Perils of Man is a four chapter, episodic, 3D, point and click adventure by indie newcomer, If Games. The first chapter was released for iPad on March 11th, 2014, and for adventure game enthusiasts, take note that yes, the first chapter is free.
More significantly, game designers Bill Tiller (LucasArts alum) and Gene Mocsy boast an impressive resume of work including The Curse of Monkey Island and A Vampyre Story. Their involvement immediately sets Perils of Man apart from other first releases.
However, the question of the moment is whether this first chapter of Perils of Man is worth checking out. The answer – definitely. The quality of production is clearly evident from the opening moments, and one can’t help but soak in the game’s lovely environment modelling, the well-crafted user interface, and a haunting score that does a great job in creating an air of mystery to what is a very complex and original backstory.
Perils of Man revolves around Swedish teenager Ana Eberling and a mysteries invention by her great, great, great grandfather Thomas Eberling. It is known from the game trailer and description that the invention was a very special set of glasses that convey to the wearer the risk of any situation viewed. The possibility of possessing a device that has the ability to remove all uncertainty in life is a fantastic concept that can’t be understated. Imagine a bookie with such a device, or a stock picker, or perhaps one of the residents of the doomed ancient Roman city of Pompeii.
Unfortunately for the women of the Eberling family, the invention has apparently corresponded with the mysteries disappearance of many of the male Eberlings. It is up to Ana to solve the mystery behind her father’s disappearance in particular, as she is thrown from her secluded existence in the family mansion into a “hidden world of time-travel, global catastrophe, and personal triumph.”
The first chapter of Perils of Man provides the first glimpses to what promises to be a very complex tale, and the story begins as Ana sets off to explore the family mansion, a lonely and melancholy affair as Ana’s only companion is her somewhat eccentric and unstable mother.
Perils of Man Gameplay Trailer
The puzzles in the first chapter are relatively straight-forward and logical, and even a novice adventure game enthusiast should have no trouble getting through them. The puzzles represent a nice progression of sequences that draw the player into the backstory. Somewhat unfortunate, none of the puzzles in the first chapter deal specifically with the notion of risk or uncertainty that might have been expected. It would have been nice to see something of this aspect in the first chapter, rather than what many will consider “standard fare” for adventure game puzzles.
Each Episode is expected to take 2-3 hours, but getting through the first chapter took just under an hour, which makes this episode somewhat on the short side. Those that don’t feel the need to examine every nook and cranny will likely be able to finish relatively faster.
However, the gameplay is nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable. The inventory system is very well designed, and exploring the richly detailed doll-house environments, and being drawn into the somewhat nutty family history of the Eberlings and their secret invention will certainly leave you wanting more.
The choice for voice actors were well made, and Ana's mother in particular did a superb job. The game can also be played in German with English subtitles.
The musical score and sound effects are well integrated into the overall game, and as mentioned above, do a great job in conveying a sense of mystery and melancholy.
From the moment I saw Bill Tiller’s involvement with Perils of Man I knew this was a game I had to play. The premise of the story is refreshingly original and my only real criticism with chapter 1, was a sense that I only got the beginning nibbles of what’s to come. Of course, that very well may be what the folks at If Games intended, but nonetheless I certainly would have liked to have seen a bit more gameplay, and feel this would have significantly enhanced Perils of Man’s ability to draw people in.
The full game promises to be a philosophical examination of the notion of risk and uncertainty, something that deeply touches each and every one of us. Whether or not If Games can deliver such an examination within the framework of a point and click adventure remains to be seen, but the first chapter does a great job in whetting one’s appetite. The second episode is due for release before the end of the year.
Perils of Man was sponsored by insurance giant Swiss Re in celebration of its 150th anniversary. However, the fact the game was sponsored by what may be considered a corporate behemoth shouldn't dissuade gamers. Swiss Re's goal was to spark a conversation through the medium of gameplay, something that If Games touts as its mission. At no time during Perils of Man does one feel they are within the confines of a corporate pitch.
Overall Grade: A
(*see note below)
+ Original and intriguing story revolving around risk and uncertainty
+ Well-crafted all around
- Too short
* The original grade of B+ assumed Chapter 1 was 25% of the game. It is actually just 10% of the game.