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PS3Blog.net | April 12, 2024

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[PlayStation 4] Unusual Findings Review

[PlayStation 4] Unusual Findings Review
Ajescent

Unusual Findings from Epic Llama and ESDigital Games is a 1980s-inspired point and click adventure game on PlayStation 5. Check our Unusual Findings review!

 

The 1980s are pretty popular right now, so you would be forgiven for thinking that no other decade existed in the 1900s. I blame Stranger Things – or to avoid intellectual property infringement, we should change the word Strange to Unusual and Things to Findings… that is legally distinct, right? Jokes aside, point and click adventure game Unusual Findings from Epic Llama and ESDigital Games harks back to the 1980s, a time of childish wonder and mystery. Three kids witness the crash landing of an alien ship and go to investigate, only to find themselves trapped in a conspiracy of epic proportions.

Unusual Findings Review - 1

For a game with such an out-of-this-world premise, there is a moderate lack of moon logic to be found here. That which blights the point and click genre, especially during the time period and beyond that the game so lovingly apes, is strangely absent here – and the game is all the better for it! A majority of the puzzles are down-to-earth and logical in structure, though some do require a bit of technical knowledge. For example, one puzzle does require you to know that combining Sodium carbonate and Ammonia phosphorate makes smelling salt. There is a subtle clue given elsewhere, but if you unintentionally miss it or get the clue too late, then that might be a little difficult for some.

 

That, in a nutshell, is reflective of a lot of the puzzles. The first half of the game takes place in the trio’s small town, and, unlike other point and click adventure games, you have free reign of the entire town, allowing you to absorb in great detail the amount of care and attention the team has put into creating this game. The nostalgia is strong with this one as references upon references to all things 1880s America can be found sprawled everywhere. Whilst it is no doubt becoming overdone in recent times, it does not take away from the quality of how it is presented here. I feel that has primarily to do with the writing of Hernan Lopez. The writing is mostly sharp, astute, and to the point of its subject matter. Whilst there are elements that the game stumbles on, especially towards the second half of the game, it should still be lauded for its understanding of 80s nostalgia and the feel of point and click games.

Unusual Findings Review - 2

Whilst the Nostalgia ride is all well and good, this is, first and foremost, a point and click game. Point and click games may have fallen out of favor over the years, with some of them even being streamlined into an Until Dawn or Heavy Rain-style game mainly due to the frustrating traits of moon logic, questionable humor, and a distinct lack of a clear way to progress. As Unusual Findings tries to energize the genre, it does (un)intentionally fall into its pitfalls. The game does try to slim down a lot of the bloaty-ness you find in other point and click by limiting your interactions to things/people you meet to three things: Look, which allows you to analyze an object or read its content; talk, which is simply to talk to things that can be communicated with; and grab, which is a little more versatile than the others as it can mean to take, operate or interact it. You can use collected items to interact with things in the world, as is par for the course for the genre. This style makes the game feel less frustrating than others in its genre, but it still has its faults.

 

As mentioned previously, moon logic does make an appearance in some of its puzzles, and quite often, you will find yourself resorting to guesswork as there does not seem to be any type of hint system in play regarding solving the puzzles. Thankfully pressing up on the D-Pad will show you all interactable items on a particular screen, but very few puzzles make it clear what you need to do. One particular item integral to progression is hidden on a truck that is obscured, and the only way to find it is either by pure accident or with a guide.

Unusual Findings Review - 3

Whilst moon logic still exists, the humor is mostly funny, with some jokes maybe struggling with taste. But where the game falters truly is in its aiding of progress. In short, this game could have done with a task list to help you figure out what you needed to do next. With such an open world and many things to find, the finer details can get lost in the weeds. You end up going back and forth through the different locations, hoping to stumble upon something you might have missed and clicking on everything over and over again. I mentioned the hidden item in the truck previously as being a nuisance. This frustration spreads to other items that can be missed due to the visuals, as some items can camouflage with the background.

 

This would be a good time to talk about the visuals. The game is in love with the 1980s – just like Spandau Ballet, this much is true. It makes sense that the visuals hark to the art style of the generation as best as they can. The pixel art style used here is mostly okay but occasionally borders on unappealing from time to time. The item menus do not look palatable, and some backgrounds look too pixelated to be pleasing. In fairness, this might be due to trying to avoid copyright issues, but it could easily have been done better.

Where it does shine is in its music. The soundtrack is very strong for the most part. But, in my opinion, the usage of You Spin Me Right Round by Dead or Alive as its intro music feels out of place in a game about aliens. Ironically, the “streamer-friendly” version of the song that plays instead feels like a much better fit for what Unusual Findings is trying to achieve. All in all, the game is pretty solid in its music choices, but the same can’t be said for its voice work. For me, some of the voice work feels either off or underwhelming, as some lines are poorly delivered or without the right inflection. Whilst it is not enough to completely remove you from the experience, it does jar from time to time.

Unusual Findings Review - 4

Ultimately, Stranger Thi-… Unusual Findings is a point and click adventure game that is mostly a hit than a miss. Yes, there are a few instances where the game proves to be a bit of an annoyance, but for the most part, it can be enjoyable. With a compelling story, a strong soundtrack, and good writing, Unusual Findings is definitely a game for people who enjoy point and click adventures in their true sense. The game is out on PlayStation 4 with a $19.99 asking price.

Disclaimer
This Unusual Findings review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by ESDigital Games.

Review Overview

And old-school inspired 1980s-infused adventure game
7.5
7.5

Rating