|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Work Jam||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Aksys Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 30, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
Though theres no shortage of point-and-click adventuring on DS, mature games are few and far between. Publisher Aksys Games, however, now brings us another title to add to the short list of spooky tales on the handheld. Theresia: Dear Emile mixes real-time adventure with point-and-click puzzle-solving to offer a story that winds more twisted at every turn.
To tell you much about the story would spoil things, but suffice it to say, Theresia is a well-written tale that reveals itself little by little as you journey through its creepy halls. You awaken in a darkened room, your hands covered in blood. Youve lost all memory of where and who you are. However, as you progress, faint glimpses of your past come rushing back to you as crippling thunderbolts of realization. You must escape this place!
Theresias gameplay is likely most comparable to Hotel Dusk, though the perspective here remains strictly within the first-person. You move around the map in real-time, but when examining objects, rooms, and other gameplay elements, youll interact with 2D backdrops. Movement throughout the games maps, however, is very much like that of Orcs & Elves (a DS RPG by id Software). Your character moves frame by frame along a grid, and its perhaps the games main shortcoming. Since youll be doing quite a bit of backtracking as is the norm with this type of adventure the grid-based movement can make Theresia feel a tad slow and plodding at times.
However, when it comes to its puzzle solving and story elements, this horrifying adventure, for the most part, comes together fairly well. The interface is very easy to use; its unobtrusive and complementary to the games atmosphere. The controls consist of various icons, which allow you to interact with environments and items in different ways. An eye icon, for instance, allows you to take a closer look at elements of a room or object; the hand icon lets you actually interact with these things. The items you collect are neatly partitioned on the right-hand side of the touch screen a system easy to navigate and enjoyable to use. You also have a health gauge, as interacting with certain objects can result in painful consequences. The game is quite forgiving in that sense, but with limited healing items (elixirs), Theresia encourages you to take pause before simply poking and prodding everything you encounter as you vie for your escape.
The game takes place within a dark and brooding atmosphere, and though it isnt truly a survival-horror experience as there are no jump-out-at-you moments, zombie chases, and the like it remains both creepy and somewhat horrifying the entire way through. The game is comprised of interesting and clever puzzles to solve, though, unfortunately, use of the touch screen stays within the realm of basic point and click. The lack of any unique, DS-centric gameplay is perhaps a missed opportunity, yet Theresia manages to remain engaging in spite of its simple approach. Much of the gameplay here (sans the action elements) is somewhat reminiscent of the original Resident Evil, as youll need to think outside the box in order to solve certain puzzles. Occasionally, though, youll be tasked to use items or engage objects in ways that make little or no sense within the given context, and most players will likely find themselves stumped for a while during these portions of the game.