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Ceville is a new point and click adventure for the PC. Set in the world of Faeryanis the tyrant king, Ceville, has been toppled from the throne and the even more evil Basilius has taken over. As Ceville, and various other characters that help out along the way, you must save the kingdom and take your revenge. This is gently comedic fun with some basic puzzle solving and a rich, warm art style.
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You’d be forgiven for thinking that point and click adventures went the way of the dodo but apparently no one has told German developer Realmforge Studios. They were formerly Boxed Dreams and have now been acquired by publisher Kalypso Media. While the genre may be hopelessly dated this is a well made title with a decent level of polish and it conjures memories of the Monkey Island adventures and Grim Fandango. The problem is these games were popular a long time ago now and while this title is well made it doesn’t offer anything new.
You play on a series of backdrops which are actually rendered in 3D although it makes no difference to the actual game-play. You click on items to investigate them or use them and the plot is advanced via lots of voice acting. The HUD is very simple and easy to use. If you want to try out an item in your inventory you just click on it to select and can then click on options in the environment to see if an interaction can be found. You can also combine items in the same way. Your entire inventory is a series of boxes along the bottom of the HUD.
Each environment has a puzzle or a series of puzzles to solve before you can advance. Generally this means putting together the right combination of items and using them in the right way or manipulating the characters you meet by giving them the right items. You can also have conversations with other characters in which you get to choose from a range of responses and you can influence them to do what you want by selecting the right combination.
Most of the puzzles are logical enough and you can generally advance without too much retracing of your steps. The fact you are able to switch between characters to solve some situations, such as Ceville’s escape from his jail cell, is a nice touch. Some of the puzzles are not so logical, for example who knew that parsley would put a fairy to sleep? However with adventure games you know that randomly trying every combination will work eventually, to be honest this is one of the reasons I’m not really a fan of the genre. The other is the fact you tend to wander back and forth looking for objects you have missed and happily Ceville has a system whereby you can press the space bar in each environment to highlight everything that can be interacted with.
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Visually speaking this point and click adventure marks real progress. The entire world and the characters within it are rendered in full 3D and the developers have done a great job. The environments are interesting and they invite exploration. There are also some nice lighting effects, great texture work and the characters and objects cast shadows as you move them around.
The characters themselves are very nicely modelled and they have a lot of personality which is accentuated by the animation work. Ceville is a terrific character, a diminutive demagogue with a sharp wit. I also really liked the zombie pirate and the cast is nothing if not colourful. There is no doubt Ceville is an attractive cartoon world and the character design and environment modelling is accomplished. The camera position can be slightly irritating at times and it is not always easy to get the view you want however there are some nice cinematic sequences which introduce some of the scenes.
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For every adventure game the voiceover work is a vital factor in bringing some personality to the cast. Ceville features some great voiceover work and the majority of the acting is very good. The title character is deliciously malignant and the voice fits perfectly, the supporting cast are a mixed bag but for the most part the standard is high and the script provides a few smiles if not outright laughs. The musical score is instrumental and very fitting for the action. The environmental sound is lacking in places and there are times when a background character speaks over the main character obscuring dialogue which can be a bit annoying. However on the whole the game features top quality audio.
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The requirements are not too taxing as you might expect and you’ll be able to run this without problems on a machine with Windows XP or Vista and a 1.7GHz processor, 512MB memory, 2GB of hard drive space and 3D graphics card with 256MB of RAM able to support DirectX 9c. I found the game ran very smoothly and loading times were fast.
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Ceville is an enjoyable point and click adventure set in a beautifully realised world but it is also familiar and derivative. The mythical cartoon styling works well and the game-play is simple and easy to grasp however the only thing that really highlights that this game came out in 2009 and not 1989 is the art. If you really like point and click adventures and you have played Monkey Island, Grim Fandango and Broken Sword then give this a try. If you are not a fan of the genre then stay away. It is gently amusing and it is also suitable for the whole family so you might enjoy playing through it with your kids.