The Act in Review – This is awesome… it’s over?

Many gamers, myself included, might liken The Act to a modern day Laser Disc epic, and at first glance that seems to be a fair assessment.  For better and for worse that is not really the case, however.  Aside from the visual aspect it doesn’t play like any laser disc game I’ve ever tried, and it is far from epic.  The kicker is that it was actually a great experience.  Unfortunately, I was a bit more than surprised when it was suddenly over.  Not that I didn’t see it coming, but I just couldn’t believe how soon it came.

The Act is an animated cliché.  Boy nearly loses job trying to keep brother out of trouble, boy sees girl and falls in “luv”, boy pretends to be something he’s not to impress girl, boy gets caught, boy “makes it right” in end and all trail of into the sunset… Okay, that’s not quite how it goes, but it’s the basic gist.  And if you think I’ve spoiled anything, it just means you haven’t watched enough sit-coms on TV or seen enough “rom-coms” on the silver screen.  There’s nothing you haven’t seen here before, but you’ll still laugh in all the right places, and if you’re sentimental enough you might even get the urge to tear up a time or two, though no event will tug on your heartstring too much.

What makes this game so appealing is the presentation.  The entire game is like a long cartoon, which is where the correlation to games like Dragon’s Lair (TMA Review) comes in.  Unlike those classics, however, you control this game via a “slide rule” of sorts.  And, instead of initiating a single action like in Dragon’s Lair, you are attempting to make your character act or react to an often emotional as well as physical situation.  In other words, you’re controlling your character’s personality, not just his individual choices.

When it’s time for you to take control, a clacker will appear on screen with the word Play, and then you drag your finger left or right depending on how you want Edgar to act.  Sometimes it simply affects how he is doing something, while in other occasions it completely changes what he is attempting to do.  There is even one sequence where it becomes a mini-game of dodging things.  In the end the correlation between your action and what Edgar is doing is much more seamless than the old games like Dragon’s Lair.

On the flip side, it isn’t nearly so obvious in a couple of the sequences what you are supposed to do.  For the first couple of playable opportunities you get a hint after you fail, but then you’re on your own for the tough ones.  Still, even if you have to experiment a few times with some of the interactions, the whole game won’t take you more than half an hour.  That was my main disappointment with The Act.  It was definitely an act, and I was waiting for a couple more to finish out the play.  Sadly they didn’t come.

The visuals are incredible, but that’s not surprising when you’re literally controlling a cartoon.  The character designs are excellent, the backgrounds are wonderful, and some of the expressions in certain situations are priceless.  There are no voices in this game, and even the sound effects are minimized, but if you’ve seen the movie The Artist you’ll know how powerful the combination of music and character expression can be, and that’s all that’s needed here to tell a story that you’ll instantly love.

This game is as beautiful as it is frustrating.  It looks amazing, the music is perfect, and I don’t think I’ve laughed this much playing an iOS game in a long time (if possibly ever).  The interaction is unlike anything I’ve played before, though a couple of sequences were frustrating because it was very hard to determine what to do.  In the end, though, the main issue with The Act is the game’s length, or extreme lack thereof.  If substance over quantity is important to you, then you definitely need to check this out. Otherwise, be warned that you’ll be shocked at how quickly the game is done.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: The ActDeveloper: Chillingo Ltd
Reviewed Ver:Min OS Req:4.0
Price:$2.99App Size:
  • Engaging story
  • Interesting game play mechanic
  • Incredible visuals
  • Neat music
  • Too short

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