Short version: 71%
The Next Big Thing is a solid adventure game with incredible visuals, a well-crafted world, and an interesting, yet very short story. The puzzles are easy and fun to do, yet there is one that will cause rage-quits in large numbers. Though its shortness hardly justifies the price, it’s a real deal even on a 50% sale: you get a fun and entertaining adventure for your money that won’t disappoint you later.Long version:
The Next Big Thing is one of Pendulo’s many point-and-click adventure titles with the studio’s trademark cell-shaded 3D characters and carefully constructed, astonishing hand-drawn backgrounds.
The game is set in another world, where the classic Hollywood movie monsters from the 1940s and 50s are real people who live among the humans. The story follows the adventure of two journalists– a cynical sports-maniac and an enthusiastic and downright loony investigative reporter– fresh on the trail of a new scoop that will eventually leave to kidnapping, brainwashing and of course lots of puzzle solving.
The style and the story is more cartoonish than horror-like, and this shown in the characters and the puzzles themselves. The latter ones aren’t especially devilish, but there is one that gave many people nightmares and caused many rage-quits and unfinished games. It’s a purely time- and rhythm-based puzzle which is hard to figure out, even harder to properly execute.
Apart from that the difficulty level may only come from pixel-hunting if you chose not to use the item highlight feature, as some of the objects you need to interact with can easily be missed.
Although the story is quite good and well-paced, and even the dialogues are well-crafted, the fact that the game is actually a sequel to Pendulo’s 1997 title Hollywood Monsters, and sadly for some reason the developers thought that anyone who plays this game will know the prequel: we learn next to nothing about the world and how it works in the first half of the game, and only small bits are revealed later in optional side-conversations and item descriptions.
Also, the game is short, even for an indie adventure game: shorter than their previous three title on Steam (the Runaway trilogy), clocking in about 4-6 hours depending on how much you may get stuck (especially on the aforementioned tango puzzle). The story itself compensates for it, but still, for costing as much as other Pendulo games, the play time feels awfully short in this one.