1954: Alcatraz review – pleasingly alternative adventure game

Jail

A moody, jazz-filled mid-20th century San Francisco is the stage for this grimy slice of human desperation.

Convict Joe, sentenced to life, aims to escape the Rock, while his musician wife Christine plans to leave the city for a new life in Mexico. It's an unusually realistic scenario for a point-and-click adventure game, but that realism is part of the appeal.

The game's tone and locations evoke the period, right down to the leads encountering the uncomfortable casual racism of the day. Fantastic voice acting and intriguing dialogue options also impress. Elsewhere though, 1954: Alcatraz fails to live up to its potential.

Despite a noirish charm, the character designs do not translate well to 3D, resulting in blocky and weirdly misshapen figures. Puzzles are also disappointingly simplistic in places. For a pleasingly alternative approach to adventure games, Alcatraz is worth a look, but the genre can, and has, done better.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Matt Kamen, for The Observer on Sunday 6th April 2014 00.05 Europe/London

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