The Feeble Files

1997 Adventure Soft
Designed by Simon Woodroffe
Reviewed 2000 April 4

Rating +2 Linearity narrow, segmented
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity high
Difficulty difficult Relevance strong
Interface 3rd paned menu Real-time occasional

You play citizen Feeble, a lowly government worker in an autocratic galaxy run by the Omnibrain. You get into some minor trouble after an accident while you were recklessly driving your spaceship. This leads you to rebels looking to overthrow Omnicorp and the Omnibrain. In for a penny, in for a pound, you're soon a wanted traitor, helping the rebels after seeing Omnicorps evil, and to save your skin.

For someone who is supposed to be a docile, brainwashed drone, Feeble has a surprising streak of rebellion, right from the very beginning. The other characters are simple send-ups, meant only to be recognisable and to direct Feeble.

Most of the plot is just a travelogue through Omnicorps' dominion, but there is a subtle progression as Feeble slowly realises that the Omnibrain must go. The world is established very well, fleshed out with details and history. It's actually a dark setting, despite the absurdist humour, and in contrast to the cartoony graphics. Sometimes the contrast is grating.

The challenges are mostly inventory based problems. There are some outright puzzles, but they are usually skillfully dropped in, without breaking the reality of the game world. There are several real-time challenges, but none require arcade level skills, and none are fatal.

The challenges match their world in silliness. Many cross the border away from reason, often with Byzantine chains of actions needed to achieve the desired results. Each individual step is usually not too unreasonable, but the cumulative effect leaves reason far behind. Even when the challenges are logical, they are often very difficult.

There are some annoying shortcomings in the interface. You can't zip Feeble over terrain, you have to wait for him to saunter across. The inventory is part of your personal computer interface, and is clumsy to use, requiring excessive clicking and waiting for redraws. Adding to this tedious aspect of the interface is a gameplay that requires lots of running back and forth to accomplish your various tasks. The end result is that the player spends a lot of time and clicking to accomplish relatively little.

Stylistically the game is great. The scenes are well drawn. The characters seem to be prerendered 3D, but they are alien bloby critters so the shortcomings of 3D characters aren't as apparent. The voice acting, led by Robert Llewellyn, is also very good.

There's a lot of game to play and a lot of story to run through before you're done. A combination of the slightly tedious interface and design, with the unreasonable challenges, and with a script that's not quite witty enough to balance its darker aspects, leads to a game that drags along to it's conclusion. Taking a break between chapters might help to keep the game fresh. It's almost a great game, but the little shortcomings all seem to work together against it. There's enough fun and good challenge to make it worthwhile for the hardcore adventurer, but there is too much slow, hard slogging for new or casual adventurers.

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.