Truberbrook is a new point and click adventure that has come to us from the heart of Germany. It has been developed by btf, who are a collective of art students from Cologne and Berlin who have worked on a wide range of projects, including TV, short films and music videos. Truberbrook was also partly funded by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg as part of a programme for the development and production of innovative audio-visual content. Truberbrook has been published by headup and is available for console and PC.
For starters, Truberbrook is a beautiful game. Set in 1960’s West Germany it follows our protagonist Hans Tannhauser as he discovers the sleepy eponymous town and realises that its not quite as it seems. Although there are only a handful of locations to explore, they all look like they have been lifted from a postcard. The game has been made using a process where all the scenes have been made from miniature scale models before being scanned and digitally polished. The result is astounding. However, unfortunately the rest of the game doesn’t quite live up to the visuals.
Truberbrook has some similarity to the point and click adventures of old, especially Monkey Island, however it doesn’t live up to the quality of those in either the writing or the story. Although it kicks off with a very interesting scene that leaves you wanting more exposition, the movement of the location to the town of Truberbrook slows things down quite considerably. Exploring the town is reasonably interesting to start with, but the limited number of locations means that the sequence of events needed is very linear. For example, completing a puzzle may create a change in one of the other locations, meaning at times you’re just randomly revisiting past locations to try to progress. It all just feels a bit disjointed. Sometimes the sequence of events is quite obvious, as acquiring a key will obviously send you back to locked doors, but at times this isn’t the case and revisiting a past location will reveal a new character standing there, with no real direction from the game to point you back there.
There are also some issues with the voice acting, especially the main character. Again, it feels slow and ponderous, and is lacking any excitement. The story is not quite good enough either. I can see what the aim was, but once it gets into the detail of the main plotline it reverts to being a standard sci-fi tale. Some of the characters are good fun though, especially your interactions with Trude, the owner of the local hotel, who takes a particular interest to one of your inventory items, and there is a lot of good humour in your interactions.
There are unfortunately some other niggles I had. There is no description to inventory items, so you are left to work out what they are via their pictorial representation. Most commands are done from the D-Pad, and obviously you move around with LS, so your right hand is doing absolutely nothing. I did realise late on that the d-pad is mirrored on the ABXY buttons, which isn’t really communicated. Truberbrook also features a location that seems to serve no purpose whatsoever, along with some of the buildings in the town square which are completely unused. One thing that really irritates me is seeing spelling mistakes in professionally produced work, and there are plenty to be found in the on-screen subtitles, which is really quite unforgivable.
In summary, Truberbrook is a really interesting game with some interesting ideas but is let down by some basic gameplay mechanic errors. I can’t help but think if there had been a small input from an industry expert to sort the linearity and control issues then we would have been looking at an exceptional point and click adventure game. The start and end sequences are probably the most intriguing and point to a missed opportunity in the main game to give the main plot line more of an impact. However, in its current format Truberbrook falls short of the required quality, which was a huge disappointment to me given the incredible visuals. Definitely worth a look if its in a sale though, or if it drops to Game Pass.