More fun to look at than it is to play
Trüberbrook, a Kickstarter-funded adventure game, is a gorgeous art project housing a disappointing gameplay experience.
Individual components of this game are incredible. Each scene is constructed of beautifully handcrafted models that give every environment a compelling aesthetic. The low-stakes pace of play allowed me to leave the characters standing by while I admired the craftsmanship of the various objects in each panel.
Along with the visuals, Trüberbrook also delivers a strong soundtrack. Described by the developers as "doom jazz", the music beds create an eerie yet soothing sound throughout the adventure.
However, very early on in the game, the eye-pleasing visuals and enchanting music are betrayed by the repetitious game play and uninspired puzzle solving. The game's features are said to include "SUSPENSE! MYSTERY! THRILLS!" and "super exciting gameplay." Trüberbrook misses the mark on all of these goals other than the fact that it is indeed a mystery. The gameplay loop creates a situation inherently void of suspense or thrills. The player enters a scene and must solve a puzzle to advance to the next scene. What this looks like in reality is the player walking though the available panels clicking on objects or entering conversations and choosing the correct dialogue options to move on. Without entering spoiler territory, there are very few actual puzzles in this world, instead many repeating instances of item collection book-ended with long exposition dumps.
Near the end the game becomes a back-and-forth trek through loading screens while schlepping items around the world. We are granted fast travel at this point which is only semi-useful. In order to fast travel the player is given a postcard of Trüberbrook on which they click their desired destination. There are two problems with this. First, the areas are not labeled and you must learn what each area is through intuition and trial and error. It is annoying to travel to an area only to discover you selected the opposite side of the lake. Secondly, the fast travel is not optional in some instances despite actually taking longer than simply walking between two areas.
Trüberbrook is also hindered by it's English voice acting. As a German game, it seems likely that the poor vocal performances are due to translation issues but I don't know for sure. Lines are spoken with an emotionally flat delivery while routinely mistiming jokes, mispronouncing words and creating a jarring tone that took me out of the experience repeatedly.
As a consumer I love supporting cool projects like Trüberbrook but I have a hard time recommending this game. Despite taking place in such a uniquely created world, the gameplay is simply not very fun.
*This review is of the Nintendo Switch version of Trüberbrook.