Mar 25

Review: 1954 Alcatraz


1954 Alcatraz is the newest point & click title from Deponia‘s developers Daedalic Entertainment which was released early March for the PC. In this interactive point & click crime-adventure game, you control two different characters: the imprisoned Joe and his wife Christine who’s focused on gathering evidence of Joe’s innocence.

At a first glance, 1954 Alcatraz feels and plays like any regular point & click adventure game but by adding two main characters, it has gotten more interesting. There’s the imprisoned Joe, who’s been thrown on the Rock after being found guilty of an armored truck heist and escaping Leavenworth several times and then there’s his brilliant wife, Christine, who will do anything in her power to prove Joe’s innocence. What makes it so different is that you can easily switch between these characters and their locations. If you are playing Christine, you will have access to a city-map which provides time-consuming traveling in the game. Unlocking more locations can be done by collecting clues in the game.

Most point & click games have the typical item inventory, however in 1954 Alcatraz you will be able to see the items of both characters regardless of which character you are currently playing as. Certain items require you to combine them such as the 8ft ropes that you have gathered but there’s a slight hick-up in the counting. When you’ve combined 3 ropes that are 8ft long, your inventory will tell you that you have 16ft of rope. Don’t be alarmed when this happens because the eventual number will be 32ft.

All-in-all, they have done a wonderful characterisation of the typical bad guys and hipsters which truly makes you believe that the 50’s are back. Even hot topics such as homosexuality, being colored and doing drugs weren’t avoided. This makes 1954 Alcatraz a true historic game in my eyes.

Throughout the game, there are a few choices you can make for yourself which can alternate the ending scenes but the ultimate choice is at the end. Will you go through all that trouble, just to leave your man behind? Having no last kiss or possibly having to end his suffering by shooting him? All-in-all I think there are 3 different endings you can encounter but laying them completely out for you would be a spoiler, so you just have to play the game for yourself.

San Francisco at night.

San Francisco at night.

The graphics are simplistic but at the same time they fit the 50’s themed style but if you really want to go for the typical 50’s-graphics there’s an option to turn on 1954-mode which will alter the colors to a sepia-tone.

The items that you have picked up or that you are passing around are not visible in your hands, even when Joe or Christine open or close their hands. You can find plenty of details in the game, referring to these darker times in San Francisco but details like this should’ve gotten more attention. A small detail that I am found of is the menu itself as it is well done and shows you life behind prison bars and it works with every scene!

As the story is about Alcatraz and its in-mates, a few fights are inevitable on the Rock. While I do love the fact that they implemented such scenes as it fits the story perfectly, I felt that these fighting scenes were odd. They were far too slow, making you wait for when you are actually allowed to hit a guy. Of course in a crime story, which is based on Alcatraz, you have to explore the island which you will be able to do once you need to fix several objects across the island. The majority of the scenes often reminded me of movies and TV-shows I have seen from Alcatraz and based on my other research, Daedalic did an excellent job at creating the authentic Alcatraz-island. They even included the curvy down-hill path towards the guard’s housing.

Alcatraz from above.

Alcatraz from above.

The achievements that you can unlock in 1954 Alcatraz are fairly easy to achieve, however there are a few achievements that require specific steps which means that you will need to replay the game. As an achievement hunter, I honestly don’t mind replaying bits and parts to get these achievements but since there are no separate chapters to replay, it can be a hassle. One way to avoid this is using the saves, which you will need to do for yourself since there is no ‘real’ auto-save, and replay from a specific save. The fact that the game has several ending scenes, there could be a great repeatability but the changes are so small and the choices you have to make are scattered across the entire game which means you will need to replay the game at least once or twice while the actual story remains the same so they missed out on the repeatability.

Final Conclusion

1954 Alcatraz is a worthy point & click adventure game that delivered a great crime plot combined with the darker tales of Alcatraz itself, including the shark with the cut of fin that circles around the island and the Ghost of Alcatraz. There are a few hick-ups such as the miscalculation of the ropes and black ‘frames’ in the graphics but there are no random crashes. The voice-acting itself is nicely done and didn’t make me want to turn off the sound. The fact that I was able to play through the entire game, from start to finish, in one single night does make it a short game but I reckon I will be playing it again soon.

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