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    The Descendant: the review in hindsight

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    Who I am
    Philippe Gloaguen
    @philippegloaguen

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    The Descendant is an episodic, linear and rather short graphic adventure: it takes a maximum of six hours to complete. The first feature to point out is that if the longevity of each chapter is increasingly restricted, the same cannot be said of its quality. The Descendant seems to betray the tradition imposed by other exponents of the genre that push the player to buy the whole season after having tasted a couple of episodes. Arrived at the end credits, in fact, I immediately thought of the inversely proportional relationship between the time spent on each section and its ability to excite me. With this premise, I invite you not to take into consideration the media offered by Metacritic, on which very few reviews have been uploaded, but to reflect on this question: what do you want, today, from a graphic adventure?



    My answer is unique: few hotspots, a captivating mystery, puzzles that don't need a guide written by other players, nice graphics, mature dialogue, no digressions or backtracking. Here, The Descendant can boast all these characteristics while not excelling in any. In reality, the last two episodes are played out of breath or interruptions, driven by the desire to find out what lies behind the failure to reactivate the Ark-01.

    I hate offering insights that can ruin your experience

    The opening words are simple: a nuclear conflict decimated the world population but the United States of America, in the months before the war, built about fifty shelters in which to hibernate a small percentage of inhabitants - rigorously selected - who would have seen the dawn of the new world after centuries of cryogenic sleep. Explaining the selection process, the maintenance and management methods of these "arks" or why two survivors, hundreds of years after the fallout, went to Alaska to reactivate the only dormant site would be tantamount to spoiling the whole warp. narrative. You already know (or should) that I hate offering insights that can ruin the experience offered by a title, so I suggest you go to Steam and download the first episode for free, bearing in mind that it is the least inspired one.



    The beauty comes with Episode 3, which is when you start to understand that the Ark-01 problem is not just a technical one; when the events of the four protagonists begin to bind, influencing each other, in a succession of events spanning the centuries from the launch of the first bombs to the end of the nuclear winter. Anyone expecting to see the reconstruction of an open world will be hopelessly disappointed: everything (almost) happens underground, in the bunker that acts as a theater to history. I repeat: is a short but no-nonsense video game, without stupid dialogues, without absurd or incoherent puzzles. Everything goes smoothly until the final bars.

    is a short but no-nonsense video game

    Technically The Descendant does not make a miracle cry while remaining pleasant to watch, although several bugs and glitches were reported at the time of publication (2016). With the various updates everything has settled down and that cel-shading used to paint the faces of the player characters still has a great "why". There are few puzzles, a retractable inventory with at most two items to keep at the same time and a few moral crossroads which must be entered with a tiny temporal margin. These are bifurcations that only partially define the concatenation of events, as in the spirit of modern graphic adventures. Everything translates into the possibility of choosing different approaches in the presence of a "problem" to be solved, but what is told by the Gaming Corps guys has its own predetermined head and tail.

    The descendant it is however a production without big means behind it and you can see it in the details of the various settings, often far from the chiselling of the triple A. It does not matter, in reality, since the gameplay is never engraved on irrelevant elements and the attention is captured by the pressing evolution of events. There are some flaws that could make the refined ones turn up their noses, such as the inconclusiveness of pixel hunting or the non-existent level of difficulty ... and there would be nothing strange to point this out insistently: this is a hit and run graphic adventure, light years away from the masterpieces that made the genre great (even the most recent ones). On its side it has the great advantage of being cheap, being immediate and curious, especially in the final stages where there are cliffhangers capable of keeping the player glued to the screen.



    USEFUL INFO

    I played The Descendant on my trusted Ryzen 5 1600, with 16GB of RAM, SSD, and Nvidia's unrivaled 1050ti. I bought The Descendant for pennies on the Humble Bundle store and I haven't regretted it.

    Duration
    • Five hours to go quietly; six hours if you can't solve those few puzzles present.
    Structure
    • It's the classic point-and-click graphic adventure in a three-dimensional environment, with no backtracking or inventory.
    Game Card
    • Game Name: The descendant
    • Release date: March 24 2016
    • Platforms: PC
    • Dubbing language: English
    • Texts language: Italian

    I have to make a special mention of the English dubbing, because I never expected to hear the voices of professional actors in such a small production. It may also be for this reason that The Descendant's story attracted my attention. Yes why the greatest compliment that can be paid to this game is precisely that of being able to weave a narrative that goes from the general (the nuclear fallout) to the particular (the selfishness of the individual) without making any moral or proposing alternative or virtuous ethics. So I close my short review by advising you to wait for the next sales or some bundle that contains it, buy it and try to play it in two or three days, then come back here to compare us: maybe only I liked it!

    This gallery helps support scientific research on Rett syndrome. Find the details of the initiative at this link.

    Review by Roberto Turrini
    Graphics

    Cel-shading for the characters, three-dimensional environments, nothing striking but not even unacceptable distortions. It does the of him, with some twitches in the last two episodes. It has been seen better, of course ...



    70
    SOUNDTRACK AND DOUBLE ROOM

    The English dubbing is really excellent: it seems that of a triple A production. The background music, on the other hand, is very forgettable.

    85
    GAMEPLAY

    The Descendant is a simple game that requires no special skills other than a little sense of direction and average intelligence. Its great merit is to tell a beautiful story, asking to live it in first person but avoiding the mechanics of walking simulators.

    75
    Total Rating scale
    75
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