Small Town Mysteries
By Brett Wolfe
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on September 22nd for Xbox One (Also Available on PS4 & PC)
Developer: Variable State Ltd Publisher: 505 Games
Big city blues bringing you down? Well take a visit to a small town in Virginia. There is enough excitement to go around. Virginia is a first-person point and click adventure-thriller that was developed by Variable State. This title follows the protagonist Anne Tarver, a new special agent for the FBI, who is tasked with gaining the trust of Maria Halperin while they investigate a missing persons case. This case takes place during one week and you will quickly learn that things are not as they seem in this small town.
The gameplay mechanics are pretty simplistic being a point and click adventure game. The controls are like any other point and click game as you can move the character, look around, and use actions on certain items. This title is very sporadic when it changes levels. I find it similar to the way that an TV episode does it, where you arrive at a location, do what needs to be done, then are instantly transported to your next location. I feel this mechanic really helps with the flow of gameplay as it lets you experience the location and then moves on before the area over stays its welcome.
The experience is the selling point of Virginia, and the visuals and soundtrack that tie into it are amazing. The game features a nice cell-shaded cubism style of graphics. The characters look real by their movement and their expressions; however, the graphics look straight out of a painting. I feel that this really adds to the simplicity of the me. The soundtrack is one and the same. The music that plays in this game is just stunning and really makes the moment. The score that plays in the background puts you in the mood and prepares you for what you are about to see. An aspect of this game that was strange at first was that there is no dialogue in the entire game. The whole story is told by the emotions that characters use towards you and the other characters in the game. It was strange at first, but as I got further in the game, I found it amazing that I was getting a story without a single word of dialogue.
Before playing Virginia, I was really excited with the trailers that released and could not wait to dive in. I was not disappointed one bit with the product that was presented. Thrillers and more importantly mysteries are one of my favorite parts in media (The X-Files is one of my favorite shows of all time) and this game did not fail to impress me with the mysterious atmosphere and the overarching presences of the unknown. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Anne and Maria and it reminded me a lot of the relationship that Fox Mulder and Dana Scully had (Just racking up the X-Files references). They start off not really knowing one another and then they grow into a dynamic duo. Even when hard times hit they always come back to each other. Another aspect that really enthralled me was the incidents of unknown that would occur right off camera. It gave me the feeling that something was right out of reach and felt like a metaphor for the characters not being able to understand what it was. My favorite notion of this would be during a scene where Anne is going through a drain tunnel and a bright, other-worldly light appears at the end. However, the source of this light is not discovered once you reach the end of the tunnel. This game was all about the interpretations of the surroundings which is great as from player to player, the overall story line could differ. In my belief that light was a warning that Anne needed to rethink the path she was taking before continuing, while another player could think it was something different entirely. This level of interpretation is not explored in many games as it is the story the writers want to tell, but I believe that the inclusion of this in Virginia made the story much richer. I was able to put my own thoughts to what was going on and I could not have been happier.
Replayability when it comes to Virginia is another aspect that could differ from person to person. I personally played the game twice due to there being an achievement for doing so. However, it did not feel like a burden to do so. I found myself noticing different things from the first playthrough and I also noticed a few things that changed in my interpretation due to previously finishing it. I would say a majority of the people should take two playthroughs to make sure you see everything.
Virginia is priced at $10 USD and I feel that that is a decent price point. The game isn’t a long one; however, I feel that the experience that comes from the game is worth that money alone. The game will take on average of 2 hours per playthrough, but the time flies. This game should be a definite pick up for any mystery or thriller fan. So, if you believe you are ready, it is time to take a trip through Virginia.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review
Final Score: 8/10
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