Trüberbrook - great visuals, little substance

On an beautiful autumn day in the 1960s American physicist arrives at the remote tiny German village of Trüberbrook, on a travel he won in a lottery he didn't participate in. During the first night in the local guest house his valuable research papers are stolen out of his suitcase and thats where the quest starts.

Trüberbrook is a classic point-and-click adventure with some elements that unfortunately make it rather casual. The worst of all is the auto-puzzling. As soon as you click an object the context menu let's you know what you can do with it, even when it actually requires some elaborate thinking. The game is thinking for you and automatically combines items for a specific use. An example: there a swampy spot that you cannot simply walk through but if you have rubber boots and 2 dustbin lids in your inventory the context menu for the swampy spot automatically displays a combination of these 3 items as an icon you just click to solve the puzzle. If you haven't yet collected all required items the ones you have will be displayed and a hint suggests what's missing. With this feature the game takes over what actually constitutes the core mechanics of the genre and major gameplay that should be totally in the hand of the player.

The greatest strength of Trüberbrook are certainly the visuals. Everything in the game in based on real models and photography. In a procedure called photogrammetry previously built real models were turned into digital 3D models and imported into the game engine. The result is a rather unique look and feel. It's just a little unfortunate that sometimes you won't really notice differences between high end 3D models and the models created in this extremely elaborate procedure. A little bit more of claymation and stop motion look & feel in tradition of the The Neverhood and The Dream Machine could have made the game even more outstanding.

Another weak spot is unfortunately the story and setting. The village of Trüberbrook is great and its inhabitants are too although they could be even a little more quirky. Chapter 1 is great, chapter 2 in which the protagonist tries to escape a sanatorium feels a little odd and detached from the rest of the game, the next 3 or 4 scenes are still ok but then the following plot twist turns the investigation of a theft of research papers in a small rural German village into a universe and dimensions spanning conspiracy. The pace of story increases dramatically and feels rushed, the twist of the antagonist seems very odd and inexplicable, the story as whole is rather inconclusive. The game would have profited very much from mystery crime story focused on Trüberbrook, it's quirky inhabitants and strange visitors.

Amazing graphics but lacking substance is a conclusion you rarely have to draw for games in the genre of point-and-click adventures but for Trüberbrook it hits the nail on the head. Nevertheless Trüberbrook is a reluctant recommendation for fans of the genre due to its high production values in the audiovisual area. It's not the greatest game but a still a piece of art you shouldn't miss.
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