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Moebius: Empire Rising review: A point-and-click 'adventure' against game mechanics

Hayden Dingman | April 21, 2014
A dastardly conspiracy? Historical guess-who? Shadowy government agency?

A dastardly conspiracy? Historical guess-who? Shadowy government agency?

Don't worry! Malachi Rector is on the case. Who's Malachi Rector? Why, he's a world-renowned antiques appraiser of course — a career I can only assume he was saddled with the same day his parents gave him that awful name.

You know, before his mother was eaten by a lion.

This is Moebius: Empire Rising.

Don't get too excited

I'm afraid with that sort of intro, I've already oversold this game. "Holy $!&@, his mother is eaten by a lion? Is this a so-bad-it's-good masterpiece?" Unfortunately not. See, while Moebius does have a certain pulp, dime-novel quality to its story, it's just not very good.

Moebius is the latest point-and-click adventure game from Jane Jensen, creator of the famed Gabriel Knight series of yesteryear. For a Kickstarter-funded game, there's a pedigree behind Moebius that should be exciting — which, frankly, is why it's so surprising the game is an utter chore to play.

You're the aforementioned Mr. Rector (geddit?), a man with a personality as lively as a dead peacock. Rector jets around the world telling people the expensive antiques they're about to buy are actually forgeries. In return he makes a lot of money.

Except one day there's a new client: an undercover government agency known as FITA. The agency wants Rector to investigate the murder of an Italian socialite. Turns out history repeats itself in certain patterns, and Rector's actions could help usher in a period of unprecedented prosperity for the United States. You know, after Obama wrecked the entire country, or whatever the subtext is here.

There's basic point-and-click action here. You explore environments, interact with objects, and talk to people. There's also a half-baked logic puzzle where you match people up with their historical counterparts, but it feels less like you're a genius when you solve them and more like you just ran down a list of checkmarks.

You'll also occasionally make judgments about people you encounter, which you'd think would play into how Rector approaches his conversations with that person. Not really — as far as I could tell, these judgments were for score purposes only and had no real effects in-game. There's also an awkward amount of condescension implied in most of them — a woman wearing a bright-colored shirt is, at one point, labeled "sexually frustrated" for no apparent reason.

The story's not great, by any means. As you've probably gathered, it's jam-packed with cliché and outright silly situations, plus an awful sexual tension between Rector and his sidekick that feels outright forced. But for all that, it was enjoyable enough. By about the third or fourth chapter I was hooked, and at least wanted to see it through to the end.


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