Release Date: 2/22/2011
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The Good: Dark and engaging story, main characters are interesting, unique art style
The Bad: Having no guidance almost breaks the entire game, clicking around aimlessly can be frustrating, inconsistent character designs, hand drew cut scenes are pretty bad, voice acting is spotty
Point and click adventures are still abundant, but good ones are hard to come by, and even rarer are ones that make it mainstream. Gray Matter is a game that has a story a bit more sophisticated than your typical adventure game. You play as both Samantha Everett and David Styles who are probably the most interesting characters of the game. Sam is an orphan who is traveling the world, but her bike breaks down in London and she winds up at Dread Hill which is the home of Dr. Styles. Dr. Styles is researching ways to bring his wife’s spirit back after a fatal car accident and he’ll do anything to get this research done. The rest of the characters are people you recruit for the research, but their personalities aren’t as likable as the main characters.
The story really gets involved and has a twist ending that will surprise you so playing through the game is worth it. The game play consists of your typical clicking on things to find the clues and move on. However, Gray Matter is severely flawed in that you have missions to complete and each mission has a number of points associated with finding things. If you miss a few points you have to scour the huge world in the game to find what you missed. This can lead to hours of hunting and click on everything until you find it. Certain events won’t trigger until missions are done which I really hate. It is also little to no direction on where to go and what to do in the game. There are different areas in the game you can jump to, but there are so many things to click on that the game is nearly impossible to beat without a guide. Later in the game, you run into a labyrinthine maze type area and this will take forever without some kind of guide.
There are a few interesting things Gray Matter does for the adventure genre and these are magic tricks. You get a book of magic and you have to use it to get certain things done in the game. Things bring up a new window that has you following instructions on how to map out the trick. Its interesting and changes the pace a bit. Of course, there is a mini-game tossed in here and there, but most of the time you will be running around clicking on everything almost blindly and this really hurts the flow and pacing of the game.
The visuals in the game are decent, but the drawn cutscenes that are just a few frames really aren’t that great. The art is smudgy, and the character design is inconsistent throughout the whole game. The in-game models will be completely different from the hand drawn scenes, but then some scenes will have the characters looking different. I found this very weird and annoying. Overall the art is very nice especially towards the end of the game in the Daedalus Club.
The voice acting is decent at best, but Sam’s actress is pretty bad and sounds cheesy. Most of the game is all British actors so there isn’t much variety. My favorite character of them all is Dr. Styles who is struggling within himself to go out and socialize, but he feels like a monster due to the scar on his face. The game is really an acquired taste among both adventure gamers and hardcore gamers alike.
If you can stomach the goalless wandering of the game by either using a guide or just aimlessly clicking everywhere you will be rewarded with a rich and dark story. The game also has a decent length that will run you about 8-10 hours and that’s if you just use a guide and run through the game. I really wish the game would guide you more because it almost breaks the entire game.