Runaway: A Road Adventure

26Runaway was one of those games that was supposed to yank the adventure gaming genre out of its coma. It definitely has its high points and occasional charm. The story is competent enough. The cartoony animations are a bit crude but effective. The dialogue, though long and irrelevant most of the time, is better acted than in most computer games. But while the presentation comes off as a decent effort, the puzzle element – perhaps the most important component after the plot in any adventure – is greatly lacking.

You play as twenty-something year old Brian who accidentally hits a woman with his car in the middle of the night. Apparently the mob is after her, and the rest of the game is spent trying to escape them while figuring out exactly what made them so upset. On your journey, which is divided into six chapters which you can access from the main menu, will have you visit all manner of beautifully drawn up locales that include cities, museums or desert towns.

If only the puzzles were intuitive. They’re not, and you’ll not only be put through constant pixel hunts to find the correct item, but their solution will usually evade you. Runaway is one of those annoying adventure games that forces you to look for, find, combine and use items in double-digit figures. Some of you might enjoy this MacGyver take on adventure gaming, but I don’t. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting stuck for hours trying to solve a puzzle only to realize that you’ve missed a tiny spec of pixles that passed for an inventory items some five screens back.

20Other parts of the game fare somewhat better. The comic book visual style of Runaway is truly beautiful to behold, as each of the locations you’ll visit will have no lack of detail. The character animations, on the other hand, range from excellent to amateurish. When any character is moving or performing an action, as in a cutscene, they move very fluidly, but all of that changes when start talking. The camera freezes on their face and instead of smooth facial movements you get a crude slideshow of stills that is supposed to pass for speech animation.

The puzzles blow, pixel hunting blows, and getting stuck because the solutions are totally counter-intuitive blows. If you have the sort of patience that requires you to meticulously inspect every corner of each screen to find whatever mundane item you need to have in order to solve the next convoluted obstacle, then Runaway most definitely won’t let you down.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 128

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