The 1960's German countryside can be engaging, but lacking in true moments.
When I played Trüberbrook last year, I was impressed. The handmade point and click game seemed like a perfect fit for Nintendo Switch, and I couldn't wait to see how the story would unfold. Everything in the world is made from real miniature models, with the rest being computer animated. The very inviting look and its abstract mystery-adventure atmosphere made me want to see how Trüberbrook would play out in the end. Initially, I was quite happy with the game, but it fell apart as I inched closer to the end.
Without spoiling too much, I would say that Trüberbrook consists of two different story arcs. The initial mystery of the game is tremendously exciting. Trüberbrook situates you in late 1960s West Germany where you play as a young American physicist, Hans Tannhauser. He happens to win a vacation to the aging resort of Trüberbrook and 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 a thief steals a piece the physicist is working on. Together with Gretchen, another scientist on the lookout for the truth, they try to uncover secrets that plague the town.
The opening hours of Trüberbrook feel like something not unlike a Twin Peaks episode. There are crazy labs, conspiracy theories, and a host of enjoyable characters. Every character that appears on screen is absolutely delightful, each with their own quirks that will make you smile. Hans is fantastic, too. He's trying to make sense of everything, while dictating it back to a voice recorder. Hans isn't one for sitting down and letting his curiosity fester. However, a robot in a laboratory named Barbarossa 2000 is my absolute highlight. The machine just wants a companion and befriends Hans at the end of a lengthy dialogue tree.
Sadly, the latter half of the adventure is somewhat of a letdown. While enjoyable, some answers ended up falling extremely flat. There are moments where the game builds up a moment, just before turning around and saying ''Nope!'' Additionally, it feels as if Trüberbrook rushes towards the game's conclusion. Segments end long before they should in an effort to keep moving the action along. The initial set-up is incredibly strong, which makes those final hours so gut wrenching.
Across the eight hours of gameplay, the experience itself is quite fun. Point and click is a hard genre to get right on a console, but the developers tailor-made this one with that in mind. The various dialogue options are accessible and moving your cursor across the screen works surprisingly well. Next to the cursor, pressing a button will allow you to see everything that can be interacted with. This is particularly nice for players unfamiliar with the genre as they can think everything over at a glance. There isn't anything out of the ordinary really, but the puzzles do require some serious consideration. Some force you to keep special symbols in mind, while others rely on using specific items.
The only thing that I couldn't stand was the way the inventory was put together. Once you pick up something, you can't look it over again to know what you're carrying. In other games in the genre, it would be as simple as opening up a menu and dragging the cursor over the item. Trüberbrook, however, quickly flashes the item on screen and that is that. Hans also doesn't describe the items in question, which makes the situation all the more irritating. You can see little pictures when you're selecting the items, but that really isn't a solution to the overall problem.
The presentation of Trüberbrook is absolutely stunning. Like I mentioned in the opener, the game seamlessly combines miniature objects with computer-animated environments. The developers managed to bring classic western Germany alive with beautiful sights, sharp lighting effects, and tightly-knit segments. Trüberbrook runs surprisingly well on Nintendo Switch, and brings the entire PC experience over quite well. On top of that, the jazzy saxophone beats add much to the sense of mystery. The music compliments everything very nicely.
Trüberbrook is a good but not excellent point and click experience. The eight-hour journey has a fantastic start but is dragged down by some flat reveals and conclusions. The story feels really forced towards its conclusion, which is honestly quite undeserved. Trüberbrook's cast of colorful characters and its presentation are truly a delight, which help to elevate the proceedings. The only problem I had on the gameplay side was, quite frankly, a rather big one. The title's inventory system could use a bit of a tune-up to make it fully come into its own. If you can overlook these problems, Trüberbrook offers up fun moments all the way through.