Moebius: Empire Rising
Gameplay 6
Graphics 7
Sound 9

There is no doubt that Moebius: Empire Rising is not going to be a game that everyone will enjoy. The lead character alone will probably rub most people the wrong way and the character models are also far from cutting edge. Despite this it has a very interesting storyline and if you get hooked you will definitely want to see it through to the end. I enjoyed my time with Moebius and would absolutely love to see a sequel that fleshes out the story even more.

Gameplay: Easy puzzles make the game accessible to newcomers and it is entertaining despite some flaws.

Graphics: Nice backgrounds but the character models and animation let things down a bit.

Sound: Good voice acting and an absolutely brilliant soundtrack

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Moebius: Empire Rising

Developer: Phoenix Online Studios | Publisher: Phoenix Online Studios | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Point & Click Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

The lead character in Moebius, Malachi Rector, is a dealer in high-end antiques so it comes as a bit of a surprise to him when he is contacted by a secretive government agency. What is even more perplexing is what they want him to do, travel to Venice and profile a murdered woman. The opportunity is too intriguing for Malachi to pass up, and so starts an adventure that will lead him across the globe and deep into the heart of a convoluted conspiracy.

As someone who has been playing point-and-click adventure games since the early days of Lucasarts and Sierra, it is hard not to have high expectations when the name of Jane Jensen is mentioned in conjunction with a new title. Her Gabriel Knight titles are rightfully regarded as some of the best in the genre and Moebius promised to follow in the fine tradition of mixing a good mystery with some supernatural elements. Funding for the game was achieved through Kickstarter although the rather modest sum (compared to some other high profile titles) definitely had an impact on the finished product.

Moebius: Empire Rising is quite an ambitious title and it impressed me that the developers focused on delivering a full-fledged game instead of breaking it up into episodes as is the norm lately.  The game includes an e-comic, accessible from the main menu, which explains the background story of the lead character. Despite boasting an IQ of 175, Malachi could only watch helplessly as his mother was killed by a lion in South Africa. This must have made quite an impact on him as he is quite a cold and distant character prone to panic attacks. He is also very good at his job, which makes him quite sought after and ensures that he has no shortage of cash.

After returning to his upscale antique shop in Manhattan, Malachi is contacted by a man named Amble Dexter, who wants him to perform a job that involves his photographic memory and extensive knowledge of history instead of the usual antique appraising. The simple sounding job becomes very complicated as Malachi is drawn into a world of murder, mystery and secret organizations. Along the way he also meets up with a former Special Forces operative, David Walker, with whom he forms a special bond. This is about as much as I can say about the storyline without venturing into spoiler territory, but I did find it quite unique and very interesting. The pace is rather slow, but the game managed to capture my attention right to the end and I would definitely like to see more games set in the Moebius universe.

Malachi Rector is not a very likeable character to be honest, and initially I found him to be quite irritating. He seems to have a disdain for people in general and distrusts everyone he meets. As the game progressed, I got used to his personality, but one thing is for sure, he has none of the charm that Gabriel Knight had. David Walker, who you control at certain points in the game, makes for a decent enough sidekick and thankfully he isn’t as obnoxious as Malachi.

As the game is a point-and-click adventure, you travel from location to location, questioning everybody and observing anything in order to advance the storyline. You will visit locations from all over the globe, including New York, Venice, Paris and Cairo, which gives the game a bit of a Broken Sword feel. Unfortunately, there are not that many scenes for each location and the game is very linear. You don’t have to worry about getting stuck though, especially if you have any experience in the genre as Moebius is quite an easy game. There is even a built-in hint system that can be consulted if you really find yourself not knowing what to do. The puzzles are generally logical and steer clear of the convoluted stuff that you sometimes find in the genre. What might annoy some people is that Malachi refuses to pick up anything that he doesn’t have an immediate use for. This means that there is usually some backtracking involved when you discover a use for the item that you have spotted earlier.

Questioning other characters and examining the environments unlocks data points which you then use to match people up with their historical counterparts. You can also analyze people you meet based on factors such as their expressions, clothes and posture, although a certain amount of trial and error is usually involved. The conversations are generally good with decent voice acting, but unfortunately the lip synching is not that good, which does detract somewhat from the experience. The voice acting definitely matches the characters, with the voice actor for Malachi in particular doing a good job breathing life into his acerbic personality. One of my favorite elements of the game is the soundtrack, which is handled by Robert Holmes. I’m a sucker for beautiful piano music and Moebius has this in spades. I’m actually listening to the soundtrack while writing this review, which is not something that happens very often.

One area where the lower budget that the developers had to work with definitely shines through is the visuals. I liked the colorful, hand painted backdrops, but the 3D characters sometimes looked a little out of place. There is just something about the characters that looks very rigid and uncomfortable. It is something that you can get used to as the game progresses, but it always remains noticeable. Another gripe I have is the horrible maze segment towards the end of the game, which just feels like it was added for the sake of padding. Making your way through identical caverns where you can get lost is definitely not fun and what should have been a strong ending, feels a little cheap. The game was very stable on my system and the only crash I encountered was towards the end, which was quickly remedied by disabling Raptr.

Despite my complaints I enjoyed Moebius and while it doesn’t come close to the Gabriel Knight games in terms of characters or polish, it did keep me entertained for close to ten hours. If you are not a fan of old school point-and-click adventure games, or can’t put up with the slightly awkward visuals then you will probably not have as much fun with Moebius. Thankfully, there is a demo available HERE which you can try out to see if it is worth shelling out for the full game.

System Requirements

  • OS: XP/Vista/7
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: ATI or NVidia with 512 MB RAM**
  • Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: ** – Not recommended for play on Intel systems with integrated/shared video memory
  • OS: XP/Vista/7
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: ATI or NVidia with 1 GB RAM**
  • Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: ** – Not recommended for play on Intel systems with integrated/shared video memory

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