Sep 22, 2012

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Bigfoot: Chasing Shadows Review

Bigfoot: Chasing Shadows Review

“An I Spy adventure game with a bone-chilling narrative” is probably what developer G5 had in mind with Bigfoot: Chasing Shadows. Unfortunately, the final product doesn’t always realize this, although there is some good fun to be had here.  Hunting for hidden objects can become boring quickly thanks to a few poor design choices, but the semi-interesting mini-games break up the monotony and freshen things up.

The game’s story begins with a news report about Bigfoot sightings and chemical spills.  The writers must have realized how incredibly bland this (and every other) sequence is, because the viewer’s attention is almost immediately taken away from the news anchor and directed toward the running script at the bottom, featuring hilariously fake news stories.  The writers’ creativity really shines through here, but sadly, this charm does not continue throughout the rest of the game.  The voice-acting is mediocre at best, and occasionally the wrong audio clip will play, not corresponding at all with the text, raising the question of how much testing this game underwent.  The story plays out like a mystery, following a female reporter, but disappoints overall.

The main game consists of finding objects in a room, watching a cutscene, and proceeding to the next room. Oftentimes the objects you find will be used to solve simple puzzles, such as finding a key to unlock a door or box.  There are a few problems with the basic gameplay. First is the responsiveness.  The game lets you know when something you clicked on doesn’t register, which is fine, but many times I had to click on an object ten times or more before it would count as “finding” it.  Another problem is the list on the right, which shows you what you need to find.  Only a few things can appear at a time, meaning you might find something, forget it’s there, then be told you have to find it later.  This queue system is especially aggravating when a single entry takes up a lot of space, such as “wear these when the sun is bright”.  Thankfully, the developers implemented an infinitely helpful “hint” system.  The game does get difficult.  Some objects are so well hidden, randomly clicking around the screen rather than straining your eyes staring into the dark backgrounds is your best strategy.  Thankfully, the minigames can be rather entertaining.  That isn’t to say they’re very good, but just the fact that you get a break from searching for nails, crowbars and beakers (a word the designers would define as “any object related to chemistry”) for the tenth time will put a smile on your face.

The graphics are actually impressive, despite a few very awkward-looking character models.  Bigfoot goes for a photorealistic style, which works well for this type of game; the animations aren’t complex in any regard, but they don’t need to be.  Occasionally objects blend into the backgrounds, however, which is frustrating.  The sound is overall poor, especially the voice acting.  The music is actually fair, although it can get repetitive.

The game is definitely long enough. It takes about four to ten hours to completion, depending on how much the player implements the “hint” feature. One of the most frustrating things about Bigfoot is the pacing and level setup.  There is no level-select menu to be found here, although you can replay the minigames at any time from the main menu.  When you complete a level, you get a pop-up asking you to review the game, then an awkward transition to the next cutscene.  You are forced to watch the beginning of the cutscene before you can pause and quit.  When I first started the game, I got a notification from another app, and the cutscene skipped to the end, forcing me to restart.  A convenient level select would fix these problems, and this game certainly begs for it, leaving the final product feeling somewhat rushed and disorganized.

Bigfoot ends up being a mediocre game at best.  There are definitely high points, but the game’s boring story, flawed gameplay mechanics, and poor overall structure leave it lacking in quality overall.

Bigfoot: Chasing Shadows
Platform: iPad, iPhone
Genre: Hidden Object
Release Date: August 17, 2012
Developer: Joy Bits
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
ESRB Rating: 4+
MSRP: $4.99 (iPhone) $6.99 (iPad)