Enter a weird sci-fi adventure in the lush world of 1960s West Germany.
Handmade adventure seems all the rage. While Slow Bros.'s Harold Halibut was impressive, it wasn't the only game of that type that I liked at Gamescom 2018. Trüberbrook takes a slightly different approach to building its the world. The sets are made from real miniature scale models, but everything else is computer animated. The result is a game that looks crisp from the outset, but somewhat less made from real materials. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, I find the art style inviting. These are two similar yet different games that take a different approach to their craft.
That approach also translates to the story. Trüberbrook goes more for the mystery side, with a larger focus on puzzles. The result is a game that raises your eyebrows the moment you press start. The game situates you in late 1960s West Germany where you play as a young American physicist. Tannhauser, as the man is called, happens to win a vacation to the aging resort of Trüberbrook. He hopes to find some peace and quiet in these lush surroundings, but that plan soon goes awry. Strange things seem afoot in the town as you find secret labs and weird clues. It is up to Tannhauser to save the world and find out the truth in this weird sci-fi mishmash.
The interface is honestly what impressed me the most. In most cases, I prefer playing adventure games with a mouse. Trüberbrook is smartly designed around the buttons of the controller. You can choose dialogue options by rotating the joystick, interact with people or objects with the face buttons and move around the layered environment with ease. This isn't an adventure game translated to different controls; rather, it is made with them in mind. In the demo levels I got to play, the cursor could be used to select and make statements from afar, while coming closer started the interactions needed to progress.
Another thing I really liked was the utterly seamless transition between puzzles and narrative. They are woven into and complement each other. The result is that you learn a lot about the characters quickly. One such interaction is how Tannhauser had to comfort a lonely computer AI, simply by doing the right things like giving positive encouragement. This will earn you the AI’s trust, allowing you to continue with your exploration through the lab. The flow from walking to interaction is extremely tight, and it caused the demo never to have a dull moment.
All in all, Trüberbrook left me curious and full of questions. Mostly, I wanted to know where this adventure is going, a topic seemingly left open to interpretation. Tannhauser's role in the mystery seems to be bigger than the game tells at the outset. In addition, the title just looks really sharp all around. It contains the right chemistry of handmade model set pieces and animation in one fell swoop. Trüberbrook is launching by the end of 2018, and honestly, I can't wait to see more.