Adam’s Venture: Origins Review (Xbox One)

The bar for adventure games has clearly been set by the Uncharted and Tomb Raider franchises. This is tough for games of a similar style, like Adam’s Venture: Origins, because they always run the risk of being a dubbed a “poor man’s adventure”. After watching a run-of-the-mill trailer and sitting down to play the game, I was guilty of that same accusation. It wasn’t until I realized that Adam’s Venture: Origins wasn’t trying to be those games, that I started to find myself enjoying this puzzling venture.

There is a lot of narrative in the game, and like similar adventure titles it can be a bit hard to follow. Set in the 1920’s you play as Adam Venture, a sleepy, bad-joke-telling son of a former adventurer who just keeps finding himself in precarious positions. In a nutshell you are trying to find King Solomon’s treasure and protect whatever ruins it lays in before the evil Clairvaux company gets to it. Teaming up with your father’s new assistant, Evelyn Appleby, you set out and explore cavernous ruins, middle eastern cities and forgotten tombs. While it isn’t a bad story, it wasn’t very engaging and the ending especially was a bit cliché and predictable.

Adam’s Venture: Origins plays in the third-person and it’s important to note that there is no combat whatsoever. Adam doesn’t throw a single punch, let alone hold a gun, throughout the entire game. The bulk of the gameplay is exploring on foot, using your grappling hook to swing across chasms, and lots of puzzle solving. Every level has multiple puzzles that range from surprisingly clever to incredibly frustrating. I preferred the puzzles that involved math, whether it was adding and subtracting pressure nodes to fix a windmill or decoding numerical symbols to open a doorway, they were my favorite. Other puzzles left me…puzzled, with no idea what to do and no hints to be found. In cases like that you are just left blindly clicking buttons or searching online for solutions. This happened to me more times than I am proud to admit. It would have been nice if some of the puzzles could have been explained a bit more either by narrative or just hints.

There are a few stealth sequences where you have to sneak through areas undetected; these were a lowlight of the game for me. You are tasked with avoiding flashlight-wielding guards with amazing vision but bad hearing. What makes it so frustrating is that while crouching behind objects, you sometimes can’t see where the guard is looking. That means in just these few sections there will be many occasions where a guard will suddenly turn and catch you, forcing a restart. While there are checkpoints, they are often not placed in an ideal location. Meaning after a pretty long load time of more than 10 seconds you will have to backtrack slightly to try again.

Adam’s Venture: Origins has controls that are easy to remember, but Adam himself does not move very fluidly. Climbing, jumping and shimmying are a bit rough as is simply crouching and uncrouching. A slight delay threw off my timing multiple times and caused me to either get caught sneaking or fall to my death. As a player you should be prepared to die a few cheap deaths. I did however feel accomplished after successfully swinging from area to area with my grappling hook, or reaching the end of one of the thrilling mine cart sections towards the end of the campaign.

Graphically the game looks pretty good for a downloadable game, but nothing that I think couldn’t be done on last generation hardware. There are nice lighting and shadow effects both indoors and outdoors, whether it be trees swaying in the wind or purple mushrooms sheening near torchlight in the caves. While the graphics won’t blow you away, I have to give credit to Vertigo Games and SODESCO Publishing because it’s obvious they put effort into the graphics. All the characters in the game are voiced, which is welcome, but the acting itself leaves a lot to be desired and their mouths don’t move. Adam makes a lot of cheesy jokes throughout the game and they just aren’t delivered with any oomph by the voice actor. There were also sections where the subtitles came up but no words were spoken, leading to long sections of silence. It seems some of the audio was left out, which is completely unacceptable for a $49.99 game in 2016.

No that’s not a typo, this digital download game is priced at $49.99. I feel like this is going to be the elephant in the room when people talk about Adam’s Venture: Origins. I don’t want to dwell on it but I was shocked when I heard that was the price. The game can be completed in less than five hours and there really is no replay value at all, no collectables, no difficulty settings. I feel like the game would be a good $19.99 game and a great $14.99 game. In a world where AAA games drop to $50 and below just weeks after release, this price tag is a very hard to swallow.

Final Thoughts:

I can say honestly that I enjoyed much of my brief stint in the Adam Venture universe. It was a nice change not to worry about combat and just enjoy the various settings. The game had me writing down notes for a few puzzles, and the feeling of accomplishment when solving them was something I don’t experience often anymore. Unfortunately, it’s hard to overlook some poor presentation moments, low replay value and high asking price. The game’s ending leaves room for a sequel, hopefully the groundwork has been laid for more polished entries in the future.

+ Enjoyable pace kept me playing multiple sections in a row

+ Some of the puzzles are rewarding to solve

+ It’s an easy gamerscore completion

–  Stealth sections and repetitive, difficult puzzles in the last level

–   Poor checkpoint placement and long loading times

–   Short campaign with no replay value

–   Price, price and price

Overall: 6/10

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