Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster

1995 Amazing Media
Designed by Phil Mikkelson, Norm Badillo, Keith Metger; Paul Taylor, Ian Brown
Reviewed 2001 February 2

Rating -3 Linearity narrow
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity moderate
Difficulty pedestrian Relevance strong
Interface 1st paned simple Real-time minor

Dr. Frankenstein is doing his thing, and you are it: a convicted and executed child murderer brought back to life. You're not really evil, though, and all you really want is to escape the doctor's castle. While rummaging about, you'll find out about some nefarious goings-on at the castle. After some initial confusion, you'll remember who you are, and learn the true story of the events that led to your death.

Your character is given a good background, a family, and a tragedy to be remedied, but the actual character is not really given much subtlety. You're disgusted at Frankenstein's work, but no justification is given, and you're ultimately willing to use his technology. Frankenstein himself is nothing more than the standard mad scientist.

The real story interest comes from the conspiracy of the missing children, which got you executed. Unfortunately, the gameplay has little to do with that -- you just uncover notes that flesh it out.

Most of the game is spent wandering about the huge castle, just going from place to place. It's falling down, so many of the normal routes are impassable. In other words, you're constantly running around a big maze.

There are few real challenges. The bulk of progress is a simple matter of going to the right place to trigger a cut-scene. Since there are no short-cuts about the castle, and little rationale to where you must go to trigger the next plot advancement, you spend most of your time just going from place to place, hoping to trip across the magic trigger. To further slow things down, doors are at one point locked, forcing you to take more circuitous routes. It's not really a big game, it just takes a long time to play.

While most of your activity is straight-forward, there are some good challenges. They're all of the operate-machinery kind, but they require close attention to the clues. The machines are even believable in context, and operate believably. Most are not very clever challenges, but they are a refreshing change from wandering about.

All that wandering is at least done through an atmospheric castle. It's bare, but that befits a place that is also in serious decline. The interface is intuitive, but there was a curious reluctance to use the inventory. Some objects could only be held in your hand and carried at most a few screens to their intended usage, not allowing you to use any other object for the duration, and even when the object is clearly small enough to fit into your bag.

The story suffers from a lack of motivation, or at least a lack of believable result from that motivation. In the beginning you just want to escape, and your inability to do so is just too artificial. As the game progresses, the reliance on positional triggers without adequate motivation is just tedious, exasperated by the lack of any short-cut or mapping mechanism. This might be palatable if there were good and plentiful challenges along the way, but most are uninspired.

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.