Moebius: Empire Rising Reviewed
By David Lins
Point-and-click adventure games have become a rarity, and actually good ones are even less common. Many seem to miss the point, so to speak, but some manage to hold true to the original feel of the genre.
Jane Jensen’s metaphysical thriller Moebius: Empire Rising seems to fit somewhere in the middle. It takes the mechanics of old school adventure games and updates them so that players of this generation won’t pull their hair out just trying to navigate the UI. It’s well-designed and holds your interest, but rarely challenges you like those old games did.
You are Malachi Rector, an antiques dealer who has a keen eye for detail and genius-level knowledge of history. He can tell if an antique is genuine just by glancing at it—a skill that has gotten him into trouble more times than he can count. He can also use these skills to determine someone’s personality and intent at a glance.
The plot unfolds when billionaire Amble Dexter hires Malachi to go on a series of strange missions that involve finding a woman who matches the dossier of a historical figure, a job that gets fishy when an unknown organization starts hunting him down. He’s not alone, though—eventually he forms an alliance with David Walker, an ex-Army Captain that serves as Malachi’s bodyguard. Despite the danger, Malachi will always comment on the antiquities around him throughout the game, which is a nice touch.
The character development between Malachi and Walker is a bit of a slow burn, but it’s there, and you’ll find yourself rooting for them in the end. Dialogue with characters tends to fall flat, though perhaps this is intentional—Malachi doesn’t take these jobs to make friends, after all. Apart from that, this is your cookie-cutter thriller involving secret government agencies and a pseudo-scientific theory someone either made up or pulled out of a hat.
Malachi’s skills are in your hands, allowing you to piece together relevant data points and determine how trustworthy a person is just by examining their posture, clothing, or other details. When examining artifacts, Malachi will point out fakes in a nonchalant, matter-of-fact fashion, which creates some humorous scenes. Malachi is cold as ice when it comes to these jobs, and it makes him somehow endearing.
Otherwise, this is a standard adventure game. You collect items, examine them, and use them to make progress. Malachi will only pick up items when he actually needs them, causing an annoying amount of backtracking. The puzzles are fairly simple—you won’t find “adventure game logic” here—but aren’t particularly challenging. The Kickstarter promised Casual and “True Adventure” modes to determine difficulty, but such options are absent from the final release, which is sure to disappoint any hardcore players.
Other minor issues bog the game down a bit. For example, the 3D character models are pretty ugly, especially in motion. There were times when I found myself making Malachi walk back and forth just to marvel at his goofy leg physics. The game looks great otherwise; the backgrounds are beautifully rendered, as are the 3D objects in the world.
Overall, I’d be hard-pressed to recommend Moebius: Empire Rising to anyone who isn’t already a fan of adventure games. The story is intriguing, but not amazing enough to draw in anyone who doesn’t have that itch for pointing-and-clicking. If you’ve got a passing interest in the genre, then this game wouldn’t be a bad place to start—it’s at that sweet spot where players of any skill-level can get through the game with ease.
If you’re looking for a difficult adventure game akin to old school epics like Jensen’s own King’s QuestVI, or even Gabriel Knight, you might want to steer clear. But if you dig the genre and can appreciate a bizarre story, then give it a shot—perhaps your analysis will differ from mine.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/david.jpg”]David Lins is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania that has loved video games since he was old enough to hold a controller. He enjoys all sorts of games, but prefers difficult or terrifying ones. Currently, he plays too many roguelikes. When not writing about his favorite hobby, he loves to drink beer, write fiction, play tabletop RPGs or board games, and hang out with his friends and family. He also has a passion for technology and loves tinkering with his phone, computer, and other devices. Follow David on Twitter for “hilarious” or “insightful” tweets about nothing in particular. [/author]