If you played the Back To The Future games earlier this year, or went to see that Looper film starring everyone’s favourite baldy mentalist Bruce Willis, you’ll be well prepared for the time travelling nuttiness of A New Beginning. This point n’ click PC adventure game begins rather solemnly with a mysterious armageddon, then follows a small band of survivors who jump back to just before the world ended, in a bid to save humanity. Of course, things don’t go to plan (when do they ever) and it’s up to you to sort it all out.
Let’s do the Time Warp again...
A New Beginning’s sci-fi tale is intriguing from the start, as events are gradually revealed a piece at a time. At first we’re not sure what caused the Earth to self-destruct, and the survivors’ first attempt to leap back and fix things is met with total disaster. Of course, in true time travelling fashion, the story isn’t simply presented as a linear plot. Rather, you find yourself hopping back and forth as one of the survivors, Fay, relates her tale to retired scientist Bent Svensson before it all kicks off, trying to convince him of the impending doom and enlist his help. The plot thickens when the pair join forces, and set out to prevent the planet from going down the spout.
We were fully enraptured by A New Beginning’s moralistic story from the off. We love the way some early scenes jump between Fay’s flounderings in the near future, and her present conversation with Bent as she describes her adventures before they’ve even technically happened. When the pair finally team up, they throw enough jibes at one another to make it feel like a buddy flick.
Unfortunately we weren’t totally enraptured by a chunk of the cast, who are generally a mopey, angry bunch. Take Fay’s boss, who throws out so much scorn and unwarranted fury that he’s almost a parody of those old cop show police chiefs. We’re not expecting everyone to be smiley and chipper given the Earth’s unfortunate demise, but sometimes the weariness can be a little draining.
On the other hand, Fay is a tough, committed woman who is willing to throw herself in great danger to save the planet, but ropey voice acting makes you wish she’d perish in a nuclear dust storm after just a couple of hours. Not only is her voice grating, but she uses the same obnoxious tone no matter the situation, whether she discovered a cockroach in her sleeping bag or her best friend just fell to his death.
That aside, A New Beginning’s gameplay is excellent. You click your way through dozens of 2D scenes as standard, picking up and interacting with objects and solving puzzles to progress, all of which are perfectly implemented into the story. You won’t find yourself rearranging gems to open a kitchen door or any other silliness. Instead, you’ll be working out a way of lifting your pals to safety after they tumble over a waterfall, or convincing a rather scatter-brained stranger to let you inside a vault.
A New Beginning is certaainly challenging in places, but a built-in hotspot highlighter means you’ll never have to pixel-hunt every little corner you come across if you get stuck. We generally knew what we had to do next, with plenty of prompts from the other characters if we ever went astray, so our walkthrough consultations were thankfully minimal. A New Beginning is impressively lengthy too, and the number of hours we played was in the double digits before the end.
That’s beautiful, man
A New Beginning is also nothing short of gorgeous. The hand-drawn backgrounds and characters are rich with detail, from the crumbling San Francisco skylines to the pre-apocalypse locations. A rousing musical score adds to the atmosphere without intruding, and overall the production values are among the best. Which makes it even more of a shame that Fay’s voice acting makes us want to stick our head in a blender.
Aside from some ropey voice acting and some irritating characters, A New Beginning is a deep and complex point n’ click adventure that packs in dozens of fantastic brainteasers and beautiful hand-drawn graphics. This time-bouncing bonanza will grip you for its lengthy duration and you’ll find yourself powering your way to the finish line to find out how it all ends.