I have been hyped on Insecticide for months now. Ever since I saw the first trailer, there was something about the game that really grabbed a hold of me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on that element at first, but as time went on I started to realize what it was. Insecticide didn’t have just one element that was doing it for me, the entire package was pulling me in. Insecticide is a blend of game elements and genres that have come about over the past 20 years. In my opinion, it takes some of the best things that gaming has to offer, and is pouring it into one title. How many times before have we seen games that try to mesh gameplay types into on cohesive experience, but fail miserably in the process? Jack of all trades, yet master of none. That was a worry I had about Insecticide at first, but the more I learned about the title and the team behind it, those worries started to fade away. Now with my latest interaction with the title at GDC, I am more hyped than ever before. GDC was full of games that were beautiful, big-budget adventures, as well as indie projects that were well worth the attention. Still though, with all those titles on display, it was Insecticide that left me with one of the most important elements of gaming…a huge smile on my face.
GameCock was very wise to work with Crackpot Entertainment on this title. Crackpot definitely knows its stuff when it comes ot adventure titles. A portion of the dev team is straight from the LucasArts days when adventure games were a big deal. Yes, we are talking about the ‘Day of the Tentacle’, ‘Full Throttle’ , ‘Secret of Monkey Island’ days, just to name a few major titles. I definitely think that GameCock needs to start some bigtime name-dropping when it comes to Insecticide. Word needs to spread to the public about the people behind the title. Adventure gaming is seeing a resurgence on the Wii and DS, and now some of the best minds from back in the day are bringing one of their classic experiences to the DS. These people know how to make adventure games that work. Spend five minutes with Insecticide, and you will see that.
Insecticide gives me that feeling that I haven’t had in years. It’s that feeling that only an adventure game can give you. Not all adventure games, mind you…but a certain few. The ones where the story is entertaining, the writing has a specific weight and quality to it, and the gameplay is extremely engaging. Even after all these years, Crackpot has managed to hit that sweet spot. Releasing an adventure game on this grand of a scale is a pretty big risk. The adventure genre hasn’t exactly been a huge money-maker lately. As I mentioned earlier, the adventure genre is having a bit of a comeback, thanks to the control methods of the Wii and DS. We still haven’t had that one big title that brings things back to the glory days of LucasArts adventuring. I honestly think that Insecticide could be the title to do that.
There is one major difference when comparing Insecticide to the adventure games of the 90s. Crackpot knows the reason why adventure gaming died. The games simply had too much adventure, and not enough action. The gaming public, for the most part, is not willing to play through a 10 hour game that doesn’t let you shoot anyone. It’s not even the act of shooting…it’s just ‘action’ in general. Adventure games were always about telling stories, solving puzzles, and witty dialog. That is why I loved them so much. Their stories were far superior to any other titles available. In the end, other genres won out due to their action focus. I am not saying that action titles are bad, not by a long shot. I do sorely miss the adventure genre though. So how did Crackpot go about solving this problem?
Instead of sitting back to watch cutscenes full of action, Insecticide lets you play those parts of the game. Crackpot understand that they need to split the gameplay if there are to be any hopes of the title doing well. Insecticide is a pretty even split in the gameplay department…50% action, 50% adventure. The storyline in Insecticide makes the perfect playground for both elements. For those that don’t know, Insecticide is a cop/detective crime thriller. Anyone that watches detective movies (or the rash of detective shows on TV) knows that there are portions of investigation and puzzle solving, as well as lots of action. That is exactly how Insecticide plays out. You’ll spend some of your time solving puzzles in order to get witness statements, and gain clues to help solve the overall mystery. You’ll also be jumping from rooftop to rooftop, hunting down criminals and fighting off other seedy characters. There is puzzle solving, conversation elements, platforming, and run-and-gun. It seems like a lot for one game to handle. In most cases it would be, but Insecticide’s setup allows for all of these elements.
Have I had a chance to sit down and play through a good portion of the game? Unfortunately, I have not. What I did get was a lengthy run-through of the early portions of the game, as well as an intimate discussion with one of the game’s developers. I had any and all of my questions answered, plus I got to see all aspects of the game. From what I did see, I could tell that the game has an excellent blend of elements that could satisfy everyone. As long as the gameplay doesn’t get too heavy on either end (be that adventure or action), the overall experience should be quite a uniquely entertaining one. The brief look at the characters and their conversations proved to me that the writing style and storyline elements that I love from adventures games are definitely in full force here.
While we were being shown the DS version, the PC version was running on a TV in the background. I couldn’t help but have my attention drawn to that TV every now and again. The PC version will follow the same story as the DS title, but it has a few different play mechanics along the way. As I stood there with Cort and Nicky, we all had to comment on the PC version. It looks absolutely perfect for the Wii. The play mechanics seemed to be spot-on with what the Wiimote could do. Even the graphics looked to be within the realm of what the Wii could handle. So, is Crackpot interested in bringing the game to the Wii? I think the answer is a resounding 100% yes. Unfortunately, that choice isn’t Crackpot’s to make. Basically, GameCock has to be convinced that this is a business opportunity worth going into. If GameCock does go ahead with the idea, Crackpot is all for it. Their team no-doubt believes the game would work well on the Wii, and they even talked about WiiWare as a possibility. Insecticide is an episodic adventure on the PC, which would work just fine over WiiWare. Crackpot also has some friends over at TellTale, which they’ve talked to about WiiWare. I think we need to wait until the PC/DS versions release, in order to see how the public takes to them. If there is enough support from the consumer, I think some progress can be made on a Wii version.
Insecticide is a game to keep your eye on. There really hasn’t been anything quite like this on the DS. There have been action and adventure titles, but nothing that blends the two together in this style. On top of that, there are top-notch writers here as well. These guys know their way around an adventure game. Basically, if all works out in the end, Insecticide will provide an experience just like the LucasArts games did, but with a lot of action as well. A thinking-man’s platformer, or a twitch gamer’s puzzler. Either way, this game deserves a lot of attention. Keep your fingers crossed that all of these elements come together in the final product. Insecticide is due to hit the streets on March 11th. The DS version is 100% finished, boxed and ready to go. The PC version is in the home stretch. This is going to be a simultaneous release…so if there is a delay, blame PC!