|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Future Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: The Adventure Company||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 13, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The high-quality graphics are easily one of the game's strongest areas. The visuals in Next Life are outstanding regardless of whether you're up close and personal with a character or off exploring the different interactive environments. The static backgrounds are beautiful, and the character models are some of the most detailed and realistic to appear in an adventure title yet. There is also a subtle visual touch which really improves island exploration significantly.
As the game progresses early on you'll walk through many of the same locations, but each day the camera angles will change slightly from one area to the next. It offers a new perspective and allows you to interact with different objects you may not have noticed before. When it actually comes to physically moving Raichl around, things aren't quite as pretty. His movements are unexpectedly stiff, robotic, and painfully slow. Moving from one location to another can be sped up slightly by double clicking the mouse, but interacting with objects often requires him to casually stroll over to the hotspot, stop, turn in place, bend down, grab the item, and get back up. It's far from fluid, and it can seem like forever before the process is complete.
One important quirk about Next Life involves the dialogue. The voice over work is a bit awkward, but the variety of different accents is entertaining. There are never too many dull moments in terms of dialogue since the game does manage to do a good job of wrapping players in the mystery of the story and conversations yield clues to what's happening. The subtitles, however, don't always match up with what's coming out of your PC speakers. In fact, it's clear the audio has been cleaned up by the censors, but they missed many of the more "colorful" comments which were left untouched in the subtitles. It's mostly pretty humorous, but some players may find it offensive.
The many small issues do add up over time, but ultimately Next Life is not a bad adventure title. It does what any solid game in the genre should by immersing players in a deeply interactive and fantastic story environment. It also creates a strong sense of intrigue which will draw you forward through the plot of the game. The problem is there are frequent moments were players may wish to keep moving ahead to find out what happens next, yet they'll be impeded by a number of unintentionally frustrating obstacles in the gameplay. With the patience to overcome these impediments it's possible to persevere in your quest and have fun in the process.
CCC Freelance Writer