In this modern age, there are only three types of games: the ostensibly rare original which only seems to show its face once in a blue moon, the ugly knock-off that shows its face more than we in the gaming community would like, and the port: a timid beast who has been transformed from something else, usually bigger or smaller, that can only hope it hasn’t been disfigured in the process. Gemini Rue is a graphic adventure PC game that has come through its port to iOS luckily with all its limbs intact.
Joshua Nuernberger’s first commercially released game when it debuted on the PC in 2011, Gemini Rue is a critically acclaimed game gone mobile as Wadjet Eye Games’ first iOS title. Started during Nuernberger’s senior year in high school and completed his third year of college, it’s apparent the countless hours that have been put into this amazing work.
In Gemini Rue, players take on the role of two criminals, one reformed of his own free will, the other in the process of being “rehabilitated.” In a war torn world, a drug thumping gang called the Boryokudan has taken control in the absence of any formal government. The Boryokudan are merciless in their methods, using a drug referred to as “juice” to maintain their hold on the population.
Players follow Azriel, a man with a past as a Boryokudan assassin, who is now forced to deal with the very same people he tried to get away from to find his brother who it is revealed has been taken to a place called Center 7. Azriel travels to locations across the Gemini system, the star system for which the game is named, recruiting help and even encountering a girl whose memories were taken during “rehabilitation.”
The game alternates between this reformed criminal and another character, Delta-Six, who later takes the name Charlie. It is immediately apparent that Charlie has made multiple attempts at escape and is on his last chance, at least according to “The Director.” The game seems to initially insinuate that Charlie and Azriel are brothers. While this is not true, the truth is far more entertaining.
When it comes to porting games from PC to iOS, titles have a tendency to be “wonky” and feel ill fitted, so naturally a few glitches can be forgiven. Having the advantage of not playing Gemini Rue on the PC allows one to easily avoid making unfair comparisons between the two. That said, veterans of the previous manifestations will notice some issues, but may be pacified by some of the improvements. While point-and-click is a mainstay on the PC, moving that same interface to the iPhone and a smaller screen is naturally less accurate with the use of fingertips. That said, the new feature of being able to hold a finger on the screen to see all the interactive objects in a room was added to counteract this issue should it arise.
Even as a non-PC gamer, Gemini Rue is a great toe in the pool of adventure games on the market. Players must use observational skills and a bit of common sense to navigate their way through the puzzles reminiscent of the original Blade Runner crime investigation plot lines. That said, dialogue tends to drag what is beyond necessary at times and players will find themselves impatiently tapping the screen to get through it… Only to accidentally kill themselves by walking into a gunfight… Then do it all over again.
This review is split when it comes to rating the graphic quality. On the one hand, the pixelated backgrounds and NPCs are endearing, reminding players of a time when seeing characters moving on screen held all the wonder of unknown technology. Lately quite a few games have been trying nostalgically to get back to these roots. On the other hand, cynics will immediately think that this route might have been taken with ease in mind rather than artistic leanings. On a small screen like an iPhone’s and with the knowledge that most of this game was created by a one-man development team, the graphic style is forgivable. However, that doesn’t make it any prettier on the iPad. That aside, anime fans will immediately see where some of the scenes’ inspiration comes from: Cowboy Bebop. There’s even a few references tucked cleanly into the game for those “in the know.”
The soundtrack for this game is all its own and seems to blend seamlessly with the atmosphere. While the rain beating down in the rooftops of Barracus may get on your nerves, players are rewarded well enough with decent voice acting paired with the text onscreen. This is a title worth picking up your headphones for and that’s not something I as a reviewer say often of mobile games.
This title has a few quirks that actually give it more character than being true “beefs.” With an engaging, interesting and shocking storyline, players will feel the need to fight past any small preferences they have for their ideal game and see it to the end.
Gemini Rue hits the App Store on April 11 with a launch sale knocking a dollar off its $4.99 price, but this is a game that could sell for a lot more.