Daedalic Entertainment originally released A New Beginning in Europe back in October of 2010, then released it in the United Kingdom in 2011. The game was met with mediocre reviews in both markets. A New Beginning – Final Cut has been released here in the United States through Steam a full two years after its original release, and not much has changed since then. The game still feels unpolished in many areas, with spelling mistakes and bad voice acting abound. The only addition here that makes this version the “Final Cut” is that Daedalic Entertainment added achievements, localization for seven languages, and Mac OS X support. It’s unfortunate that Daedalic Entertainment didn’t take some of the criticism from two years ago and tried to change the game for the better for the US release, because at the heart of it all, A New Beginning is a solid adventure game with great visuals that is just ruined by the dialogue itself and its delivery by the actors.
Gamers are used to playing games that center around an “end of the world” scenario. Usually this scenario comes from large, disgusting aliens with even larger weapons starting some massive galactic war. A New Beginning takes us down this over-tread path differently, by creating this apocalypse through a climate change in the Earth. The story follows two characters, a time traveling radio operator named Faye and a retired, severely depressed scientist from today named Brent Svennson. The catastrophic climate change occurs in the future and destroys the entire planet, almost completely ridding the Earth of human life. The remnants of human culture create a plan to send back people to the past, in order to prevent this climate change from occurring. However, through a miscalculation in their studies, the team is sent first to 2050, to a point in time during the actual destruction of Earth’s climate. Faye, now knowing that 2050 is too late, time travels again to 2010 to meet with Brent Svennson, a scientist that studies algae, to enlist his aid in preventing the 2050 climate change and thus, preventing the future from happening.
The overall story line for A New Beginning starts off as very preachy when it comes to environment issues. Luckily, that tone does not stay throughout the entire game, and what you get in the end is a solid, eco-thriller that centers itself around algae. What completely ruins the story for me in terms of writing is the dialogue. A New Beginning was originally presented in its native German language, so the issues with the dialogue must have been generated in translation. Since I don’t speak nor read German, I must deal with what is presented to me, and this version is just poorly translated. The dialogue feels broken in many parts, with sentences that feel disjointed and the entire dialogue just doesn’t flow very well throughout the game. Spelling errors also helped to knock me out of the story, even faster then the bad translations of the dialogue did. Daedelic Entertainment took two years in bringing A New Beginning to the United States, that was plenty of time to clean up and polish the spelling found in the game, and to make sure the dialogue was translated better than it was. In the end, these issues completely made what good have been a great adventure game, just mediocre and one to forget.
A New Beginning is, at heart, a point and click adventure game that presents a series of puzzles for the player to solve in order to progress the story line. Players will control one of the characters as they move through the world, searching for answers to the current puzzle. Players can point to objects in the world and click on them, to either pick them up, interact with them, or to move your character to that point. Holding down the left button will also bring up an interaction wheel, that will give characters other options when suitable. A New Beginning does nothing to shake this mechanic up or to add anything new that hasn’t been done in hundreds of other point and click adventure games that has come before.
What is satisfying about A New Beginning, is that the puzzles presented during game play are actually logical and, in some cases, skippable if you get stuck. The biggest downfall for me in point and click adventure games is when the designers make their puzzles have illogical solutions that, unless you are lucky or insane you would never think of doing. With A New Beginning, the puzzles presented have logical solutions, ones that make complete sense. The game play and puzzle mechanics of A New Beginning are solid and done well, if not ground breaking.
Visually, A New Beginning is stunning in its presentation. Daedelic Entertainment went with a graphic novel style of presentation, where the cut scenes are created to mimic a comic book. This works like it did in Max Payne all those years ago, but feels out of place here in A New Beginning. The graphic novel style just does not come off as the best choice to present the player with for cut scenes. The in game visuals, however, are fantastic to look at and make up for any downfall in the cut scenes. A New Beginning looks entirely hand drawn and this aesthetic looks fantastic to me. The entire game looks as if you are actually playing in a comic book, with smooth visuals and a cool look.
The sounds of A New Beginning is the biggest source of frustration for me, next to the dialogue, for this game. The music is well done, and helps to increase the dramatic feeling of A New Beginning, where game play restrictions could not. The music helps build up an apocalyptic tension that sets the tone for the entire game. While the voice acting is absolutely dreadful. The actors all sound completely bored with their lines and characters and deliver the dialogue, which is already badly translated, with the enthusiasm of a corpse. The voice acting, coupled with the dialogue, is what truly killed A New Beginning for me.
Daedalic Entertainment took a full two years in bringing A New Beginning to the United States, and in those two years all they added were achievements, Mac OS X support, and localization for seven languages. Those two years could have gone into improving the overall quality of A New Beginning, pushing the game from mediocre up to a great example of a point and click adventure game. The story line, an eco thriller about the end of the world via climate change, is well presented and passed quite nicely, albeit preachy in some areas. The game play mechanics and puzzles are also solid and logical, keeping the game moving along with little or no interruption from players becoming stuck on an impossible puzzle. What keeps A New Beginning mediocre is the lack of aforementioned polish, especially in regards to dialogue and voice acting. The translation from native German to English was poor, with syntax errors and spelling issues in both the written and spoken translations of dialogue. This, coupled with bored voice actors, helps make A New Beginning feel unfinished and almost painful to play. Especially when the translators try to insert terms that are there just for the American audience. I had a hard time making it through the dialogue of Faye and Brent talking about “pimping out” Faye’s plasma gun. Those words had no place in any conversation between a radio operator from the future and an old, retired scientist. If you have played every other point and click adventure game on the market and must play another one, then A New Beginning will entertain you until something better comes along. Otherwise, I would completely avoid this one, and focus on one of the other better games that are currently on the market.