From Paris, With Sarcasm
Whoever said Paris was beautiful doesn’t live in Bjorn Thonen’s arrondissement. Bjorn is a simple guy. Single. White. Male. He’s a slob. He’s broke. A bit dumb. He owns a curiosity store. He has questionable standards for food (see: he eats literally anything he finds on the ground). He’s extremely disgusting (if the food part didn’t indicate that) and is all-around kind of a failure of a person. But you have to hand it to the man - he’s persistent. Which is good, because he’s the star of his own point and click adventure, and one really must be persistent in these kinds of things.
Case in point - when someone came into his house and stole a random tablet from a random statue that he bought from a random dude, he didn’t give up on recovering the item (despite the fact that he didn’t know a thing about its worth). Instead, he made ice cream out of an ice cube and coconut-scented deodorant, raced worms and miniature horses, and assisted in preparing a soup made out of robin’s eggs and rum with a hint of urine. All because...something. Yep, we’re gonna go with that.
That is pretty much the best way to describe this game, this point and click adventure made by CowCat. It’s crude in more ways than one. It’s quirky. It’s unique. It’s humorous in an “I hate everyone and everything” kind of way.
But is it entertaining?
Honestly, this review has taken me two days to write because I completely changed my mind about it within 48 hours. At first, I hated it. The music was completely foreign to me, the storyline appeared pointless, and the art seemed just so-so. I put it away and figured I’d begin writing a review about how much I disliked it; instead, I figured it was the sleep talking and that I needed to give it a better chance the next morning.
As the song goes - what a difference a day makes!
Playing it the second time around showed me how fun the game could be. I guess I started seeing it for what it really was. Part of me wants to think there’s some Psychology term for this, but my best guess is that the game merely needed some time to show what it could offer.
The first thing that impressed me was that I have played the game for about 4 hours now, and I’m roughly 40% through it. Not bad for $9.00 (or Bjorn’s monthly income) and arguably worth the purchase.
Another selling point is how different the storyline is. There’s honestly nothing out of the question in Bjorn’s world, and he could end up anywhere while tracking down the baddies. Want to find your stolen tablet? Be sure to head to the Fun Fair, Beach, and Ice Cream Stand before you do. Because logic. It was that unpredictability that kept me on my toes and interested.
Scratch that. You know what really kept me interested?
Anything could happen to this guy.
A customer wants to trade his gun for something - anything - because he just has to offload it. Bjorn has no money to purchase it, so he offers him his most expensive item in the store. The man is willing to take it, but alas. There’s a piano blocking the stairs that lead to the statue. So the two men move the piano together. Problem solved, right? Oh no, there’s a cat that has wandered into the shop, and it’s blocking the way to the statue. Shoo away the cat, right? *sigh*, it’s not so easy. Backtrack to the apartment, find some scissors, use them to cut some string from a garbage bag, go to the fishing hole where Bjorn’s buddy is, ask him for a fishing pole, fish out a computer mouse, go back to the store, tie the computer mouse and string together, and voila. Cat problems solved. Now Bjorn can trade that 10,000 euro statue for a genuine pisto-heeeeeeeeeeeeey, this gun’s a fake. Seriously?!
How could a gun with “Authentic Gun” printed on it be fake?!
But whatever, you can use this fake gun (along with mop head, fuzzy handcuffs, stolen detective badge, and child’s police uniform) to bluff the random thief into confessing his crimes. Awesome.
That’s what was so fun about the game. It was bizarrely random.
Take the fun fair - I could play a crane game and actually win something for once; crappy prizes, like a stuffed cat head and a cheap memory card, but I won, so wheeeee!
The mini horse races were also amusing. Pay 5 carnie coins to bet on the ponies - you even get to name one! Press space bar repeatedly to make your horse run, but don’t get too carried away or the horse gets it. I learned that the hard way with Chris Brown, but Jonathan Taylor Thomas and I won some serious carnie cash. Hooray for irrelevant 90s teenage heartthrobs!
One really dark and morbid part was collecting all the ways Bjorn can die or be imprisoned. There’s an actual achievement for losing, so if you typically suck at these kinds of games, have no fear because it’s actually oddly rewarding. My first taste of death was putting my fingers in an electrical socket because I’m apparently five years old. There’s also climbing down a hole and starving to death, lighting a box of wine on fire next to a nuclear power plant (which supposedly makes the plant explode in a fiery nuclear holocaust) or even getting abducted by aliens. The possibilities are seemingly endless - gotta...catch ‘em all?
I could go on all day about the story and the humor because there is a lot of both, and if you like that cynical, nasty humor full of annoying characters, sarcastic commentary, and a lot of bodily fluids (of all kinds), you really will enjoy this game.
Of course, there’s more to a game than its storyline - the graphics/art style, for one. At first, it really left much to be desired. I hate critiquing someone else’s art because it’s such a subjective thing to do, but it does appear to be a bit...sloppy. Of course, that really lends to the atmosphere of the game and characters, as they are all slovenly and disgusting, so in a weird way, it ends up being a positive. Yay?
Another interesting aspect was the music. At first, I hated it. It was different. Too different. I chalked it up to the developers being from a country that was not my own and therefore being on a different wavelength than me. But then I gave it some time and realized that the music not only fit the overall feel but was irritatingly toe-tapping. I ended up liking it. I hate it when that happens, but I legitimately do have the music stuck in my head and I’m kind of okay with it.
What is there to say about mechanics? You point. You click. Stuff happens. Nothing new there, but there’s never going to be anything new there (that’s a challenge, game devs. Surprise me).
I still haven’t figured out what Demetrios means. There’s that. Little bit of mystery and intrigue there.
I didn’t want to like this game. I didn’t think I’d like this game. I’m quoted on film as saying that this game is only going to be liked by people that reeeeeeally enjoy this genre. But Demetrios surprised me. I felt knocked off my horse a little bit. Sure, it didn’t add anything new mechanics-wise and it certainly is a bit basic (and there’s just so much vomit in this game, guys. Like, a lot), but it has this really strange charm to it. I feel like...if you enjoy Married with Children, you’ll enjoy this, as it’s basically watching Al Bundy point and click his way through Paris and beyond. Surreal, bizarre, humorous, and entertaining - that’s Demetrios: The BIG Cynical Adventure.