It’s been ages since I’ve played a point and click adventure and with many fond memories of some classics from days gone by, I was looking forward to something that would get me back into the genre I so loved. Hoodwink starts with plenty of promise – the film noire-style title screen and fonts and ’30s gumshoe soundtrack set a fine mood, though when the game starts up and you find yourself in the dystopian future world of Global-01 it’s not the sort of game you’d be expecting.
You play Michael Bezzle, small-time thief, who we meet in someone else’s office, having broken in, and attempting to steal a ring, with your help of course. Hoodwink looks fantastic, the cell-shaded art style giving it a suitably grimy appearance and the locale of Kong Yan is realised in all its run down glory. In terms of visuals, Hoodwink has definitely got its act together. The voice acting is also excellent and while the character models are limited in terms of just how expressive their faces are, there’s plenty of emotion in the voices to bring them to life, even when you’re conversing with robots.
Sadly, from there on in things go downhill. If I could put my finger on the biggest single problem with Hoodwink it would be that I just didn’t care. A game, any game, needs to grab you from the off, spin you a yarn and get you excited about playing especially when it comes to something as leisurely as a point and click and, slick visuals aside, Hoodwink never does that. It’s pretty slow paced, even by point and click standards, and that’s without even mentioning the loading times, and it never feels like an adventure – you never feel like you’re going anywhere or working towards some great goal. It all just seems a bit trivial.
The puzzles are simple but made difficult by the fact that it can be hard to tell what you’re meant to grab or look at, mini-game type puzzles are a bit irritating and even navigating around is hard as there are times when you can’t tell if you’re looking at a bit of wall, or the entrance to a new area. I also came across a number of glitches in the game and good as the voice acting may be, you can’t skip any of the conversations. None of them. Fine if you’re playing through in one sitting but woe betide anyone who quits the game without making it to a checkpoint. That’s right, you can’t save your game, you have to keep trudging along until you reach a certain point and the game does it for you. And if, like me, you don’t realise this you then find yourself having to play through a whole section once more – theoretically this shouldn’t take long because you’ve already done it once, but not being able to skip the conversations soon has you suitably irritated.
It’s short too – I finished the game in a couple of hours and if you could skip the conversations I reckon you could have Hoodwink wrapped up in under two. It may only cost £10, but that’s pretty poor, especially considering it has no replay value whatsoever. I really wanted to like Hoodwink, and it promised a lot, but in reality it barely feels like a finished game and even if you’re a die-hard point and click fan, there’s little here to recommend. It gets one mark for graphics and one mark for voice acting but even then I feel like I’m being generous and if that sounds harsh you can pick up Monkey Island: Special Edition – Collection for £10, which suddenly makes me feel like I’m being very generous indeed.