A mysterious explosion occurred in 1908, in the Tunguska region of Siberia. This explosion, more powerful then the bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of the Second World War, has been shrouded in mystery, with most of the witnesses killed by the blast. So what caused this tremendous explosion? Was it a meteorite? Alien crash landing? Scientific experiment gone wrong? This is the basic plotline of The Adventure Company's latest release, Secret Files: Tunguska. For most of the game, you control Nina as she tries to figure out who kidnapped her father and what connection it has to the mysterious explosion above the Siberian countryside in 1908.
As with any point-and-click adventure game, the emphasis is on the puzzles, using items with other items, in order to progress. And almost always, the biggest problems with puzzles like these are finding the damn items you can use. Often they're small and hard to spot, and half the trouble is just finding them mixed in with the background. Not in this game.
See, there's a little button you can press that allows you to 'search the area'. Immediately, anything that you can interact with or look at is highlighted with a magnifying glass for a few seconds, completely eliminating the need to drag the mouse over the screen as with many other adventure titles. I can't believe this hasn't been implemented before. It moves the focus away from finding the items (and wondering if you've even got enough to progress) to solving the puzzles themselves.
As for the puzzles, I never cease to be amazed by what kinds of things you have to do in these adventure releases. No sooner am I half an hour into gameplay do I realize that my inventory consists of a complete pile of junk like a rubber glove, bike pump, a spoke, and some other assortment of trash (literally, I searched through a garbage bin). Oh, and a cell phone. Surprisingly, the puzzles are mostly logical, though often it involves turning what could've been a simple problem into something that requires combining three pieces of trash you've managed to pick up along the way and giving it to a little girl for a useless photograph. Everything takes a series of puzzles and odd combinations of items to solve, even if it's something as simple as fixing a bicycle tire.
The plot is promising, involving a geographical mystery nearly a century old, but tends to fall short. The biggest problem is that, instead of focusing on the event itself, it involves an unseen villain that is seemingly random and doesn't really have anything to do with the plot as a whole.
The acting itself is pretty poor, though. An awkward script, clumsy voice acting, and odd translation errors make some of the conversations feel a little irritating to listen to. The ambient sounds and sound effects are quite good, though, drawing you into the locations, and the cinematics are pretty good quality as well.
All in all, Secret Files does a lot better than its predecessors. The ability to search your surroundings is a much-needed feature in the genre, and makes the game, and the genre as a whole, a lot more enjoyable when you don't have to continually search every pixel on the screen. This game fails to do anything really great, but is a decent adventure release overall.