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Adventures of Max Fax

Adventures of Max Fax


    The title screen.The title screen.
Developer: Alexander Kucherenko
Released: 2013.05.06
Genre: Comedy / Mystery
Graphics: Cartoon / 2D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click










Living in a flat complex (or an apartment building) can be tough. Not only there are some mundane problems like a friend's relationship problems, but something more mysterious and nefarious seems to be afoot in one of the other flats as well. Whether every flat complex in Russia is like that, can only be guessed, but at least this one is, and the protagonist Max has to forget entertaining himself with his favourite hobby and take care of all those other things in this Russian adventure game.

The game is a bit generic cartoon-style graphics-wise, one could make a guess about the game being a point-and-click comedy just by looking at a random screenshot. The graphics works well for the purpose, but isn't anything special. What seems a bit odd is that every flat that can be entered in the game seems to have exactly same furniture in exactly same places! It gets the job done, but the generic style and copy-paste use of graphics really doesn't enhance immersion.

Playing the game consists of running around the building and trying to get whatever is needed done. There is a computer in Max's room, where current objectives can be checked. Why those objectives can't be checked using the mobile phone in the inventory is a strange design choice that doesn't seem to make much sense, fortunately there aren't any overly complicated objectives or puzzles in the game. Most puzzles are very easy actually, the challenge is more in trying to find out what needs to be done next, and where.

The protagonist Max checking messages (aka. objectives).The protagonist Max checking messages (aka. objectives).

Unfortunately many of the puzzles in the game, although relatively logical, are very random. Much of the game consists of running around the building trying to find some place to interact with to trigger an event that takes the very thin story forward. To give an example: in order to change daytime to nighttime a specific location needs to be visited, which doesn't feel very natural, but that's how the game is structured.

With the building having 15 floors, and every floor having four flats, this could mean a lot of random running around. Be it a good thing or not, only very few flats can actually be accessed. And there are several ways to go around, stairs, lifts for fast access, and fire escape outside, all of them must be used for some purpose, but fortunately for random floor checking the lifts work in a very fast and userfriendly way.

Speaking of stairs, they are actually called ladder! As already described, this is a Russian game, and Russian language is one of the available languages. Other languages are English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian. Overall English in the game is quite good, but some single words or item names are a bit off, nothing that would dramatically disturb the player, but things that will stick out here and there. There is no voice acting, so the problem, if it really is such, is only with on-screen texts.

Solving mysteries.Solving mysteries.

The genre being comedy, there are some attempts of humour in the game. More than one things are actually approaching the line of bad taste, at least to most sensitive people, but never really crossing over. There are slightly amusing bits here and there, but nothing is really comedy gold. The funniest, and most surprising, moments are related to a joke that opens the game, and comes as a reprise with a twist later on. The joke in question actually quite cleverly plays with the expectation factor that the player has towards the narrative. Not to spoil the joke, let's just say that it involves zippers.

One big problem with both the jokes and thin narrative is that the story in the game isn't really properly told. There are practically speaking no real conversations that the protagonist is a part of, none where the player is an active party anyway, and eavesdropping on other people is a bit confusing. It all needs to be done, but only about half of the conversations further the bigger plot, if there actually is such in the game.

It doesn't take much time to complete the game. The most time-consuming things in the game are trying to find the right places to interact with next, and of course returning to the 13th floor again and again. That's where Max's flat is, and that's the only place to (re)check objectives if they are unclear, and that's also the only place where the player can go from inside the building to the fire escape. Some of that running around feels unnecessary, and could have been replaced with some amusing interactions with neighbours in the building.

As a nice, small distraction from something else the game serves it purpose relatively well, but presumably nobody has this in a top place either in the backlog or the list of completed adventures. There is undeniable potential here, and some things actually refer to this as episode 1, like the game window title bar, so with some additional material and better structuring this could be quite good. Apart from few clumsy design choices and translation errors it's hard to find anything really wrong with the game. But in order to be a really good comedy adventure, it would need to improve on both comedic and adventuring aspects of the game. Hopefully there will be something to follow some day, as such an every day thing as living in a flat complex (or an apartment building) can provide so much material to work with, but is so rarely covered in games.



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