Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

It’s no secret that high-quality classic quests are under pressure right now. Even the Germans from Daedalic Entertainment seem to have completely forgotten about the legacy of Deponia and The Whispered World, switching to survival games, platformers, arcades and PS VR games. And yet the genre lives on. As the authors of Truberbrook prove, he is even capable of surprising.

Handmade

True, this game surprises, first of all, not with the gameplay, but with its appearance. The fact is that all locations and character models in Truberbrook are created by hand. The authors processed each scene individually and illuminated with real, not simulated light. Then all this was digitized using photogrammetry technology and transferred to the game. This allowed us to build very detailed, lively locations and even recreate the change of time of day and different weather conditions. All in all, Truberbrook looks really cool.

Such painstaking work, of course, required a lot of time and effort – this was most likely the lion’s share of the almost 200 thousand euros that the developers raised for the project through Kickstarter last fall.

Secret materials

You are probably now waiting for me to say: but, they say, there was clearly not enough money for everything else! But no, I won’t tell. The rest, for the most part, also pleased – especially the plot and character development. The authors do not hide that they were inspired by the series The X-Files, Twin Peaks, Stranger Things and Star Trek. And it is immediately felt.

Truberbrook is set in 1967, but the focus is not on the Cold War, the conflict in Vietnam, the moon race between the USSR and the United States, or student unrest in Europe, but on the strange events that happen in the life of American physics student Hans Tannhäuser. He won a lottery, which he never participated in, a trip to the small German town of Truberbruck. Immediately upon arrival there, his work on quantum physics is stolen by a ghost (seemingly), begging to save him.

Truberbrook game review

There are many different characters here.

And off we go. This story features time travelers, dimensional portals, ancient sects disguised as modern industrial corporations, ancient gates that can be opened with the help of Germanic runes and Egyptian hieroglyphs, chatty AI, a local “Loch Ness monster” from a lake named Trudy. In the end, we need to save the world from Gretchen Lemke, a paleoanthropology student, along the way by sending home a mysterious inventor from another dimension, Lazarus Taft.

Irony versus mysticism

Have you already felt the irony in all this? Yes, as much as Twin Peaks was originally conceived as a parody of police series, Truberbrook is basically more of a comedy than a serious statement on the topic.

Here, for example, is full of crazy people. Some live in a tree and try to find out what kind of intelligence Hans represents. Others lock him in a former hotel building and conduct psychological tests to determine if our hero is an alien. There is also a sad and lonely AI in the form of a fluttering monitor. He refuses to give Hans the necessary access, because then the hero will leave and leave him alone – we have to assure the silicon brains of our eternal friendship and promise to visit them.

At some point, Hans and the same Gretchen Lemke can go to the mountains on a cable car, grabbing clothes hangers attached to a cable. Or the protagonist will bring down the stalactite in the cave so that it falls into the water, works like a cork in the bathroom and the water rises. Or he puts on a helmet, sits in a trolley and, by hitting a gas cylinder, turns it into a rocket projectile to break the barrier.

Truberbrook game review

Yes, not all references in the game are funny. By the way, Russian localization is incomplete here.

There are also a lot of funny references in the game – not only to Twin Peaks (for example, Hans, just like special agent Cooper, loves to record everything on a voice recorder), but also to the Monkey Island series (it is no coincidence that the authors were advised by Ron Gilbert himself – Ron Gilbert) and much more to what. And in the wonderful soundtrack, references to the enveloping jazz modulations in the spirit of Angelo Badalamenti and the raucous blues (as well as folk and alternative jazz) of Tom Waits are clearly audible.

very strange things

The gameplay itself does not disappoint either. Yes, there are no very complicated puzzles and mini-games here – everything is built around the classic exercises of collecting objects and applying them in the right places. In this case, you don’t even need to combine things in the inventory. If you, say, have already picked up a pair of boots and two dustbin covers, then after you click where necessary, the game itself will offer to combine all this in order to get through the swamp to the mushrooms (don’t even ask why).

Yes, there is a strange or, as it may seem, completely absent logic here – take, for example, repairing a water bike with the help of sauce. Some things have to be done without really knowing why. We can, perplexed, catch fireflies in a jar even before we know that it will be very dark in the basement, which is not yet accessible – and we can use them instead of a flashlight.

On the other hand, this is a game inspired, among other things, by Stranger Things and Twin Peaks, so strange logic suits her somewhere. In addition, for the most part, everything is just very logical and competently woven into the narrative. Therefore, the story as a whole develops dynamically and keeps in suspense.

This is how the scenery was created.

Well, in general, Truberbrook has a lot of interesting situations and related mysteries – you have to activate runes / hieroglyphs / Latin / rock art / graffiti in the correct sequence, and talk to a sad AI or a crazy conspiracy theorist, and pass funny psychological tests. At some point, after getting the musicians drunk with their own brand of moonshine, you can even take part in a concert of a local band, determining what words to sing, and simply enjoying their motives in the spirit of Tom Waits.

***

The value of Truberbrook, in fact, is difficult to overestimate. This is the first really solid and high-quality classical quest in the point and click genre for a long time – indie variations still don’t count. It’s a fairly ambitious game with an innovative, costly approach to visuals that has paid off. With all the questions about the logic and content of some puzzles, this story at the junction of mysticism, thriller and comedy is really captivating, evoking warm memories of the evenings spent watching Twin Peaks and The X-Files.

Pros: fascinating plot; developed characters; appropriate humor; numerous cross-cultural references; many dynamic situations and puzzles; atmospheric soundtrack; Gorgeous graphics based on hand-crafted scenery.

Cons: in some places there are questions to the logic of local puzzles, situations and dialogues; not the longest.

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