Review: MISSING An Interactive Thriller: Episode One
All the awesomeness of a 90’s FMV puzzle adventure without the pesky CD-ROMS!
Growing up a fan of games like The 7th Guest and Jedi Knight, there’s always been a special place in my gaming heart for full motion video (FMV). Games like Heavy Rain and LA Noire create strong relationships between nearly live characters and the player; but seeing real people acting out scenes in FMV is an experience (for better or awesomely worse) that just cannot be matched with digital characters. We’d likely not still be talking about Nightmare if the VHS tapes contained a synthetic character. Sometimes campy and sometimes engrossing (and sometimes both), FMV is a design technique in gaming that is criminally under-used, occasionally turning up in modern series like Command and Conquer and the Need for Speed series, for instance.
Enter MISSING: An Interactive Thriller – Episode One from Zandel Media. As you might expect, MISSING is a point-and-click style interactive adventure that places you in the shoes of a man who finds himself shackled inside a strange warehouse environment. With no clue how you got there, or who put you there, your character sets himself to the task of escape and discovery.
The game plays out as a series of video sequences that are used to set up the gameplay and advance the narrative, before relinquishing control of the game to the player. The gameplay consists of elements you commonly find in point-and-click games: hidden object search, puzzle solving, and using objects in the right place at the right time. The puzzles are intuitive and will be familiar to veterans of the genre but the feeling is definitely more in-the-pocket than been-there-done-that.
Unraveling the story is the drive behind MISSING: An Interactive Thriller. What turned out to be my only gripe (also a compliment) is that the game left me wanting more of it. MISSING is an episodic game, and while Episode One feels just a bit too short, it uses that time to set up an interesting mystery to unfold in future episodes.
It can be sometimes difficult to describe a game whose story and puzzles are the central elements, without spoiling the story and the situated puzzles that you’ll find along the way. I’ll only offer one word of caution that I did not have before playing the game. MISSING also has some light quick time events… so don’t let the game’s movie-like quality lure you into a sense of security.
Because QTE seems to be a polarizing game feature in some circles, this is not the type of QTE that you will ruin friendships arguing about, its thoughtfully used and well-placed. I had a lot of fun with the QTE once I knew they were part of this experience. However, I played the game on PC, and while the visual quality of the video was great on a larger screen, the overall gameplay of MISSING is more conducive to touch than it is mouse and keyboard.
MISSING: An Interactive Thriller – Episode One is a great throwback to the classic FMV games on the 90’s. The opening episode sets up an interesting story of mystery and tension, despite feeling like the episode could have been just a bit longer. The gameplay and puzzles will be familiar to fans of point-and-click adventures, but they make sense in the narrative and propel it forward. MISSING: An Interactive Thriller shows great promise for future episodes and is recommended to fans of point-and-click adventures or players, gamers who long for the nostalgia of classic FMV, and anyone looking for an interesting narrative experience in the current mobile landscape.
Reviewed on PC / Steam with review code provided by Zandel Media. MISSING Episode One is available on PC, Mac, iTunes, Google Play, and Kindle Fire.