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Dead Reefs

Score: 78%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: The Adventure Company
Developer: Streko-Graphics Inc.
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Dead Reef's visuals get the job done but don't really do anything to make you stand up and take notice. The locations feel big and appear to have a lot of detail in them, but with the limited amount of interactivity between your character and the world, this openness doesn't really translate into begin able to do a whole lot in the world. Unless you are in "Search Mode" where you go into a first-person view, the characters on the screen appear small and lose some of the details that would have been nice to see.

The game's audio is much like its graphics. They are there, they get the job done, but they aren't anything spectacular. In fact, I couldn't help but notice the somewhat rigid and stiff dialogue that come from many of the NPCs. Your character, Sir Amadey Finvinerro, seems to come through smoothly, but most of the people you interact with just don't sound quite right.


Dead Reefs follows an inspector, Finvinerro, as he attempts to unravel an old mystery that seems to surround the small island that this game is named for. In the past, this island was filled with pirates and thieves. The inhabitants would lure ships to its harbors, take them over and ransack the place, but when a string of very unusual deaths wiped out that population, Dead Reefs was re-populated by more respectable people. Now, decades later, it seems the deaths have started again.

Unlike most games of this nature, Dead Reefs's story doesn't try to take you across the far reaches of the globe. Instead, the game is almost exclusively contained to the island of Dead Reef. Taking place in the 1700's, you will get to see a lot of classic style architecture, settings and outfits. The game does a fairly good job of putting you in the right setting and getting the feel just right.

As murder mysteries with a supernatural twist go, the game's story is pretty nice, but when it comes to the puzzles, there were times when I felt like I could see what I needed to do in two or three steps, but getting past the immediate hurdle was confusing. Granted, this typically meant that I was never left wondering what puzzle I should try to solve next, but the puzzles themselves were a bit of a different story, but more on that in the next section.


Basically, Dead Reef's puzzles had a good bit of challenge to them, but there were times when I would have to solve a problem through brute force methods. When I eventually came across the solution, I felt like there were no significant clues that I should have used to reach the same results. This was very discouraging and those puzzles that didn't have adequate hints just felt out of place or unnecessary and really detracted from the overall flow and feel of the game.

I guess, in the end, Dead Reef's harder and more annoying puzzles didn't outweigh the ones that made more sense. So ultimately the game's difficulty balanced out, but those harder ones really turned me off at times.

Game Mechanics:

The controls are probably the most awkward aspect of Dead Reefs, and while the game allows you to change the control scheme, there is no mouse support and I couldn't find a more effective keyboard layout than the default. Unfortunately, that layout just didn't feel right.

By default, you move your character around with the WASD keys. (W) moves you forward, while (A) and (D) turn you left and right respectively and (S) turns you 180 degrees. With the game's fixed camera, I felt like I was playing a classic survival horror game (as in pre-Resident Evil 4). If you look at the games I've reviewed, you will find very few survival horror games. That's because I really don't like the feel of them. I would have much preferred being able to use my mouse to click on the spot I want to move just like most adventure games.

When you've identified an object you can interact with, you use the arrow keys to perform one of the valid options. Again, this would normally be done with a mouse click. Though I did eventually get used to this aspect of the game, it never quite felt as intuitive as just clicking the object.

I do like the fact that Dead Reefs tries to do something different with their controls, but it doesn't really work out all that well and I would have liked the ability to switch to a more traditional format.

I find it hard to recommend this game to a lot of people. The puzzles are interesting and the story is pretty good, but the lack of mouse-support and the survival horror style movement really took a lot away. If you don't mind those things, then you might want to check it out. If this was a console game, I would say rent it first, but since it's on the PC, I doubt you will be able to do that.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 2000/XP/Vista, AMD 1800+ (1.5 GHz) or Intel 1.8 GHz CPU, 512 MB RAM, 860 MB hard disk space, 16-bit sound card, 4x CD-ROM, nVidia GeForce 5200fx or ATI Radeon 9200 graphics card, DirectX 9.0c

Test System:

Alienware Aurora m9700 Laptop, Windows XP Professional, AMD Turion 64 Mobile 2.41 GHz, 2 GB Ram, Duel NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS 256MB Video Cards, DirectX 9.0c

Sony PlayStation Portable Brave Story: New Traveler Microsoft Xbox 360 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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