Fall of the New Age (Collector's Edition)
Year Published: 2014
Developer: Shaman Games Studio
Fall of the New Age is a game that has some interesting ideas, but also sloppy presentation, mistakes galore, and a story that left me facepalming. Made by Shaman Games Studio one year after their charming little title, Namariel Legends, it's clear they got better at rendering and animating 3D character models, but other things got worse.
I'm not sure of the exact timeline and location of Fall of the New Age, but it appears to be France in the Middle Ages, or possibly slightly after. Superstition has been largely abandoned in favor of science. But poverty is still an issue as your character is a cloaked thief named Marla.
Marla and her kid brother Ray are stealing stuff from a random house one night when Ray is suddenly kidnapped by a group of mysterious "cultists". Marla is thrown in jail, but a d'Artagnan-esque stranger named Herbert helps Marla escape. Herbert wants to take down the cultists, but needs Marla's lockpicking skills and her ability to disguise herself to infiltrate their hangouts. Marla agrees because she wants to rescue her brother.
Herbert saves your ass so you can save his.
The cultists desire to return the world to the Dark Ages. They're into human sacrifice and bombing buildings. Their High Priestess is Morgana from the Arthurian Legend, and for some reason she dresses like a mermaid. They are conspiring to replace the king with Morgana's own son. They say things like, "Soon the darkness of ignorance and superstitions will put out the light of science."
It's no subtlety that this is mocking religion, but before you have strong emotions about that one way or another, I should mention that the two forms of "science" the cultists are raging against are "Astrology" and "Alchemy". D'oh!
The cult blows up an alchemy workshop using bombs probably made with alchemy.
That's the facepalming part. What about the sloppy presentation and mistakes? While I've seen worse translation efforts, sometimes the dialogue falls into territory like this, making little to no sense. HOGs typically have text for attempting an invalid action, but this is the first one I've seen where you sometimes get that text even when you made the right move.
Marla is a bit questionable as a heroine. Along with it not being really clear why she was stealing dinette sets in the beginning, at one point she finds children in cages hanging from trees and laments that she'll have to lower all of them because she cannot tell which one is her brother. So, does that mean that if she could tell, she would only save her brother and leave the other children to be sacrificed?
Feed the kitty that fish!
Spoiler Alert: When Marla does lower the cages, two are random kids, and the third is a sack. But upon opening the third, Ray appears from seemingly nowhere and the game rolls credits. Nevermind that the cult is still out there, planning to overthrow the king, blow up more buildings, and sacrifice more humans.
Now here comes the stupidest part: The Collector's Edition has a bonus chapter where this is all resolved, but it's hidden in the Extras menu! I completed this game once before and had no idea it was there until I saw people on Steam talking about it. But that was over a year ago, so I replayed it from the beginning for this review. When I managed to find the bonus chapter, it began with Herbert confirming that there was only a sack in the final cage, and Ray is located somewhere else. So, what did I just watch, then????
Marla in disguise...with crosses!
The game itself is very, very similar to Shaman Games Studio's Namariel Legends and Kingdom of Aurelia, and their Dreamscapes titles. I've reviewed those first two, if you really need to know what a Shaman Games HOG is like. The only major difference between all those titles and this one is that Fall of the New Age actually has hidden object scenes, though mostly in the form of finding items (listed as silhouettes) that Marla uses to make costumes so she can sneak around undetected. It reminds me of those paper doll playsets I had as a child. It's the most original part of the game, but every costume is only used to pass one particualr obstacle.
As for the puzzles...There were two in a row where you had to move objects from one side to the other and they can't cross paths. And that flower puzzle? It's a disguised Eight Queens Problem. Look it up, the solutions are the same.
Maybe they googled "Morgana" and it brought up The Little Mermaid?
I'm gonna leave on this note: Fall of the New Age has pretty artwork like most of Shaman Games Studio's output. It is funny sometimes, but not always for the right reasons. It's also laggy, especially on the later screens. Namariel Legends was a good start for this company. Fall of the New Age isn't a complete fall, but it is a stumble.