As I have stated in my various other reviews of Point-and-Click games, I have a love/hate relationship with the genre. I can’t help but love the stories, the quirky characters, the often hilarious writing, the pop-culture references, the simple gameplay, and the usually insanely creative art. Yet, at the same time, I feel like so many are plagued with obtuse puzzles or with areas that are way too big for their own good, making it overwhelming and difficult to determine what to do next. People might argue that those aspects are part of the charm of the game, and that I therefore just don’t truly love the genre. They may be right, but I feel like there are ways to make an excellent Point-and-Click game without making me rip my hair out in frustration. Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure, by developer Stuck in Attic, is a game that is so close to being my perfect Point-and-Click game, and very well may be the closest I will ever play.
Taking place in a world where Lovecraftian stories are mixed with reality, Gibbous tells the story about the infamous Necronomicon and the many different parties trying to get a hold of it. In it, you alternate between two different characters: a grizzled (and often shoeless) detective Don R. Ketype and a younger, part-time student and librarian Buzz Kerwin. While searching for the Necronomicon, Don gets attacked and captured, allowing it to fall into the hands of the innocent bystander Buzz. After taking it home, Buzz reads from it and accidentally gives his cat, Kitteh, the ability to speak. Freaking out about the power in the palm of his hands, Buzz decides that he needs to find a way to turn Kitteh back to normal, and also figure out who captured Don and why this book is so important to so many people.
…the characters encountered along the way were extremely memorable./p>
The resulting globetrotting adventure, thankfully, is a story that I was fully engaged in. Twists and turns occur as the story unfolds, and the characters encountered along the way were extremely memorable. What helps this story the most is honestly the snappy and witty writing. From a Tim Schafer-looking witch doctor, or a potentially cannibalistic hotel owner, all the way to a whisky-downing drunk who won’t touch coffee because it’s the “devil’s drink,” there are just so many amazingly written characters who are worth exhausting all dialogue options with. Similarly, the writing for the main characters and their observations on the world were just as entertaining. (I particularly enjoyed the town of Darkham and the inevitable comments on its Asylum and its inhabitants).
The other major aspect of games in this genre that make-or-break it for me is the puzzles. And for once in my life when playing these games, I only had to use a walkthrough twice and I felt like an idiot afterwards for not putting the solution together in my head. To me, this is the greatest feat Gibbous could have achieved, seeing as I am used to saying “I would never have figured that out” at least three times in other bigger titles like Grim Fandango, Deponia, or Broken Age. The puzzles can definitely be “out there,” but the writing gives helpful and subtle hints when combining or placing objects, leading you more quickly to the answer. Again, I just cannot thank the developers enough for their non-reliance on “pixel-farming” for the puzzles.
… the writing gives helpful and subtle hints when combining or placing objects.
Unfortunately, the consistency of the quality of this story, writing, and puzzles seemed to slip towards the end of the game. Honestly, the only thing that held this game back from being “my perfect” point-and-click game was the final quarter feeling particularly rushed. Puzzles didn’t show up as much, characters didn’t have as much to say, and the plot really started to jump all over the place. I had at least a couple of instances where there seemed to be a whole chunk of game missing, and I had to consult the walkthrough to ensure that I wasn’t missing anything. Similarly, to avoid spoilers of any kind, I will simply say the ending seemed “abrupt.” I don’t know if there is any particular reason that the game felt this way, like lack of finances or other pressing issues; but to me, there was a noticeable shift in quality, which is a bummer.
However, what remained consistent in quality was the absolutely amazing artwork. Special shoutout to the couple of fully animated cutscenes that looked like they came out of a 90’s Disney film; I mean, wow were those great. As for the rest of the game, character animations were smooth, general character artwork and variety were oozing with creativity, and the art style used on them was just great. As far as the world and backgrounds go, they were some of the best I have seen in a point-and-click, rivaling even Samorost 3 and Lumino City in my mind. The art style was what piqued my interest in the first place, and is what maintained my immense enjoyment the whole time.
… fully animated cutscenes that looked like they came out of a 90’s Disney film.
Similarly, the audio work was top-notch as well. The soundtrack was great at creating ambient and fitting tones that matched what was happening on screen. I just can’t help but enjoy any soundtrack that opts for a slightly jazzy, orchestrated sound, similar to the classic Lucasfilm or the newer Double Fine games. The voice actors and actresses all did a great job bringing their characters to life – (also they had Doug Cockle who played Geralt in the Witcher series, so that made me giddy). After playing some games where I can’t stand certain characters voices, it was refreshing to experience one where I enjoyed what I heard the whole time.
Overall, as I’ve mentioned already, Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure was so close to being one of the all-time greats. The puzzles were great, the story was interesting and fun, the sound design was top-notch, and the visual design was bonkers good. The main thing that holds it back is the feeling of the final chapter(s) of the game feeling particularly rushed and choppy. When a game is so heavy on story and world building, and it feels like it just kinda falls apart at the end, you can’t help but just feel bummed out. Regardless, nothing is bad enough to even remotely ruin the experience, and this a game that every Point-and-Click adventure game should experience.
Yes, if you:
- Enjoy high-quality Point-and-Click games
- Are a sucker for some amazing, Disney-esque artwork
- Love puzzle games but hate feeling cheated by cheap, nonsensical solutions
- Like Lovecraftian fiction
No, if you:
- Need a story to make total sense from beginning to end
- Do not enjoy Point-and-click games (they aren’t for everyone, I know)
Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure released on August 7th, 2019 on PC at an MSRP of $19.99
Note: Cannonicity received a review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.