From the snowy streets of New York in the early Twenties to the rum soaked streets of Havana, A Golden Wake tells the story of young Alfie Banks and his involvement in the real estate boom of the early part of the twentieth century. I got my mouse hand ready to point and click my way to fame and fortune. Follow me back in time as I discover the story behind a bygone era...
Alfie Banks is a cool customer. As the top salesman in his late father's real estate company, life seems to be going swimmingly. An office grudge however sees him jobless and alone on the wintry avenues of the Big Apple, and Alfie decides to try his luck in the newly developing city of Miami. Sun and success bring glamour to his life, but Alfie soon discovers that even the best laid plans can go awry, and hard work and a persuasive nature don't necessarily make for a happy life.
In this point and click adventure from Grundislav Games we follow Alfie through his ups and downs as he tries to make an impression and live up to his deceased father's reputation. Eager to please, he takes odd jobs and errands for more influential people, most of which lead to puzzles to be solved in the time honoured graphic adventure fashion of combining objects or using inventory items on background items.
Alfie has a few tricks up his sleeve to keep this from being repetitive though. Quite a few puzzles in the game are designed around innate sales intuition and using conversation to influence people. A silver tongue can stop a bank robbery in progress or convince a group of investors to buy land, and certainly makes things easier for Alfie. This is certainly a novel feature in a point and click game, and for the most part it works well. Some of the later conversations are somewhat obtuse however, with no read on the character to help you along. Luckily, you can use your Intuition (a hint system), and if you fail to convince somebody there is always a plan B to get what you want. It can be very satisfying to roll through a conversation and bend someone to your will, and is a pretty cool mechanic to play with. I do wish that the conversations weren't insta-fail for the most part, as to get the best out of the game and truly feel like a slick, smooth talking salesman it seems that a replay is necessary.
The non-conversational puzzles are great for the most part, and focus on attention to detail and listening well to hints dropped by other characters rather than mindless inventory clicking while crossing fingers. This upshot of this is that we pay attention to the NPCs, which is the real joy in this game. The voice acting is superb: full of personality and attention to period detail with none of the stunted conversations or boring characters that can be found in other games. Plenty of attention is paid to the background as well, bringing a young Miami to life in glorious pixel-o-vision. The game is produced by Wadjet Eye Games (of Blackwell fame) so it's no surprise that the final product feels so well written and acted.
In terms of duration A Golden Wake weighs in at around four hours, which is what seems to be the standard for a graphic adventure these days. It's a pleasure to play through and tells a tight story, so I don't lament the brevity of the game. There is definitely the possibility of a replay, as I don't think anyone is likely to nail all the conversations successfully on the first attempt.
So, all told, A Golden Wake is a lovely little adventure that tells an interesting narrative, with a new puzzle mechanic. If you can forgive a few little quibbles, it's definitely worth a look! It's available here.