“A sci-fi noir adventure in the tradition of Blade Runner and Beneath a Steel Sky.”
If there ever was a synopsis for a game that perfectly fit my gaming tastes, it’s got to be Gemini Rue’s. It’s truly a game after my own cyberpunk-loving heart—at least at first glance. Gemini Rue takes places in a not-so-distant future where the streets of the Gemini system are ruled by a Mafia-like gang called the Boryokudan, massive mining operations shut down the weather systems on the planets of Gemini, and scruffy ex-criminal detectives are still squinty-eyed and jaded. This is the familiar, fully imagined world of Gemini Rue.
While it’s true that it unashamedly pulls influences from the Ridley Scott masterpiece, Gemini Rue is a game that takes its world very seriously. The rain pours down heavily upon the grimy city that you begin in—the distinctly Blade Runner-esque saxophones and cocktail synthesizers humming in the score. The characters’ features are obscured by pixelation and their technology is distinctly 90s. The mise en scene in Gemini Rue works to make its dark and stormy future surprisingly immersive, especially when you’re playing with headphones on.
Gemini Rue also takes its cinematic storytelling very seriously. You won’t spend much time combining items, solving abstract puzzles, or any other classic point-and-click adventure tropes. Instead, you’ll be opening doors, searching apartments, sneaking past guards, and even getting caught up in some shootouts. As for the story itself, you play as ex-assassin cop Azriel, who’s on the search for his missing brother. Gemini Rue splits the narrative between Azriel and another character as the story of a family, one man’s past, and the war-torn future that humanity inhabits comes into full view. It’s a fairly linear game that moves at a very deliberate pace, pulsing with the rhythm of a film (albeit in the slower, existential science fiction film tradition). The scenes are driven by the game’s desire to tell an interesting story, not to outsmart or test the player.
The problems here lie mostly in the controls. While some of these issues were a problem back in 2011 when Gemini Rue was first released on the PC, they only get magnified on the small screen. The menus and objects you can interact with are far too small, which causes a lot of frustration when playing on the iPhone (as opposed to on the iPad). Furthermore, most object interactions and gunfights feel quite clumsy. It doesn’t ruin the experience, but it would have been nice to see the developer put some of the touch-based gestures or swipes to use.
I’m happy to report that this small indie game does more with science fiction than the majority of big budget films of recent years have been able to do with the genre. In fact, Gemini Rue is still one of the better traditional point-and-click adventure games I’ve played in the past couple of years. While the iOS port is certainly not the definitive version due to the somewhat careless controls, that doesn’t stop this dark graphic adventure from being worth your time.
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Release Date: 03/12/13