Point and click adventures are like unpaid tax demands; years go by without any and then three come along all at once. So after my recent reviews of Evil Under the Sun and Sam and Max I wasn’t thrilled about having a third long adventure to play through but let’s find out if my apprehension was justified or not in my review of Ceville for PC.
Ceville is a mouse driven point and click adventure set in a fairytale land called Faeryanis. You take control of a rather short dictator named Ceville who is a bit reminiscent of Lord Farquar from the movie Shrek (but much nastier). It just so happens that your evil assistant Basilius has coaxed the citizens of Faeryanis to revolt against you and your Napoleonic rule so that he can become King. There is no choice but to escape to safety before the baying mob throw Ceville into jail, or worse tear him apart limb from limb. But there’s a snag. Just before Ceville manages to escape via a secret tunnel in the castle dungeon, fearless hero Ambrosius ends up capturing him accidently after falling down a nearby watering well. Having been a diehard Monkey Island fan when I was a kid there’s no way I could resist a storyline like this so let’s delve into our review of Ceville for PC and see how it actually plays. Well really well is the short answer. The long answer is that Ceville instantly captures your attention with its bright colours, gorgeously created 3D world and catchy background music. From the very first scene the humorous voice acting stands out making your ears pricks up inviting you to listen closer. As with nearly all other point and click games Ceville is all about scouring the environment looking for items to pick up, puzzles to solve, objects to interact with and people to talk to. More often than not though you’ll find it’s a healthy mixture of all four at once to tax your brain. Don’t go thinking it’s all a solo effort, shortly after Ceville is captured you encounter a young girl named Lilly who decides to help you out on your quest. There are many puzzles that require the cooperation of Ceville and Lilly to complete so it’s not a surprise to say that for most of the game you’ll be controlling them both. At certain moment’s they’ll separate so that you can use the skills of both individually; a perfect example of this is a scene where Lilly must direct a dancer towards a trapdoor using a spotlight, Ceville is waiting in the wings to pull the lever to open the trapdoor and make her fall through on her behind.
Faeryanis itself is a huge place with many areas for Ceville to explore such as an Elven Forrest, the Dwarf Mountains and even a Spooky Graveyard amongst other interesting locations each with their own new characters to talk to, or in Ceville’s case; be sarcastic to. Every area is very nicely presented with lots of background detail and you’ll need to visit most locations more than once to complete every puzzle they hold. When you get stuck you’ll no doubt be looking around each area trying to see what or who you’ve missed, this can get a little frustrating at times and makes you want to search on the internet for a tip or two (yes I admit it I had to get help once or twice myself). However this isn’t unique to Ceville as it’s actually a trademark of all PAC adventure games and will likely be that way for many years to come. If you don’t like frustrating moments of wondering what the hell you should be doing then Ceville isn’t for you. However if you can cope with the hair tearing moments then Ceville and it’s huge colourful world full of entertaining characters will put a smile on your face for at least 20 hours (maybe more), I wouldn’t say there is much replay value but at least without any hideous DRM restrictions (yes EA I’m looking at you) it means you can pass the game to a friend when you’re finished with it and let someone else enjoy the wonder of Ceville.
Before I sum up I should mention that my initial experience with Ceville was clouded by some technical issues with conflicting audio and random lock ups; however a trip to the official Ceville website saw me come away with a fresh patch which fixed all of the issues and thankfully allowed me to continue playing. If you purchase Ceville on disc then I recommend downloading and installing the patch before you play, Steam users should have the patch installed automatically as usual. What impresses me most Ceville is the quality of the script and the voice acting itself; Ceville really does buck the trend of many a game where a character’s voice sounds totally out of place and not how you think they should sound. I laughed my socks off whilst after hearing references to Half Life, kids cartoon He-Man, online role playing game Runescape and even a bitter tirade against search engine Google. Finally we have a game that rivals the observational comedy of TV shows like The Simpsons or Family Guy. Ceville’s graphics are very impressive, lovingly created down to the finest pretty detail with superb animation (well maybe not the lip-syncing) and plenty of variation. Ceville is without doubt the best looking point and click adventure game I’ve ever seen and because it’s not an action game needing to display hundreds of enemies at once, it should look fine on older PC’s too. Yes you’ll get stuck and tear your hair out but I can’t not award Ceville a stunning 8 out of 10 because it’s absolutely terrific.
Related: Evil Under the Sun, Sam and Max