Old school adventure games generally require three things: Pointing, clicking, and occasionally thinking outside of the box. Now, if those three things alone are enough to satisfy you, then look no further because Demetrios: The BIG Cynical Adventure should be right up your alley. However, if you’re someone who yearns for a little more than just the basic necessities of an adventure game, some aspects of Demetrios might feel a tad underwhelming.
Starting with the gameplay, Demetrios takes the very simple approach of having the player point and click their way through every increasing unbelievable obstacle thrown at them. Every area is set in frames with plenty of objects to interact with, clicking on things to hear what the protagonist Bjorn Thonen has to say about them. There’s tools to grab, paintings to gawk at, food to eat off the ground, and so much more. In terms of dialogue related to the observation of items, Demetrios is no slouch in quantity.
In the game there are also some dialogue options during key moments in the story, but nothing that causes branching paths. There is one plot line, and all your screw ups only result in death or jail, leaving you to return to the most recent autosave to try again. There’s usually some sort of unique joke card for each time you meet your untimely demise, so at least you have that to look forward to.
As for minigames, there are quite a few of them in Demetrios. From casual fishing to graveyard pinball, there’s plenty to play, some of it is optional to the main plot and some is required for the main story. Every game is pretty adequately designed, but they’re also pretty barebones, and really only worth a cheeky minute of your time before getting back to the main objective at hand.
Onto the only thing that’s somewhat novel about this game: Demetrios has a very nice hint system. Within each area of the game there are three cookies hidden within the frame. You can eat cookies for hints when you’re stumped and can’t figure out what to do next. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out and stockpile them for later. On the Vita however (I can’t speak for other systems), finding these cookies is especially hard considering the size of the screen and the low resolution of cookies. It basically just comes down to hunting for tiny brown smudges in every room.
The performance of the game was fairly smooth overall, but I did experience a few bugs in my playthrough. There were times where the display locked and I was completely incapable of doing anything other than close the game and reopen. While these moments were infrequent, they happened enough times for me to warrant mentioning it. Unfortunately for me, I also stumbled upon a progression halting glitch where the autosave made it impossible to move forward, causing me to rely on my last manual save from over an hour ago. [Note: The developer delayed the game to address progress bugs, so perhaps this will not be something to worry about in the final release]
Moving on to characters, I must say that I found every person in this story to be quite annoying and unlikeable. Now, it seems like the game purposefully does this for the sake of comedy, but that doesn’t remedy the problem of not being invested enough in Bjorn Thonen and friends to warrant playing through for 7+ hours. The game is about learning to deal with different types of obnoxious jerks. Whether it’s sweaty, insufferable police officers or the worst child imaginable, pleasing these people to get what you want requires a lot of busy work.
Bjorn, the main character, is equally as unadmirable as anyone else. He’s sloppy, stupid, immature, and perhaps a wee bit sexist? Yet his stupidity somehow takes him very far, and while his reasoning is often flawed it gets him to where he needs to go. It’s through his eyes that we get to perceive the world, and his spoken observations indicate that he sees the world to be a very crappy place. Everyone, even the people he likes, are irritating and hard to understand. While it’s sometimes funny to hear his thoughts on other people, as well as anything else that catches his eye, it’s also sometimes just vulgar and uninteresting.
Vulgarity has a big role to play in the writing of this game, but for the sake of the prudes there is a handy vulgarity setting when the game first starts. If you’re the type of person that would appreciate good old-fashioned fart jokes, turn that vulgar meter on high! However, if you’re the kind of person whose monocle falls of their face at the mere mention of a bowel movement, low vulgarity is definitely the way to go. I personally played it on the highest setting, but most of the humor was definitely a miss for me.
As for the story overall, it was a fairly fun, albeit forgettable ride. Clearly Demetrios: The BIG Cynical Adventure wasn’t aiming for something immensely profound, but in respects to what it was aiming for (comedy) I think it still fell pretty short. Of course, comedy is subjective, and so if lowbrow, gross and situational comedy with bits of satire here and there sound appealing to you, then by all means pick up this game. However, if you prefer something written with wit and characters that you can actually get behind, then perhaps it’s best to look elsewhere.
Demetrios is a decent adventure game. It doesn’t stray very far from the established formula, nor does it accomplish anything complex or inventive in its design. Despite lacking a compelling narrative, Demetrios has solid, old-school adventure gameplay, and if that’s all you want out of it then it’s certain to suffice.