Daedalic is known for its attention to detail. Every major project that bears the Deadalic emblem guarantees the quality and the success of the whole endeavor . Especially when it’s about a game based on the famous Alcatraz prison, which , until this day, captivates us with its stories. But like the saying goes “The road to failure is full with great expectations” and in this case seems to be a fitting one.
Our story begins in 1954 inside the famous Alcatraz prison, where Joe, one of our protagonists serves his sentence for a robbery when his accomplices are yet to be arrested. Joe is under a lot of pressure to reveal where he hid the loot and the same time his wife’s patience is running out. Under the light of these recent events Joe decides to escape. Outside his wife Christine, disappointed and tragically poor is trying to figure what happened the day of the heist and help her husband escape at the same time. This of course much more complicated than that and nothing is more dangerous than a woman disappointed, hurt and determined to succeed her goals.
Our story is set in the year of 1954, the same time when the beatnik movement were on its heyday with authors such as William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. The game attempts to present the carefree lifestyle of beatniks and their blurred sexual boundaries and some of the riddles are based on that. But this approach, eventually shifted the focus of the main adventure, leaving many thing unanswered. During my playthrough I thought that many of the questions will be answered in the finale, but this never happened. The attempt to render a beautiful history background, took its toll in the history’s foreground.
The graphics are a baffled ordeal. Don’t get me wrong but Daedalic spoiled us, and when you have such beautiful background images, the characters have to be in par with this analogy. The 3D technology with 2D backgrounds is tricky and seems that the game fell short on that. The characters are not so detailed and it had nothing to do with the actual models, but more so with the fact that they were not so beautiful. Especially when in your backcatalog are games like Chains Of Satinav and Memoria, I can’t cut any slack to the designing team.
In terms of action, there’s all the things that a traditional point’n’click adventure has, But there’s no lack of those moments when the player is confused, not because of difficulty but because of bad adaptation of dialogues into the action. Some riddles give the impression of laziness (the riddle with the safe and the combination) but even when you have all the required items, if you won’t trigger the dialogue, nothing will happen. Most of the riddles are inventory based and the lack of puzzles though there was the foundation to built on, will not disappoint the average player but will annoy the player who wanted something more. On the plus side, the multiple game endings which can be triggered depending on the choices the player makes. The worst thing was the lack of twists in the story. Everything happens exactly as it presents. Thanks for the confirmation but I would prefer something different.
On the other hand, the music is very good and sets the mood right. Personally I would prefer more dynamic score, especially in the climax towards the end of the story. Without this score, the game’s ambiance would have been significantly worse.
Concluding, 1954 left me mixed feelings and a feeling that something was missing in order to be as good as the other titles from Daedalic. It may be that the main theme is the escape from Alcatraz, but the game itself couldn’t escape the mediocrity and achieve the high standards that bears every product of the company.