adds a sliver of interest to how events play out when other options are chosen. Only the hardcore will care enough to summon up the enthusiasm to work through again, though.

Screenshot for 1954 Alcatraz on PC

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

1954 Alcatraz has its own level of charm that helps it to just about keep its head above water. However, it also lacks any punch throughout. None of the characters are particularly beguiling, the puzzles faced are not especially memorable or even taxing, and the story itself only just holds the attention long enough to finish the approximately eight-hour journey. Thankfully, there are multiple junctures during the tale that are just about intriguing enough to warrant keeping multiple saves to see how things play out differently - but only the most perseverant will likely do so, with the majority just switching off post-credits. Those sticking around to see the ending variations, though, will find that 1954 will forever be resigned to the past, with no strong memories remaining at all, neither negative, nor positive.

Developer

Daedalic

Publisher

Daedalic

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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