Version Reviewed: North America
It’s rare these days to experience a Kickstarter game that doesn’t make you want to pull your hair and punch your TV screen in frustration– wishing you’d never backed that game. I’ve been a masochist when it comes to Kickstarter games, and I’m happy to report that Gibbous – A Cthulhu Adventure is nothing but a commendable achievement. Gibbous puts you in the center of a comedy horror adventure point-and-click game that is everything a point-and-click game should be, and some. Considering this game was developed by a small team of only three people from Romania, developer Stuck in Attic crafted a brilliant game that left me with a big smile on my face by the time I was done with it. The Nintendo Switch is home to many incredible ports, and Gibbous stands not only as one of the best ports I’ve played on the Switch, but also as one of the best point-and-click adventures games I’ve ever played. Let us dive in and explore why this Transylvania-inspired game should be on the top of your must play Nintendo Switch games.
The game relies on three main protagonists you’ll get to control throughout the story– detective Don R. Ketype, librarian Buzz Kerwan, and a hilariously-funny cat, Kitteh. Detective Ketype is hired to locate the Necronomicon, a witty name given to a tome that’s known to carry magnificent powers. In search of the tome, detective Ketype arrives at a library in the dark city of Darkham, where he meets young librarian Buzz Kerwan. Buzz is quick to inform detective Ketype that the Necronomicon is nothing more than a legendary tale. But it appears detective Ketype may indeed be onto something when a mysterious package, addressed to Ketype himself, is suddenly delivered to the library. When Buzz gets the package, he hears a ticking clock inside and unexpectedly, the package explodes– giving an unknown suspect the opportunity to kidnap detective Ketype from the library.
The explosion exposes a glowing light behind a wall and when Buzz investigates the light, he discovers the Necronomicon book! So much for a legend, huh? In shock, he takes the book back to his house where the unthinkable occurs. As he reads a few pages from the book out loud, he accidentally casts a spell that grants his cat the ability to speak. In an effort to undo the spell he’s unleashed, save detective Ketype, and discover the mystery behind the Necronomicon, Buzz and his now-talking-cat, Kitteh, set out on a memorable and delightful Transylvanian adventure destined to encounter sinister cultists, voodoo magicians, and plenty of humor along the way.
Gibbous – A Cthulhu Adventure is everything you’d expect from a point-and-click adventure game, so be prepared to do a lot of reading and clicking. When the story is not making you laugh with its humorous approach, you’ll find yourself exploring areas with one of the main three characters you’ll get to control. Fortunately, the developer implemented touchscreen support, allowing you to bypass certain buttons and use your fingers to quickly navigate your explorations with the touchscreen, a feature you’ll only be able to use if you play the game in handheld mode. The more I played the game, the more I found myself relying on the touchscreen and abandoning some of the buttons altogether.
You’ll spend the majority of your time investigating objects, some will simply provide you with information, while others you’ll get to take with you on your adventures. Some areas can be full of clickable hotspots you can explore and this can be rather tedious at times. Having to go through each hotspot on the screen to find out if they provide a clue or if its an item you need to take with you can be bit daunting. However, if you are familiar with point-and-click games, that’s exactly what they are all about, point and click, explore, and repeat.
While I wish the developers would have simplified explorations with far-less items to explore, I credit them for making them super easy to identify. If you hold down the L button or touch the eyeball icon located on the top-left corner of the screen, you’ll be able to see everything you can explore in each area. The right analog stick will then aid you in moving the cursor from one hotspot to the next, a preferred control you can use over the left analog stick which acts as a clunky mouse cursor. As you progress through the game, items you’ll get to take with you will prove crucial to solve puzzles and unlock mysteries. If you press the A button, or perhaps use the touchscreen support method, you’ll open up a window displaying your inventory items. From there, you can select items and apply them to puzzles you are trying to solve. For example, if you have a key in your inventory, you can drag it to a locked door knob to unlock it.
You can get stuck in this game if you don’t have a certain item in your possession, a lesson I quickly learned when I got lazy exploring areas leaving many items behind. Some puzzles can actually be challenging and you’ll have to carefully look at the items in your inventory and how those apply to the environment around you. If you are as bad at puzzles as I am, you can always rely on the “click-on-everything” approach and eventually you’ll figure it out. But I advice you against it, as it takes away some of the fun from strategically thinking about how to solve the puzzles in the game.
The D-pad is pretty useless other than it provides you with a zoom in/out option in order to better see the areas you’re in. You’ll also have a chance to speak to people in the game as part of your journey, something you must do in order to progress through the story. During those conversations, you’ll get to ask a series of preset questions. I naturally tried to use the D-pad to scroll through the questions I wanted to ask, only to find out I had to use the left analog stick or the touchscreen. Not a big deal, but it felt unnatural to me having to use the analog stick versus the D-pad.
The game’s art is influenced by LucasArts games from the 90s and classic Disney films– a dazzling tribute to those who played point-and-click games during that era and a warm welcome to new fans alike. The game’s cutscences give Pixar a run for their money and the hand-drawn Transylvania-inspired architectural backgrounds are simply fascinating. While I mentioned the exploration can be a bit daunting, the art totally draws you in and hooks you like a fish. Exploring areas that are so full of color and packed with gorgeous animation, you’ll get to experience the type of graphical fidelity you’ll rarely find on a Kickstarter game, let alone a game made by three people.
While the entire game takes place in the dark or at night, and some areas are a bit difficult to see, it’s a theme that blends perfectly with the game’s story and cosmic humor. I didn’t experience any frame rate issues and the entire experience consisted of solid-smooth animation throughout. In my opinion, no other point-and-click game in recent times closely delivers the art fidelity critically acclaimed games such as Full Throttle and Dragon’s Lair delivered back in the day, and Gibbous – A Cthulhu Adventure, delivers and exceeds that standard.
Like most games played in handheld mode, this game is one I’d recommend you play with your headphones on. The game’s orchestral soundtrack is excellent and the music is exactly what you would expect from a cosmic horror game inspired by Transylvanian developers. The voice acting is solid and listening to detective Ketype speak throughout the game sometimes reminded me of David Hayter, the legendary Metal Gear voice actor. But the truly exceptional voice acting came from the one and only, Kitteh. I am not sure if it was Kitteh’s humor and funny remarks, but her voice acting and delivery were impeccable. Lastly, the developers catered to a wide audience by offering 10 different languages to choose from, a surprising bonus I did not expect from such a small team. While the voice acting remains English, the game’s text and subtitles change depending on the language you select. I spent some time playing the game in Spanish and did not encounter any issues with the Spanish translations, in fact, at times, I found myself enjoying how good translations were.
Stuck in Attic achieved a Transylvanian Mona Lisa masterpiece that belongs in a museum of point-and-click games. While point-and-click adventure games may not appeal to everyone, this is a game that’s so good, you’ll be thinking about it way after the credits roll. It’s not a perfect game by any means, and the few imperfections I mentioned in this review are easily overshadowed by how damn good the overall game is. Unfortunately, you can easily reach the ending in a matter of 10-12 hours– making this game a fairly short experience. If you are a fan of the genre, Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, or LucasArts 90s games, you’ll love everything Gibbous has to offer.