Developed By: 2054
Published By: 2054
Category: Adventure, Puzzle
Release Date: 10.24.21
Composers: Lucca Torres, Florian Grivot, Kevin MacLeod, Mister Electric Demon
The Sundew is the initial release from one-person game studio 2054. On the surface, I’m definitely the target audience for this game. It’s a cyberpunk-noir throwback point-and-click adventure with impressively moody pixel art. I don’t know if I’d say that makes it my ideal game description, but it certainly checks off more boxes than most. While I did find plenty to enjoy during my playthrough, I also found a few warts that hold the game back from being truly special.
Cyborg Detective Isobe Would Be An Awesome Title For An Anime
The Sundew is the story of Anna Isobe, a cyborg police officer relegated to the bottom rung of the justice system after the introduction of robot cops. Her orders are mysteriously changed partway through what should have been a routine operation. Her actions entangle her in a massive conspiracy involving the government and the megacorporation Sagi Electric. It’s a pretty standard cyber-noir setup, but it plays out in a mostly engaging manner. However, the story, especially the world-building, is sometimes disjointed, and there are a few plot points that seem extremely important early on that just sort of disappear over the course of the game or turn out to be incidental to the main story.
Furthermore, most of the game’s world-building is done on the game’s store page. A large amount of background information on The Sundew’s world is presented in the game’s description, but almost no references to the game world’s past are made in-game. If you didn’t read the store page, for instance, you’d never really know that cyborgs had been replaced by robots and it created a taboo about cyborgs. The store page mentions it, but it never comes up in the game! So, while I did enjoy the story, it had a few odd holes that marred the experience.
Point. Click. Repeat.
If you’ve ever played a point-and-click adventure, then you know what you’re getting in terms of gameplay. You use your cursor to select different items to collect or interact with in order to solve puzzles which move the game forward either narratively or by physically opening new areas to explore. The puzzles provide a decent but not frustrating challenge for the most part. Early on there is one objective where you have to give items to a guy at a counter and getting him to actually appear is pretty obtuse. Otherwise, though, it’s pretty rock-solid.
Man oh man do I love how The Sundew looks. Modern pixel art games are frequently more visually detailed than their retro counterparts, but that doesn’t hurt their ability to pay tribute to the games that inspired them. The Sundew brings to mind the classic era of Lucasarts point-and-click adventures, like Monkey Island or The Dig, but it creates its own moody, atmospheric identity as well. It just looks great. The soundtrack is mostly electronic fare that isn’t bad, really, but doesn’t leave much of an impression. I had to open the game while writing this review to remind myself what it sounded like. That’s never a good sign.
Is The Sundew Fun To Do?
Ultimately, The Sundew is a good game marred by inconsistencies. The graphics, story, and gameplay are all rock-solid. But sometimes the story skimps on a few details or requires outside sources to fill in some background. That’s a problem in a genre so heavily focused on narrative. The gameplay doesn’t introduce anything new, which isn’t a problem, but many of the side activities, like finding Space Invaders in the background or cleaning up graffiti, offer no reward beyond unlocking achievements, which the Switch doesn’t have. The game does feature three different endings, so there is some replayability; the problem is that only the endings are different. The story doesn’t really branch before that. But I sincerely hope the issues I have raised don’t discourage anyone from trying The Sundew. If you’re into point-and-clicks, this is a fine addition to your library.
Buy The Sundew
Digital/Physical – $14.99
The Switch Effect was graciously supplied a code for review purposes.