The 1112 saga’s mixture of point-and-click adventuring and dark, mysterious storytelling has both engrossed and confused its legion of loyal fans during its first two episodes.
1112 episode 03 continues the narrative, backed up by the same stunning art design that won the series so many plaudits. Unfortunately, this third instalment doesn't address two of the major concerns raised by its second outing - an absence of features and an unresolved storyline.
Winter is coming
A short vignette attempts to bring new players up to speed by recapping the story to date, but given its brevity, it’s a poor substitute for playing the first two episodes.
1112 episode 3 returns to the setting of the first chapter, Jalonsville, a town located between New York City and Washington, D.C., whose inhabitants are mostly alcoholics, lunatics, or gun-toting rednecks.
The game begins with protagonist Louis Everett finding himself in his best friend John’s toilet completely unable to remember how he got there. Although this may have happened to the best of us after a night out on the tiles, the fact that Louis is unable to remember anything from the last few months makes the 'downed too many Bacardi Breezers' explanation less likely.
It quickly becomes apparent that Louis’s wife, Anna, is missing, and that he must take up the task of finding her.
Point and tap
Thanks to the wintery conditions, the various locations spread across the town are cloaked in a wonderfully haunting layer of snow: the impressive level of detail applied to each area helps to construct an extremely atmospheric setting.
This is reinforced by creepy sound effects and an ambient soundtrack that make you feel genuinely uncomfortable - an impressive feat for the iPhone and its relatively small screen.
In true point-and-click fashion, the story advances through interaction with the items and characters in these environments, with occasional puzzle solving in between. Objectives are revealed through these interactions, and range from speaking to a certain character to breaking into someone’s house.
Holding your finger while moving around the screen reveals the available interactions, while tapping them prompts the type of action possible. Some items can only be investigated, while others can be used or taken for use later on.
Tapping a character presents the opportunity to speak with them. You can then choose from a list of topics to discuss, revealing more about the story and occasionally a new objective.
These interactions really test your investigative prowess, since clues are often vague and difficult to decipher. You will find yourself frequently retracing your steps to see if there’s anything you’ve missed or to use a new combination of items to complete an objective. This process of trial and error would be made less time consuming with a more streamlined inventory system.
If you’ve had any experience of the previous two episodes, you’ll be accustomed to the series’s high level of difficulty. Newcomers, however, may find it off-putting, given it’s very easy to become stuck.
While using your own initiative is what makes these types of adventures so appealing and challenging, the continued absence of a hint system is surprising. If integrated into the game correctly, it could make Louis's meanderings infinitely less frustrating without the risk of dumbing down.
Fans of the franchise will revel in the challenge presented by 1112 episode 03, which benefits greatly from its return to Jalonsville. Its detailed environments, eerie soundtrack, and snappy dialogue fuse to create an atmospheric, mystery-packed adventure that continues the compelling story, even if revelations are at a premium.
Agharta Studio's inability or unwillingness to implement a hint system, though, will prevent many from enjoying its complex ongoing story.