It's not often that we'd look forward to getting stuck into a game all about real estate salesmanship, but A Golden Wake is well worthy of our and your attention. This old-school point n' click adventure comes from the geniuses at Wadjet Eye, known for smashing out classics like noir thriller Gemini Rue and the Blackwell supernatural detective series. And while A Golden Wake may sport very different themes to those previous hits, it's still a surprisingly fun game that's drenched with atmosphere, although admittedly it's a little light on the brain.
A Golden Wake is set during the glamorous 1920s, when prohibition was in full swing, everyone wore funky hats and Steve Buscemi enjoyed capping fools who got in his way. You play as Alfie Banks, a real estate salesman who sees an opportunity after getting the sack and moves down to the blossoming swamps of Florida, to bag himself a brand new job at the Coral Gables development. But impressing the region's biggest developer won't be easy.
You'll need to prove you're the best in the business by any means, from winning the loyalty of the local press to thieving plans from a local rival. And even when the job's yours, Alfie finds himself caught up with mobsters, bank robbers and all manner of high jinks.
Although A Golden Wake sports a very casual pace and little in the way of tension, certainly compared with Wadjet Eye's previous titles, it's still a compelling experience thanks to its well-imagined period setting and humorous approach. Sure, it's not exactly laugh out loud hilarious, but you'll regularly cross paths with all manner of amusing characters. From the world's laziest secretary to the overly charming and eccentric salesman you meet as you first hit town, they've all got their own personalities and they're all suitably entertaining, and not just stuck in to advance the plot.
Gameplay will be immediately familiar to point n' click connoisseurs. For the most part, you move around and interact with the world using your cursor, chatting with your fellow residents and picking up helpful items to progress the story. However, you'll also occasionally be called upon to use those killer salesman skills, to sway an individual and get what you want. This involves reading their body language and choosing what you think is the correct approach to wear them down.
It's a neat idea which isn't used as often as we'd like, although we did find ourselves breezing through these sections with ease. In fact, we were rarely troubled by A Golden Wake, which is definitely one of Wadjet Eye's easiest games to date. Not necessarily a bad thing, as we were happily entertained for the reasonably lengthy duration, but hardcore adventurers might be a little disappointed at how straightforward the puzzles are.
Presentation-wise, A Golden Wake matches previous Wadjet Eye titles for sheer charm. The graphics and music are all beautifully and lovingly produced with an old-school 90's vibe, like the very best LucasArts classics. We loved the background music, which adds to the overall atmosphere, plus the voice acting features plenty of cheesy prohibition-era drawls.
The subject matter of A Golden Wake won't match everyone's tastes, while the lower difficulty will also no doubt disappoint some adventure game enthusiasts, but A Golden Wake kept us entertained from start to finish thanks to some interesting characters, smart scripting and buckets of old school charm.