|System: DS, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Funisphere||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Deep Silver||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 23, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Something really incredible happened in Russia a hundred years ago; incredibly destructive and cataclysmic. Whats even more incredible is that no one has been able to ascertain the exact cause of the event. Secret Files: Tunguska for the DS attempts to shed some light on the mystery, but may only serve to immerse you further into a secretive world where knowledge is a dangerous commodity.
An explosion or impact of some kind occurred in the Tunguska region of Siberia in the Soviet Union in 1908. The destruction was immense, as millions of trees were destroyed in an area more than 800-square miles. Some of the trees were completely turned to ash while others were uprooted and overturned. With no crater discovered, the theory of a meteor or foreign object from outer space is difficult to prove. Radiation levels at the sight are consistent with a nuclear explosion, and eyewitness accounts tell of a large mushroom cloud with three evenings of daylight in some areas of northern Europe. Keep in mind, this is nearly 40 years before the explosion of the first atomic bomb. It is estimated that this explosion was 2,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Steeped in real-life with plenty of historical accuracies, Secret Files: Tunguska manages to weave a believable atmosphere of mystery, tension, suspense, and subterfuge. Adapted from the PC version for the DS, this point-and-click adventure game shows the huge potential for similar titles on the system. This is by far one of the best such adventure games on the DS, but its not without some issues. Its as good a rendition as one may expect from a PC game, but some of the puzzles are sure to annoy those that are not rabid fans of the genre. Overall, the game is very well done, with the stylus slowly becoming my preferred method of pointing. At least half of the puzzles can be solved logically, but the other ones will have you scratching your head trying to figure them out, and shaking it once you do discover the solution.
Theres nothing to write home about as far as the human interest aspect of the storyline is concerned, but thankfully the writing is good with plenty of plot twists and other such devices to keep you interested. Nina is the female lead, and her character is nicely developed, both in terms of personality and physical appearance. As dark as the storyline gets, there is a genuine element of humor that prevails throughout, giving the game a more realistic and human edge. Weve all played games with those super serious characters that seem devoid of a personality. We just dont care about these characters and obviously neither did the developers as they are just a means to an end. Fortunately Nina, a motorcycle mechanic, is more dimensional than some real people I know. The same cant be said for her partner and potential love interest, Max Gruber. Not only is his dialogue poorly written, but its poorly acted as well. Max is a playable character but fortunately hes used sparingly. Surprisingly, the other interactive characters seem to have plenty of life to them. Theres not very much voicework, as its all relegated to the cutscenes, but there are well animated facial expressions that serve to help the characters more clearly communicate their emotions.
Travelling around the world to find clues to her fathers mysterious disappearance, Nina searches for evidence in locales such as China, Germany, Cuba, Antarctica, and, of course, Russia. She manages to discover that her father was involved in the investigation of the Tunguska explosion. Soon you discover that other ominous figures are interested in the findings of this investigation. So, now youre not only investigating a disappearance, but youve got to be vigilant for your own safety.