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Secret Files: Tunguska PC DVD-ROM

Published by Deep Silver
Developed by Animation Arts & Fusionsphere Systems
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Secret Files: Tunguska, an introduction.

Despite being classed as a dying genre quite a few years ago the point ‘n’ click adventure game refuses to go away. We’ve no complaints with that of course because it’s always been one of our favourite genres. Indeed in recent years we’ve seen quite a few enjoyable point ‘n’ click adventure games such as Siberia and its sequel; Return to Mysterious Island; The Black Mirror and of course the recent Broken Sword: The Angel of Death. The problem nowadays for point ‘n’ click adventure games is that they tend to receive little publicity when compared to sports titles, RPG titles and FPS titles and it’s easy for a good game to come and go unnoticed. In fact here’s one that almost slipped under our radar, Secret Files: Tunguska.

What’s the story about?

In Secret Files: Tunguska you’ll play as Nina Kalenkov (and Max Gruber for a little while), the daughter of a scientist at the local museum. At the beginning of the game Nina goes to visit her father at the museum only to find that he’s not there and his office has been ransacked. Naturally Nina is deeply concerned and begins to search for her father. On visiting his home she finds that too has been ransacked. Before long everything seems to point to her father being abducted. Nina does some checking and it appears that her father is being sought after because of his research on the Tunguska event that occurred on the 30th June 1908 where 6,000 square km of trees were suddenly felled. In real life the Tunguska event remains a mystery but in the game it appears that Vladimir Kalenkov (Nina’s father) has specialist knowledge. Those seeking to share that knowledge are certainly in no mood for a quiet chat though.  

What’s good about the game?

Adventure games are only as good as their story, characters and puzzles. We’ve already discussed the story but it’s worth pointing out that it is both interesting and enjoyable. The quality of the characters however, is a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. Nina, for the most part seems fine but other characters such as Max and Oleg could have done with more personality. It’s rather strange that Max goes from hardly knowing Nina to suddenly having a lot of affection for her and it makes you think that you’ve missed something important. As you’ll spend most of your time controlling Nina it’s not much of an issue. Nina doesn’t have the personal complications that Kate Walker had in the game Siberia. She’s more of a lively personality that just wants to find out what’s happened to her ‘Daddy’ as she often refers to him. Nina’s prepared to do anything and go anywhere to find out what’s happened and it’s her personality that drives the game forward.

If you’ve played at least a handful of adventure games you’ll know that the quality of the puzzles you’ll have to solve can vary a great deal. Puzzles can range from being logic based to being downright nonsensical. I have absolutely no problem at all with the puzzles in Tunguska. Most of them can be solved by simply using common sense. Some solutions may seem a little out of the ordinary (such as the one that requires you to tape a mobile phone to a …) but there are no puzzles that ever feel disappointing or too bizarre. Very few puzzles actually require you to do a lot of back and forth journeys in order to solve them. This may not seem like a big thing but it can become very tedious when you’re constantly going back and forth in an attempt to solve a single puzzle and it’s great that Tunguska keeps this to a bare minimum.

How about the control scheme? Well as we’ve mentioned numerous times it’s a point ‘n’ click adventure. The right mouse button is used to quit cutscenes (although this is not something you want to do if you’re following the story). It can also be used to look at objects. The left mouse button is used to interact with objects performing actions such as use, pick up and combining. On the subject of combining you’ll be doing quite a lot of it. Thankfully it’s a straightforward process. Tunguska does away with the pixel hunting practices required in other point ‘n’ click adventures. Simply pressing the space bar or clicking the magnifying glass icon will shown you every item onscreen that can be interacted with. This does away with a lot of the tedium that is associated with these games and is a very nice addition.

What’s bad about the game?

As good as Tunguska is, it does have a few rough edges. There are some translation errors that really should have been avoided. This means that at times certain sentences seem a little strange. Spelling mistakes are also present too. It’s strange that Nina’s surname is sometimes Kalenkov and sometimes Kalenkow (her father is referred to as Kalenkow). When Nina stands in front of an object, thus obscuring it from vision, it sometimes prevents you from clicking on that object meaning you’ll have to reposition her to make the object visible again. None of these rough edges are real problems but they do take the shine off what is an impressive adventure game. Hearing gamers should be aware that the voice acting is pretty poor although that’s of no concern to us. At certain points in the game there is some profanity which just doesn't seem to fit in with the context of the dialogue being spoken.

How does it look?

Tunguska is a mix of 2D and 3D graphics and it’s a mix that looks quite good. The game runs at a resolution of 1024x768 only. The game can be played in windowed mode as well as in full screen mode. The backgrounds are mainly very good looking pre-rendered 2D graphics, the kind you would expect to find in a point ‘n’ click adventure. The character models and various animated objects are in 3D. This mix not only gets away from the completely static nature of most point ‘n’ click games but also means you don’t have camera angle issues that so often cause irritation. The character models are not as detailed as they could have been. You won’t see any impressive lip-synching from the character models. In fact for a lot of dialogue you won’t see their lips move at all. Still the game is not that demanding and most gamers shouldn’t experience any performance issues (the recommended specification is for a 1GHz CPU and a 64MB graphics card with the minimum specification being around half of that).  

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Deaf gamers won’t have any problem with Secret Files: Tunguska. Subtitles are offered and by default they are enabled. Both the dialogue for the cutscenes and the main game is subtitled. The subtitles don’t have any character portraits or names placed alongside the text. The text is colour-coded though and it’s placed on the lower portion of the screen against a dark background so the text is always clear and easy to read. Notes are recorded in text and can be accessed at any time by clicking on the diary icon.

Final thoughts.

If you’re a fan of point ‘n’ click adventures then Secret Files: Tunguska is definitely a game you’re going to enjoy. It doesn’t do anything different but it’s an enjoyable adventure that’s easily on a par with many recent games in the genre. A lot more care should have been taken with the translation into English though as some sentences just seem plain odd (as you can see in the top screenshot). Even with these rough edges it’s still well worth a purchase for fans of the genre.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

Secret Files: Tunguska is an enjoyable point 'n' click adventure game that should please most fans of the genre. Both the puzzles and the story are good but the translation to English (from German) could have been handled with more care.