Review : “Gemini Rue” (Computer Game)

2016 Artwork Gemini Rue Review Sketch

Well, I was looking for some new computer games last November and, since GOG were having their autumn sale, I picked up a few interesting games fairly cheaply (“Gemini Rue”, “The Blackwell Bundle” and “Blood II: The Blood Group”).

So, for today, I thought that I’d take a look at “Gemini Rue” because, well, I have a lot to say about this game.

Before I go any further, I should probably point out that although this is a modern game, it will probably work on pretty much any computer made during the last decade.

Plus, although this game is available to buy as a direct download from GOG, it is also available on other platforms such as Steam too – so, be sure to shop around.

I’ll try to avoid them, but this review may also possibly contain some mild PLOT SPOILERS too.

Anyway, let’s take a look at Gemini Rue:

Gemini rue title screen

“Gemini Rue” is a 1990s-style cyberpunk detective adventure game from 2011 by Joshua Nuernburger.

In it, you play as both a detective called Azriel Odin, who is searching a Mafia-controlled planet for information about his brother’s whereabouts and you also play as a prisoner (with no memory) called Delta-Six who is trying to escape a mysterious facility.

These two plot lines play out beside each other and sometimes you have to play as one character and sometimes you can switch between the two at will.

Yay! He's a cynical hardboiled detective :) The best kind :)

Yay! He’s a cynical hardboiled detective 🙂 The best kind 🙂

...And, WHAT is going on here?

…And, WHAT is going on here?

I’d talk more about the plot of the game, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. Seriously, this game has one hell of a story – even if you don’t like “point and click” games, it’s worth playing this game for the story alone.

And the atmosphere too. This game is wonderfully atmospheric :)

And the atmosphere too. This game is wonderfully atmospheric 🙂

Not to mention that you can't get more cyberpunk than THIS too! Seriously, static AND rain in the same place. So cool :)

Not to mention that you can’t get more cyberpunk than THIS too! Seriously, static AND rain in the same place. So cool 🙂

Not only is the game set in a fairly detailed fictional world that has a lot of backstory (eg: the nefarious Boryokudan gangs who control various planets, allusions to a “Gemini War” that took place before the events of the game etc…) but the characters and the main story are also astonishingly good too.

Again, I don’t want to spoil the main plot too much but, although it starts out as a fairly standard (albeit really cool) dystopic sci-fi cyberpunk thriller story, the story quickly goes in all sorts of interesting directions and it eventually has a level of philosophical and intellectual depth that is comparable to a movie like “Blade Runner“. And, well, I don’t compare stories to a cinematic classic like this lightly.

Yes, this scene even reminds me of part of the "Blade Runner" computer game from 1997

Yes, this scene even reminds me of part of the “Blade Runner” computer game from 1997

Yes, the fictional world of “Gemini Rue” isn’t quite as detailed as the one in, say, “The Longest Journey“, but this game still contains one of the best – and most intelligent- stories that I’ve seen in a while.

Plus, there are also apparently several easter eggs hidden throughout the game to reward exploration – I only found one of them, but it was really cool:

Yes, you can find Ed and Ein from "Cowboy Bebop" in this game! This is SO cool :)

Yes, you can find Ed and Ein from “Cowboy Bebop” in this game! This is SO cool 🙂

When you play as Azriel, you get to meet a wide variety of interesting (and sometimes shady) characters and the gameplay is slightly more exploration and action-orientated.

You’re thrown into a mysterious planet and a web of strange conspiracies and it is up to you to unravel them and find our where your brother is. When you talk to characters, you’re never quite sure whether you should lie or tell the truth about what you’re up to.

 Sometimes the truth works, sometimes it doesn't.

Sometimes the truth works, sometimes it doesn’t.

And, like all good hardboiled detectives, Azriel is also at least slightly morally ambiguous.

And, like all good hardboiled detectives, Azriel is also at least slightly morally ambiguous.

