Adventure Awaits: A Review Of Gemini Rue (iOS)

AAA - 1If an award-winning, critically-acclaimed video game from two years ago gets re-released on a different platform, you should already know most of what you need to about the game. In this case, it’s Joshua Nuernberger’s Gemini Rue, and in this case, you should already know it’s stellar.

Now, Gemini Rue and its time-tested adventure game mechanics have been ported to iOS. While a game as good as Gemini Rue is likely to shine anywhere, if there’s one place it could all go to Hell, it’s a capacitive touch interface.

A war has taken place in the Gemini System, and you begin the game as an ex-assassin named Azriel Odin who is searching for information about his lost brother on the planet Barracus. After meeting a crew of miscreants and beginning your investigation, the viewpoint of the game shifts, and you’re then placed in the shoes of a character named Delta-Six, who is holed up in some sort of medical facility with apparent memory loss.

The stories of these two characters interweave throughout the game, and while giving too much away in a review wouldn’t be fair to those wishing to experience the game, the crisscrossing never seems forced. The plot is genuinely well-served by this storytelling technique, and the timing alone of the perspective shifts adds suspense to the narrative.

The intrigue you experience as a player will give you pause, and that pause – that little hint of, “Hey, what’s going on here?” – is the hook; it’s what gives this game its teeth.

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Thankfully, the iOS version of Gemini Rue doesn’t pull those teeth, and handles the move to a touch interface with great aplomb.  Perhaps the greatest achievement is the highlighting mechanic. Slowly running your finger across the screen will highlight all of the objects (or people) that you can interact with, which virtually eliminates the “pixel hunting” so common to adventure titles.

A great deal of information is conveyed to the player through computer terminals found in the world, and you will interact with them using drag-and-drop phrases or your phone’s keyboard. And locomotion isn’t a slide motion, it’s a simple tap. While these aren’t as innovative as the aforementioned highlighting mechanic, they’re still deliberate design decisions that make the game as enjoyable as possible given the interface.

The one major problem with the original version – a shooting portion – persists, though. It’s not made any better by the touch interface, but it’s not made any worse, either. It just feels superfluous.

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It’s easy to forgive that small flaw, because you won’t find many better stories in the app store than Gemini Rue. It’s engaging and interesting science fiction, serviced in this case by a thoughtful adaptation to mobile devices; the experience isn’t hindered by not having a keyboard and mouse at your disposal. Hopefully, Nuernberger’s game will reach infinitely more people this way, and we can eagerly await his next forward-thinking adventure title.

 

Pixels or Death gives Gemini Rue (iOS) a 4.5 out of 5