If you’ve been following me for any period of time, you probably know that I love a good adventure game. Telltale have been great at making good adventure games from licensed material, and basically set the standard for the genre these days. Knee Deep is an adventure game from #WalesInteractive and #PrologueGames, mostly following the Telltale formula, but with a few changes.
First and foremost, while Knee Deep does have an episodic structure taking place in three acts, all acts are available from the get-go.
Additionally, there are no time limits on the dialog choices, meaning you can take as long as you want to review the options and consider potential consequences.
Finally, where most Telltale games have a mix of dialog and QTE action, Knee Deep is mostly dialog, with a limited number of puzzle minigames thrown in. In the roughly two hours of Act 1, I saw two puzzles, meaning the vast majority of the game is dialog, which can tend to drag on a bit.
Where Knee Deep really distinguishes itself — aside from having no time limits in making these decisions — is in the framing of the story. Knee Deep is presented as a stage play, with the characters walking from literal set piece to set piece. This makes for some wonderful transitions, as buildings fold away to reveal the interior action or the entire stage swivels to set a new scene.
Taking the stage setting even further, each act begins from an audience perspective, with the ambient audience chatter fading away as the lights dim. Throughout the game, you’ll also hear gasps from the audience as shocking revelations are made.
There is an additional element that can impact how you are perceived and how you can interact with the other characters; periodically throughout a scene, you’ll be asked to submit a report on your discoveries. You can choose from a variety of topics covering the recent conversations, and select a tone for the report. It can be Cautious, Edgy, or Inflammatory.
People in town will see these reports, and they will change their behaviors depending on how you represent them to the press.
The Plot Thickens
The story unfolds, beginning with the discovery of a body hanging from the tower of Chief’s Roadside Wonderland, a tourist trap from a bygone era, in the Florida swampland. What really happened? Was it suicide, as initially reported? Or was there something more sinister going on?
As the game progresses, we meet the three playable characters, as they each investigate the death of former Hollywood star Tag Kern, now fallen from grace, and the residents and visitors of Chief Roadside’s and the surrounding town of Cypress Knee.
Romana Teague is a blogger for the popular site Fanrage. Jack Bellet is a reporter for the local paper. And K.C. Gaddis is a private eye. We learn that each character has ties to the area, and the mystery deepens.
Aside from the playable characters, there are a whole host of other people in Cypress Knee, and you'll be talking with each of them to uncover the truth. There are the studio execs on-site with Kern, the local motel manager and diner staff, and many more. How is the mysterious Church of We involved? Does it have anything to do with the new land development going up in town?
Intertwined with the investigation narrative, it seems something has gone terribly wrong, as we flash forward a few days. Each of the investigators is in turn being interrogated by police for their role in the unknown tragedy, adding even more mystery to the tale.
Thematically, the game seems to be dealing with the topic of dealing with fall from glory: the washed-up actor, whose recent movie rated a 0% rating on StinkyCabbage.com; the hotshot blogger, now disgraced for accepting bribes; the newspaper journalist, struggling to keep up in a digital age; and the former hero cop turned private investigator, returning to his hometown for a paycheck; even on down to the town of Cypress Knee and Chief’s Roadside Wonderland itself, now just a relic of days gone by.
Without going in to spoilers, I’ve played through Act 1, which leaves off with a pretty big cliffhanger just before the first intermission. I’m excited to see where things go in the final two acts.
Have you played Knee Deep yet? What choices did you make, and how did your story turn out? Comment below!
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Adventure, Mystery
Release date: January 31, 2017 (Playstation 4), February 3, 2017 (Xbox One)
Creator: Prologue Games, Wales Interactive