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Lights, Camera, Action! Reviews
Author: David Whyld
Reviewed by Robert Street
"Lights, Camera, Action" is much longer than David Whyld's other Summer competition entry "Regrets". There are a lot of characters, a lot of locations and a lot of puzzles to solve. This is another David Whyld comedy game, so if you have played one before, you know roughly what to expect of the writing and humour. Personally I enjoy these games, but I did find that "Lights, Camera, Action" had some significant weaknesses. This review is based on the competition version of the game, so some of these weaknesses may have been subsequently fixed. “Lights, Camera, Action” is about a director who is trying to film a movie, but there are a lot of disasters on set that prevent his progress.
One of the strongest points of this game is the many distinctive NPCs. They showcase the humour of the game well. The conversation system uses a number-based option approach, but there are enough options usually that this does not seem restrictive. With the game taking place on a movie set, there is a wide variety of places to go, from Mount Doom to Heaven to the Moon. However, as the studios are cheap, none of these places are ever as impressive as they first appear. This is one of the funniest aspects of the game as you examine each location closer and closer to discover what is really there, rather than what is supposed to be.
Another good point is the hint system, with David Whyld deciding to use an alternate hint system to that normally used in ADRIFT. Each time you type "hint" in a location one more hint appears on a list that is relevant to that location. I feel that this is an improvement on the normal system, as the hints produced are better controlled in their release to the player, but there is one weakness in that if you forget a hint and type "hint" again, then you can get a bonus hint that you do not want yet.
The puzzles in this game are difficult, but achievable. In a way, there is a bit too much going on to start off with. All the interweaving plots, locations, characters and random objects that you pick up, can be a little overwhelming and confusing at first, especially if you can't figure out anything to do with most of the objects immediately. I needed a few hints to get going, but once I had narrowed down the objects by a few, I started to make rapid progress in the game. At least until I hit some very bad bugs.
Midway through "Lights, Camera, Action", I thought that I was going to give the game a great review. Unfortunately, mid-game my opinion rapidly headed downhill due to the number of bugs that made it almost unplayable near the end. Maybe other players will not have as many problems and I was unlucky, but I almost abandoned the game in frustration. I don't want to mention every specific bug here, but I will give a few examples.
Firstly I managed to put the game in an unwinnable state. Trying not to give away too many spoilers below. It started off when I took a photo of one character, and a second character appeared automatically. However, I made the mistake of checking a hint later, and showed the photo to second character, so he returned to this location. I then couldn't budge him, as he refused all gifts and no longer wanted to talk to me. Another annoyance that forced me to restore earlier was that I showed some evidence to the policeman, and he asked me to find someone, but I then had no way of telling him that the person was waiting around for the movie. A final annoyance was in the final scene when two versions of Scene 4 played in succession and my inventory was emptied including the item that I needed to complete the game.
There are a few weaknesses in the game design, such as that you have to "wait" after a scene was done. I don't tend to wait around and thought that I had to progress the game somewhere else before the people would move. However, the main issue I had was with the bugs.
Unfortunately this was a game that I was enjoying, but it just went badly wrong. I don't like games where I have to keep restoring to earlier game states as I have fallen prey to a bug. The score below reflects that although parts of the game were good, I felt annoyed during my gameplay, especially at the missed potential.
SCORE - 6/10
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