Chewy: Esc from F5

1995 Carsten Wieland, New Generation Software
Designed by Carsten Wieland
Reviewed 2007 November 17

Rating +0 Linearity narrow, segmented
Reasonability reasonable Connectivity high
Difficulty pedestrian Relevance strong
Interface 3rd paned menu Real-time minor

Chewy and his buddy Clint make try to steal some important thingamabob from a base of the evil Borx, scourge of the galaxy. While escaping with the goods, Clint falls through a wormhole to Earth, and Chewy is captured. You play Chewy. You must escape the Borx facility F5, then find Clint.

The goal of the story is only comedy, without any deeper commentary (such as in The Feeble Files). It didn't quite hit my funny-bone. The visual design was suited to humour, and the scenario was good, but it missed on the dialogue, on the little things that yank a chuckle out of you. I suspect that some of this is due to loss in translation (from original German): no puns or twisted phrases to surprise me. It wasn't completely dead, but I found it cute rather than funny. Stinky farts and bouncing boobies just aren't enough for me.

The challenges are well integrated into the story. You have a substantial inventory, and some objects will be used several times for various purposes, yet I never felt a need to use a different object than that intended for a challenge. The challenges are mostly use this with that, and you can combine items in your inventory to create new ones. While this increases the the field of what you can try, I never had any serious trouble figuring out what had to be done. Things work as they are advertised, as you would expect them to work. While this tended to make the challenges easy, they were kept just difficult enough to require you to pay attention to the story, to the described properties of the objects, characters, and the problems being faced.

An example of the good balance between story, challenge, and difficulty is the maze in the game. It's well integrated, since you're supposed to be trekking through a jungle, yet it's not tedious, having only four or five locations. Each location has a distinguishing trait. The result is that you get the feel of a wild jungle, but it's easy to map and it's small enough to avoid tedium.

You can't die in the game (well, maybe if you try really hard, but I couldn't). There are two or three real-time bits, but they just cycle back until you get it, and are very easy once you know what to do.

The graphic design is well done, on a par with a good Saturday cartoon. The interface was easy to use. I got stalled a few times because I failed to pick something up or see a hot-spot, but those things were all prominently displayed in hindsight.

The dialogue was sometimes wildly out of sync with the animation (or vice versa). The animation would show characters talking, but there was no dialogue, neither in speech nor subtitle, and well beyond what is attributable to translation differences. Also, the continuity of some of the animations seemed out of place, leaving me wondering if I missed something or did something out of order. Neither seemed to effect the story, and certainly didn't effect the challenges.

There are a few minor issues with the interface. There are only 19 save slots. You can turn on subtitles or speech, but not both. I found no way to turn on subtitles for the intro.

I was unimpressed with the voice acting. It isn't terrible, but it is several notches below the quality of the rest of the game. Chewy himself was okay, but there were too few voices for too many characters, and one or two of those voices were on the wooden side. This is another reason to seek out the German version if you understand it.

Chewy is very well designed, in visuals, interface, and challenges. The challenges are too simple to be entertaining on their own. Their seamless integration with the story, however, is a good demonstration of what an adventure game should be. The humour and difficulty level are suitable to to post-primary-grade children (although the dynamism of certain thoracic prominences might give some parents pause). If the humour matches you, you'll love it; if not, it's still a decent game.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.
David Tanguay's Game Reviews
Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.