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Jane Jensen's Moebius
Hands-On Preview
"The puzzle gameplay is clever, and thus far, seems to follow a very clearly identified kind of logic."

Shortly after this year's E3, I got a chance to try out the latest adventure game written, designed, and directed by Jane Jensen, the mind behind King's Quest VI, Gabriel Knight, and more recently, Gray Matter. The game's music is being handled by Jensen's longtime collaborator, Robert Holmes, and development duties by Phoenix Online Studios (of Cognition and The Silver Lining fame) and Pinkerton Road.

Moebius' core gameplay will be immediately familiar to anyone with experience in the point-and-click genre. The game plops you into the rather classy shoes of Malachi Rector, a genius-level appraiser of rare antiquities with a penchant for running his mouth and trotting the globe. A prequel comic (much like that that accompanied the original Gabriel Knight back in the day) serves as an introduction to Malachi — that is, it showcases the aforementioned proclivities for appraising, globetrotting, and mouth-running, and the subsequent face-pounding that lands him in the hospital prior to the start of the game.

As the game begins, Malachi finds himself heading off to Italy to appraise not a rare piece of artwork, but rather the murder of a young woman. Curiously, his specific task is to assess the circumstances of the life and death of this woman and determine if there is any correlation with the life of a famous figure from throughout history.

So far, the plot definitely smacks of a Jensen-penned narrative, and I mean that in the best way possible. There are mysteries aplenty, and all of the characters are fascinating and well-voiced. Rector himself is highly entertaining, given his complete willingness to say whatever's on his mind, no matter the the circumstances. Equally important for a game in this genre, the puzzle gameplay is clever, and thus far, seems to follow a very clearly identified kind of logic.

As with some of the other titles mentioned above, many of the conundrums can be resolved by means of clever item usage and combination. However, given that Rector is possessed of extraordinary deductive skills and photographic memory, many of the puzzles also center around using Data Analysis, a system in which the player must correctly identify and sort out situations based on a variety of facts, such as determining what famous artist a man is most similar to based on a close reading of his biography. Analysis also comes into play in other circumstances such as a close examination of an organization's logo to determine the nature of its activities or a careful consideration of a person's physical quirks and gait to learn more about their personality.

It's still a bit early to call it — and certainly, there are rough edges here and there — but Moebius seems like it's off to a good start. It hits all the right notes for a fan of Jensen's previous work, and with plenty of time to spare before its late 2013 or early 2014 launch, there should be ample opportunity for the team to get the game polished up and ready to go. This is one game I'll definitely be keeping a close eye on as we move closer to release.


© 2013 Pinkerton Road Studio, Pinkerton Road Studio, Phoenix Online Studios. All rights reserved.




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