Demetrios: The Big Cynical Adventure (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 05.01.2019

Review for Demetrios: The Big Cynical Adventure on Nintendo Switch

Owners of a Nintendo Switch and fans of point-and-click adventures rejoice, as the hybrid system becomes host to yet another title in the same style! It is true indeed, and this is an ascertainment that has to be made every time a representative of the genre comes out on the system, that the portable and touch-screen nature of the system lend themselves well to ports of games of that genre that already exist in fully portable form on smart devices, be it on iOS and Android. This also being a home console, this does mean that ports of games out on other home systems as well as smart devices become suddenly a no-brainer. Demetrios: The Big Cynical Adventure is no exception since it already came out on home systems, PC, and smart devices (read Cubed3's reviews here). It now remains to be seen how well the game made the transition over and how good it actually is.

Bjorn, the protagonist in this story, is an antique arts dealer, though he deals mostly in fake and totally worthless junk that could hardly pass for antique art. As a result, he is flat broke, though the game never explains or gives any reason as to how he still has his shop, his apartment, and apparently the means to keep going on feeding himself. On a dark night, he falls victim to a burglary at his apartment in Paris, and upon waking up and checking things, he discovers that a sole piece of art, or rather what he thought was always just another piece of junk at least, was stolen from his living place. The adventure then begins for the anti-hero, as he will be embarking into a personal quest to discover who did this and more importantly, why.

Bjorn will have to travel around, meet people, and do mostly a bad job of investigating this case, as point-and-click adventure protagonists tend to do, but eventually succeed at solving the mystery. This all comes with the promise of a hilarious and, as hinted in the title, cynical adventure, as the main selling point. Sadly however, for all the advertised cynicism, that part of the game, which is to say the writing itself, feels a bit flat and bland, and it all seems to come down to the English translation. This reviewer, being a native French speaker, went back and forth between the French script (the native language in which the game was written) and the English one, and found out that a lot of the French pop culture references and a lot of the humour did not survive the translation well.

Screenshot for Demetrios: The Big Cynical Adventure on Nintendo Switch

Some references are completely absent altogether because they did not have an English language equivalent, or were replaced by something a lot more generic that makes it a lot less funny to read. This could be either because the translator did not understand the references for not being fluent in French themselves or knowledgeable about French pop culture, or because the translator was French itself but did not know about English pop culture or the language itself enough to perfectly transcribe the humorous situations and speech from Molière's language to Shakespeare's. Given some of the slightly weird wording found here and there though - typical of native French speaking people using English as a second language - there is a strong suspicion that the case in point was the latter rather than the former. Even then however, the humour to be found even in the original language can be a bit hit or miss anyway.

There is a peculiar option implemented however, which allows to tone down or turn toilet humour off altogether. This results in completely different object descriptions or even different lines of dialogue being used instead of the base, raw script, and this can even be reflected in the visuals as well, with some disgusting stuff found in the scenery being removed. Some of the very graphic toilet humour can indeed sometimes feel not funny at all, and simply make the hero unlikeable rather than funny. Therefore, the fact that this option is there leads to the following feeling: to the right audience, the writing will feel better with toilet humour toned down or turned off completely.

Screenshot for Demetrios: The Big Cynical Adventure on Nintendo Switch

Indeed, reading something that is intended to be funny but actually isn't... is more painful than reading out something that is written with a normal tone without a humorous intent. It makes the product feel better for it because toned down bad humour is always better than bad humour being thrown out all over the place for no reason at all. But then there are likely people out there who will still be into this kind of thing, and find it funny since humour is a very subjective thing - objectively, though, the humour at use here will not be for the majority of people like something akin to Sam & Max or Monkey Island which are a lot more clever with their writing, but the likes of which, again, can sometimes not translate best over to French for example, though those bigger games with a lot more budget behind them tend to still do a better job, and understandably so.

This not-so-cynical adventure then unfolds through a handful of chapters with the protagonist looking into the burglary that took place at his apartment and the overall structure is entirely classic as it requires to find clues in the environment and combine them together, or use them at the right time and place to further the story. It's all very classic in its approach, save perhaps for the hint system requiring the player to find literal cookies of the chocolate chipped nature hidden on every still screen of the game, which serve as a sort of currency to trade for said hints that help players know a bit better what they are expected to do next.

Screenshot for Demetrios: The Big Cynical Adventure on Nintendo Switch

This is actually perhaps one of the best hint systems seen in a game of this type since hints are not for free, but require the player to seek out the means to unlock hints and, while looking around for cookies, it is quite possible that the solution itself may be found by accident, so that the player may end up working out the solution without meaning too. It is very clever - in fact, this is not the only part of the game that is very clever.

Note that this relies on stick controls in docked mode, rather than a mouse like cursor controlled by gyro, which is disappointing, as Okami HD clearly demonstrated that it can be done right. Demetrios uses a two joysticks approach where the left joystick controls the cursor as normal like in every other game but the right joystick however also controls the cursor, but a lot more slowly allowing to pinpoint smaller details of the scenery for interaction while also using a sort of "magnifying lens" zoom on the area of the screen where the cursor is, which makes reading tiny details even a few feet away from the television extremely easy but this also extends to handheld mode where the screen is a lot smaller. That such a clever approach to gameplay would pop up in a game designed by one single person and not in some of the bigger projects out there, is a real marvel. Other studios with similar projects coming up to the Switch should definitely take notice.

Screenshot for Demetrios: The Big Cynical Adventure on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Demetrios: The Big Cynical Adventure has a lot of qualities going for it, all of which centred in the gameplay department... but it stumbles in at least two of the main draws of a point-and-click adventure. The lack of voice acting in this day and age is regrettable in and of itself, but not necessarily bad, considering this was a one-man project on a tight budget. The main issue is with lack of quality writing stemming from the translation, which is always the main attraction of this type of game, and the comic book art style, which is just average. Players starving for this type of game on Switch could do better on the same platform with the breadth of other games in the same vein already available, yet this may still be worth checking out at some point, with expectations kept in check, because it does everything else right.

Developer

Cowcat

Publisher

Cowcat

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

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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