When I first heard of Trüberbrook, its hand-made aesthetics instantly caught my eye. I’m a massive fan of stop-motion, ever since I saw the creepy-ass skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts as well as Wallace and Gromit, I’ve loved the medium. I also love it when developers bring that medium into the world of video games.
Trüberbrook is the latest title to blend computer-generated imagery with hand-made sets and characters. Unlike Armikrog – which was solely hand-animated – Trüberbrook intelligently animates these hand-drawn characters in Unity making them flow more fluidly through the stunning hand-built sets.
One thing you’ll notice when you open Trüberbrook is just how stunning the game looks. While you may be a little confused by the Prologue, it won’t really matter as it’s definitely a sight to be seen. Even getting into the meat of the game and exploring the small German town of Trüberbrook I couldn’t help but spend half of my time exploring the incredible crafted world with my eyes.
As for the game itself, you take the role of Dr. Hans Tannhauser who mysteriously wins a trip to a little unknown German town of Trüberbrook. It’s the 60s, so clearly mail-order scams such as this are yet to be fully exploited and realized, I’m sure. But either way, Hans has been brought there for a reason, and after the first night, we discover why.
Not to spoil the story, players are basically roped into a sci-fi mystery in a similar vein as Twin Peaks and Stranger Things. Something supernatural is going on, and Hans is wrapped up right in the middle of it, along with paleoanthropologist and new companion Gretchen. Throughout the four chapters, you’ll find yourself doing all manner of things, from exploring the town, being interrogated by alien-obsessed scientists, and exploring ancient caves full of high-tech equipment.
Being a point and click adventure game, the usual tropes are here such as a story which can only really progress once all requirements are met, whether it’s a sequence of things to be collected, or the right dialogue has been reached. With plenty of things to interact with, the game can be quite tricky and really has you putting your thinking cap on. Once you reach a solution, you also get the satisfactory “AHA!” moment. Props to the developers as they’ve managed to create an adventure game that hits the balance between puzzles that require some thinking, but aren’t too obtuse that you’re left with a bitter taste in your mouth.
Some of the puzzles in Trüberbrook are actually really cleverly done. At first, they seem a little bizarre, but as soon as things start to click, it becomes so obvious. Though I will straight up admit, I had to consult the walkthrough supplied alongside the code as I well and truly got stumped a few times. This was largely due to one of the game’s mechanics being overlooked by myself.
Hans, being a physicist, takes a lot of notes for who I assume is his assistant, Beverly. He does this via a voice recorder, and for the most part, you can interact with most things using the voice recorder in which he makes entries about the situation. For the most part, this felt like more of an optional mechanic for those wanting to expand the story once more, however for one particular interaction using the voice memo actually helped progress the story.
I feel that the developers wanted to make it clear that the voice memo interaction is more than just what I assumed it to be, which again is a pretty nice way of keeping the player on their toes. It definitely encouraged me to explore this option a little more moving forward.
Some may not know that Trüberbrook actually became a reality following a crowdfunding campaign in which the game hit its goal within 48 hours. It’s an incredible achievement, especially for a relatively unknown studio, and throughout the game, you can tell the developers were appreciative as there are hundreds of nods to the several of the game’s backers, there are even entire rooms dedicated to backers, which is a nice touch.
I imagine as a backer of the game, finding these little easter eggs can be incredibly humbling, and they are introduced in such a way that it doesn’t break away from the experience, things like patient logs, photographs, guest books, and book authors, are littered throughout the game, which to those who didn’t know about the crowdfunding, would see it as a way of making the game feel a little more real.
As for the overall story, I actually enjoyed what Trüberbrook had to offer. While it’s a bit far-fetched, the game’s overall tone complimented the outlandish tale. Again, the developers managed to find the balance between storytelling and puzzle solving. While the game isn’t overly story heavy, there’s a fantastic tale to be told and a deep mystery involving corporate greed and classic campy comedy found in the pop culture of the 60s and 70s.
If anything, Trüberbrook is visually spectacular. Each and every hand-made environment is just a sight to behold. Every little detail, from the moss on rocks to the foliage in the not so distant landscape has been delicately placed. Each little nook and cranny makes you want to just reach in and touch and experience the game on a completely different level.
The game also does a fantastic job of capturing that humor from classic point and click adventure games like Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, and even Discworld. While the story itself isn’t a laugh a minute, the developers have tastefully injected humor in the right and often unexpected spots. Again, without spoiling anything, the scene with the suit of armor made me almost do a spit-take, yet without context, I knew exactly what I had to do.
While many may consider the point-and-click adventure genre to have had its heyday, there are many games recently, much like Trüberbrook, which are bringing this classic and beloved game style to a modern audience, and I for one welcome our pointy-clicky overlords.