Jekyll & Hyde


posted 12/9/2010 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
Platforms: PC
There are a great many missed opportunities in Bitcomposer Games' adventure title, Jekyll & Hyde. The titular duo are the center of this tale, but rather than exploring the horror of losing oneself to the inner, dark and hidden half, this latest take on the classic tale turns the good doctor and his evil id into a puzzle-fighting tag-team. Only very late in the game do we even begin to see Hyde start to assert himself. To make matters worse, both the puzzle elements and the dreadful platforming portions of the game quickly fall into a muddled mess.

Sharing very little with the original Stevenson story, Jekyll & Hyde begins as a plague is ripping through London. Convinced he's found a cure for the terrible disease, Dr. Jekyll drinks the fateful potion which transforms him into the hideous Hyde. After a quick (and un-remembered) bender, Jekyll soon falls down a well and finds himself lost in catacombs deep beneath the city. Most of the rest of the game is spent in these under-city depths, as players try to unlock the mysteries of an ancient, powerful artifact and an evil cult.

The first thing players will note upon firing up Jekyll & Hyde is that the game just doesn't look good. Although the opening story, with its still-life watercolor presentation, is decent, once the actual game begins things take a decided turn for the worse. The background is drab and often repetitive, and it is difficult to discern details as needed. In fact, I spent my first few hours in the game stuck wandering back and forth among the caverns, the entire time missing a passage hidden in the background. While some may find this challenging, I prefer my puzzles to be a little less arduous. Worse than the backgrounds, however, is the animation. Players will spend a lot of time looking at Dr Jekyll/Hyde, and the stilted, outdated rendering is almost painful to watch. Even the opening sequence is disappointing, with Jekyll waving his arms around like a marionette, never moving his mouth to speak.

Walking and running with stiff motion would be almost forgivable, if it weren't for the fact that about half of the game is spent in platforming elements. Finding edges of ledges and platforms is a matter of trial-and-error (and lots of plunging deaths). Controls were also very sluggish, be it the keyboard or mouse interface. Many times I also completely lost my sense of perspective, due to strange interactions with the background, and found myself leaping into nothing when I thought I was easily clearing a jump. Thankfully, the game has many, many respawn points sprinkled about, so only a few seconds are required to once again plummet to an unspeakable death. The actual save points are a lot further apart, however, and with only one save slot several minutes of play can be lost if one needs to exit the game to answer the call of Real Life.

Tied in with the shoddy platforming are equally disappointing puzzles. Things begin promisingly enough, with some fun item-combination puzzles thrown in with a few classic manipulation puzzles. As time went on, however, originality ran out. Toward the end, most of the puzzles were increasingly-complex variations on the mechanical lever puzzler, which I find mildly entertaining in small doses and downright maddening after the fifth iteration. One high point of the game were the mildly clever "boss puzzles" found at chapter ends. These Hyde-centric action puzzles were entertaining, although not enough to make the game a worthwhile experience.

It's difficult to recommend this particular title to anyone, either adventure-game fan or platformer enthusiast. There are just too many shortcomings, and too few highlights, to make this an entertaining experience.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

With repetitive puzzles and truly horrible platforming elements, Jekyll & Hyde fails to deliver on both sides of the coin.

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