Platforms Windows, Mac, Linux Developer Prologue Games
Genre Point and Click Adventure Platform Played On Mac
Released back in July of 2015, the first installment of the mystery -adventure game Knee Deep (entitled: Wonderland) left its players with a true-to-form staple of mysteries: an unexpected twist and resulting cliffhanger. Now, following a few months of eager anticipation, players are invited back to the woebegone town of Cypress Knee, Florida, for Knee Deep Act 2: Festival. For their second entry in the series, the development team at Prologue Games paid close attention to popular critiques of the first, hoping to make Festival truly something special. The good news? These efforts have truly paid off.
In this new installment, players still take on familiar roles of sarcastic indie-blogger Ramona Teague, down-on-his-luck journalist Jack Bellet, and hardened private investigator K.C. Gaddis. Although vastly different amongst one another, they’ve all been drawn to Cypress Knee with the same goal: to figure out what really happened to actor Tag Kern, and who’s behind his untimely death. Without spoiling too much, this episode picks up following the sudden (re: “jumping-the-shark”-esque) final moments of the previous episode, where Ta. With a new host of questions and problems brought to light, the three are begrudgingly brought together in time for Cypress Knee’s Founders’ Festival, where there’s a lot more going wrong in town that just the death of an actor.
A bright spot in this installment is this new understanding of pacing which, for a game so heavily reliant on story, is a much needed improvement. Besides being a way to gain various perspectives on the same story, the game’s decision to tell the story of Knee Deep through the eyes of three individuals also creates potential for suspense. Switching between these various perspectives creates an engaging drama, as small pieces of the truth surrounding Kern’s death emerge slowly and then, seemingly, all at once. With Wonderland, the story didn’t particularly pick up until 2/3rds of the way through the game, bogged down by too many moments of dry dialogue; with Festival, the story is constantly moving forward, as the game switches from one character to the next, JUST as a piece of information is revealed. Despite coming in at about half the run time of the first episode (in comparison to Wonderland’s three hour run time), the storytelling experience in Festival feels effortlessly gripping and substantially more effective than the first act.
New to this installment is the addition of voice acting, helping to bring everyone from the trio to minor characters to new life. The change did take a moment to get used to, as I no longer had the freedom to only imagine what voices sounded like, but once I did become accustomed to it, the change provided new appreciation for the characters. The team at Prologue also went as a far as to retroactively add voice-overs to the previous episode, which will be a pleasant addition for those just now discovering the series.
The moody, swampy feel of Cypress Knee is back from the previous episode, but the presentation is still not quite as polished as I wanted it to be. With a well crafted story, layered and developed to the most minor of details, I would expect the visual presentation would be one to match. These moments were far, few and in between, but seeing a plain looking logo on a sign or a less-than-stunning rendering of a prop does take break the illusion. All things considered, this is a very minor complaint.
Mini-games and story reports are also back in this episode, however, they are done with less frequency than the first. I did enjoy getting to put together fingerprints in a drag and drop puzzle and putting a spin on stories based on evidence I had collected, but these are now so few, that it seems like decoration and less like a central part of gameplay. As a result, the game plays more or less like an interactive movie, which is still interesting due to its fantastic story. If you’re looking for something a bit more dynamic , however, there’s room for the series to learn how to more effectively use these opportunities to diverge from strict storytelling.
Knee Deep Act 2: Fesitval was a great time at the theater. Sure, there were definitely moments and small bits that I didn’t particularly enjoy, the story in this is truly one that can carry the whole game. Whether you’re a veteran fan of the murder-mystery genre or someone who simply enjoys solid storytelling, Knee Deep Act 2: Festival is one story that really kills.
- Introduction of voice acting
- New, engaging understanding of pacing
- Reports and Mini-games are a nice touch
- Complex, engaging story
- Fantastic world building and character development
- Ends on another, exciting cliff-hanger!
- Reports and Mini-games are limited and feel “decorative” – not central to driving the story forward
- Visuals could be strengthened to match the quality of the story
- Plays more or less like an interactive movie
The Score: 7.5
Rebeccah Bassell is an editor for Analog Addiction and a lover of all things games! You can like them on Facebook, follow her personal blog, The Rhetorical Gamer, or pretend to be her friend on Twitter. She might even pretend to be your friend back ❤