I’ll be honest, my hopes were high for the first point-and-click adventure game from E-One Studio. The trailer hinted at an in-depth game with fun puzzles and a lot of laughs whilst enjoying a dynamic storyline to wrap it all up. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed and let-down. The final product of Hoodwink was a sloppy looking, boring to play title that I could hardly drag myself through to finishing. A title that had the gall to call itself enjoyable.
In a game where you assume the role of Michael Bezzle, a street-wise thief who is trying to ‘acquire’ an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Hoodwink’ setting of the world of Global-01, a dystopian dysfunctional world, you must navigate the bustling metropolis in order to achieve Michael’s goals. That was how it was portrayed, however, the actual fact is that I use the word ‘bustling’ very loosely, as throughout the game probably never saw more than twenty characters at any one time, some of them spouting snappy one-liners.
While Hoodwink has a weak plot that at some moments makes no sense and that isn’t properly explained, it more than makes up for it with the characters and dialogue. Hilarious one-liners from the main character and his acquaintances really flesh out the game, making it bearable to sit through because of the strong dialogue. When you aren’t laughing at the speech, you will be forced to hunt around the area looking for items and clues. This can be very difficult and somewhat boring, as you find yourself doing the same type of thing over and over again.
The point-and-click gameplay style was jarring and unresponsive to begin with, but as time went on it became far more delightful to use – aside from the difficulty ramping up far too quickly. This is topped off by repetitive, mind-numbingly boring tasks that E-One Studio had the gall to call ‘mini-games’. Mini is the right word as thankfully they are very short, but using the word ‘game’ is just an insult. Apart from this there are no other points of interest in the game to make you want to carry on or play again. You can breeze through this in about two hours on a standard difficulty, but there is no real hook to make you want to play again.
Hoodwink is cell-shaded, an idea that starts off very well, but as the game progresses there were many graphical errors as the character animations don’t line up and at one point I found myself grasping thin air instead of an item. This was very disappointing for an otherwise good-looking game on such a low-budget. The backgrounds are well-detailed and use a wide range of eye-catching colours which really livens up the feel of the game.
“If E-One Studios plan on making a sequel, they really need to improve on just about everything to do with this game.”
What did impress me was the music that accompanied the game, while it lasted. The game boasts the work of Leon Willett – winner of Best Music, GameSpy Game of the Year Awards 2006 – a hauntingly funky soundtrack that sounds like it has been plucked straight from an Orson Welles’ The Shadow radio broadcast. But keeping in suit with the rest of the game, there is also a problem with this; the music often cuts out leaving you to play sections of the game in silence. This can ruin the whole experience as Hoodwink is not very strong without a decent soundtrack.
Hoodwink is a game which relies too much on being funny at the cost of plot and enjoyment. With largely unresponsive controls and poor mini-games, it really lets down customers who expected a unique point-and-click adventure. Whilst the game is very well scripted and contains some top-notch music, even if it cuts out mid-game, this is no excuse for poor gameplay and no replay value. If E-One Studios plan on making a sequel, they really need to improve on just about everything to do with this game. I feel sorry for anyone who was Hoodwinked into purchasing this game.