This is the first in three games that form the Runaway series to date. As such it is bound to be potentially less refined than the latter two so there are some issues with it and things that detract from my enjoyment of the game. I hope as the series progresses they get better and better but for now here is my review of the first title in the series...
The first aspect is the art style, it appears cell shaded in format or what I would associate as such and it is an aquired taste as far as artistic styles go...unfortuantly in this specific case it is not a taste that fits well with me. Normally I do not mind cell shaded looking games but this is on the poor quality side where quite often I found myself looking at the shading on the characters and thinking what the hell is wrong with their face or body which maybe okay for a while for the amusment of looking at weird shaded and shaped characters as some times it was just plain freaky looking but kind of wears thin on me after a while.
It comes across as like a premature/immature use of the art style inline with the time period where the game came out which I think was early 90's and it may well be the case that the following games in series matured and refined this art style but that's more related to future reviews of those not this one. However I am sure there are enough screenshots and such online and in the community section for this game here to give you an idea of whether it is an art style you can grin and bare or might enjoy. For me it was the former and for others it may be the latter. The environments on the other hand are not too bad, some are even quite good I feel for the most part but the characters on the other hand are ugh...not to my liking and quite often look very odd or creepy.
The VO work is okay, not amazing but not too bad either. Nothing to write home about though. There were some glitches and bugs I came across when playing, screen freeze couple times and on some occasions glitches relating to the the VO/animations. I thought it is worth mentioning just incase happens to others too. It was not game breaking in the sense I was able to reload from last save and continue but it might be worthwhile if pick up this game to keep saving manually often just in case.
The introduction music track and general theme song Runaway one is catchy and a nice tune. It was a nice enjoyable peice of music but for the rest of the game there is pretty much a lack of music to add to this nice audio start to the game. The puzzles in this adventure game are also not so great in the sense for the most part yes you will be able to proceed without hinderence for a fair amount of the game just by using simple logic...but there are some that defy belief and boggle the mind in a not so good way. You will most likely need to use a guide or walkthrough to solve some just because some defy logic.
I will give just one example so not to spoil things where the game fails in this regard. There is a train and you can add water to the engine boiler by going to and from town, filling up a handheld item with water then back to the train to put it in the boiler. When you add water and check the water level it tells you the same thing each time that the water level is still very low. You can repeat this process over and over and will tell you the same thing and on the fifth or sixth try something will pop out of the chimney that you will need to progress in the game. Now here is the problem. Firstly there is no hint or anything like that letting the player know that he should keep going to and from the town and train adding the water over and over or that anything will happen or that anything should happen. The repeated phrase of still low on water after th first few times most people would stop doing it thinking it serves no purpose since game does not tell you has any purpose at this point. You will reach a point where cannot continue the game until decide to go back to putting water in for no apparent reason.
There are also ones which annoyed me in the sense I had collected items that could solve situations had the game let me combine or use them logically but the player is forced to find a different way not because your way would not work if was allowed but because the game expects you not just to solve the puzzles but to solve them the exact way the developer would solve them and this is very annoying. While there is an element of this in most adventure games, in this one it feels blatent and annoying. When you solve some of these puzzles you may feel like shouting eureka but not because you want to pat yourself on the back for being smart but because you managed to figure out what the hell the developers were thinking when they made that puzzle. I might be sounding harsh but some of these puzzles are simply bad. Not all however are so bad, some are generally okay and while you will come across bad ones there are quite a few logical and non brain exploding puzzles in there too that most people should have no problem with.
The story itself is okay, interesting in parts but average in others. The romance aspect feels very forced and this reflected badly on the characters to me. This game was made in the early 90's though so I never expected it to be up to todays standards in many areas but overall as an adventure game it felt like an average game, with a few very annoying puzzles but with good introduction song and an interesting art style provided the art style does not rub you the wrong way. I can only hope the rest of the series gets better and will be trying those in order as I go along at a later date. I have higher hopes for the rest of the series which were developed about two years apart if I recall, expecting and hoping that they improve with each new one in the series as they learned from their mistakes.
The ending was very predictable, but that is to be sort of expected given it's the first in three games that carry a narrative follow through between them from a timelime and characters perspective. I won't spoil it but it is worth noting that the series is linked in such a way so that while you could start with the second or third game and skip this one, you will not get the full story relating to the characters and and may not understand everything that's going on or why things are the way they are unless play them all in order. It's not as bad as say starting watching the LoTR skipping the first and starting on second film in series instead and wondering what's going on but there is a link between the games in this series so worth keeping that in mind.
Should you buy this? Well depends on what floats you boat but for me this was an average game, nothing making it stand out far enough to scream buy or don't buy... more of a if you are bored, like adventure games but played all the best ones already and need to start playing the average ones before making a start on the worst then this fits in that average catagory. My advice is maybe pick it up during a sale. It's not bad enough that I will say do not buy it, so I will say recommended but only for those who fall into the above catagory I just listed if your anything like me.
If determined to buy an adventure game made by Pendulos Studios I would much rather recommend (The Next Big Thing) game from them which actually is a very good adventure game compared to this one which I consider to be average.