However, when you play as Delta-Six, the gameplay is a lot more puzzle and dialogue-orientated. One of the most dramatic elements of this section of the game is that you’re never quite sure which of the other prisoners you can trust and which ones you can’t.

This adds a real sense of uncertainty to the game which really drives home the fact that Delta-Six can’t remember anything before the events of the game:

Don't trust anyone? Well, that's reassuring!

Don’t trust anyone? Well, that’s reassuring!

For the most part, the gameplay is fairly standard “point and click” gameplay, albeit with a few changes. The most notable of these is that the game includes a real-time combat system. Although this is a rather innovative idea, it’s somewhat clunky – since it relies more on precise timing and luck than anything else.

Basically, you have to hide behind cover and look out and shoot at just the right moment (and you only have about three hit points before you die). Although the game auto-saves before each fight, I sometimes experienced some graphical glitches when loading these auto-saved games:

This is what the combat is SUPPOSED to look like.

This is what the combat is SUPPOSED to look like.

But this is what it looks like sometimes when you load an autosave after dying. Life's a glitch!

But this is what it looks like sometimes when you load an autosave after dying. Life’s a glitch!

Still, there are thankfully only a few of these clunky combat segments in the game. Most of the time, you’ll be doing traditional adventure game stuff, like talking to characters and solving puzzles.

And, yes, one of them involves enhancing a photo, "Blade Runner" style. This is SO cool  :)

And, yes, one of them involves enhancing a photo, “Blade Runner” style. This is SO cool 🙂

Although the puzzles near the beginning of the game are reasonably fair and can be solved with a bit of careful thought (even by someone like me who is terrible at adventure game puzzles), the difficulty increases fairly significantly as the game progresses – so, unless you like figuring out convoluted puzzles and doing the occasional spot of pixel hunting, then keep a walkthrough handy:

Yes, although it has cool 1990s-style graphics, it also has 1990s-style pixel hunting too.

Yes, although it has cool 1990s-style graphics, it also has 1990s-style pixel hunting too.

In terms of length, this game is medium-length. I got through it, with the occasional use of a walkthrough, in about two days of regular playing (maybe 8-10 hours total at a guess).

If you don’t use a walkthrough, then I imagine that this game might take several days to complete. It isn’t a short game, but it’s not exactly a gigantic one either. If you have limited funds, then wait for it to go on sale. But, even at full price, this game is probably reasonable value for money.

Graphically, this game is stunning. If, like me, you’re a fan of 1990s-style pixel art graphics, then you’ll be more than at home here.

Is it just me, or does this part of the game look a little bit like a H.R. Giger painting :)

Is it just me, or does this part of the game look a little bit like a H.R. Giger painting 🙂

Not only that, I absolutely loved the purple and black colour scheme (my favourite!) in Azriel’s part of the game and I also loved how the world of the game looks a lot like a cross between something from “Blade Runner”, something from “Portal” and something from “Beneath A Steel Sky“, whilst also being it’s own unique thing too.

Unfortunately, you don't get to use a Portal gun here though.

Unfortunately, you don’t get to use a Portal gun here though.

The spaceship also reminds me a bit of a cross between "Alien" and "Cowboy Bebop" too :)

The spaceship also reminds me a bit of a cross between “Alien” and “Cowboy Bebop” too 🙂

In terms of music and voice-acting, this game is fairly good.

Most of the characters sound fairly realistic -although the voice actor for the director was slightly mismatched in my opinion, when you listen to his voice and then see a close-up picture of him- you’ll get what I mean.

Musically, this game contains a vaguely film noir/Blade Runner-esque smooth jazz (?) soundtrack that goes really well the settings of the game.

All in all, if you’re a fan of “Blade Runner”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Beneath A Steel Sky” and/or [A novel/ film that I really want to mention, but won’t – because spoilers] then you will love this game.

Even though some of the gameplay is a little bit clunky and some of the puzzles pretty much require a walkthrough, this is one of the coolest games that I’ve played in a while.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would just about get five.

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