Gemini Rue review
The Good: Remarkable storytelling with a brilliant third act; plenty of impressive animation; proceeds without constraints of unnecessary puzzles; a perfect length.
The Bad: Music is too sparse; backgrounds can be very bland; some spotty voice acting; sure to be considered too easy by many.
Our Verdict: Gemini Rue is the best Wadjet Eye title to date, and within its bleak story, it points the way to a bright future for indie adventures.

The story of Gemini Rue's rise to prominence is a true feel-good story in the adventure genre. Developed almost solely by UCLA Media Arts student Joshua Nuernberger over a period of two years, the game (then called Boryokudan Rue before a well-advised name change) was the Student Showcase Winner at the 2010 Independent Games Festival, eventually leading to a publishing agreement with well-respected indie developer and publisher Wadjet Eye Games. Full voice-acting was added, and Gemini Rue is now a full-fledged retro commercial adventure, and an outstanding one at that.

The story that takes place within Gemini Rue is not nearly so feel-good. It is the bleak story of two tortured souls in a neo-noir future: Azriel Odin, a rogue police officer with a dark past searching for a close friend who has disappeared; and Delta-Six, a resident of the mysterious Center 7 facility who, as part of a rehabilitation process, has had his memory wiped and is undergoing weapons training. Azriel's journey takes him to the dark city of Pittsburg on the planet Barracus, where an epidemic of drug usage has been unleashed by the mafia-like Boryokudan. Delta-Six's journey takes him through his daily routine in the rehab facility, where he attempts to piece together his wiped memories and determine who his true friends are. While seemingly disconnected at first, their stories and fates collide in dramatic and dark fashion in the game's final hours.

Athough Gemini Rue has many positive qualities, it is its sinister and memorable storytelling that sets the game apart as an exceptional independent adventure. Azriel's story takes the first hour or so of the game; Delta-Six then takes over for an hour. At this point, both stories proceed in parallel, and the player is free to switch between the two at any time, whether for reason of variety or just plain being stuck. At about the 5-hour mark, the stories of the dual heroes converge and the game plunges breathlessly into an exceptional and memorable third act. All told, the game provides 7-8 hours of solid playtime, barely a minute of which is wasted time.

I can quantify that with a great deal of certainty for a simple reason: Gemini Rue is a very, very easy game. It feels in many ways like some great Interactive Fiction works such as Photopia that are generally classified as being "on rails" and devoid of any puzzles that could disrupt the progress of storytelling. This game is not quite at that level; there is a lot of walking around in the relatively confined space of the two stories, and there are many challenges that could be described as puzzles, including quite a bit of research by Azriel on the planet computer terminals, but there is no inventory combination and never more than four items carried at once.

Obstacles are almost always a matter of common sense and designed so that solutions are visually obvious. Sometimes the most inelegant solutions are the most sensible ones—windows can be kicked in, locks can be shot off, and boxes can be moved to provide a boost. The immediate goal is always very obvious if one pays attention to text, or when it becomes necessary, trial and error through dialogue trees always proves successful. This is a textbook example of an adventure game that proceeds like reading a great novel, without getting tripped up in overwrought puzzles. Still, the almost total absence of challenge will prove unfortunate to those who feel rewarded after cracking a complex puzzle.

Much hand-wringing will surely take place over the threat of gunfighting action sequences, but I would like to dispose of such chatter with little more than a yawn, which is about the amount of effort I needed to complete these shootouts. I believe I counted five such sequences in the entire game, and none felt out of place. The sequences consist of moving between three positions (call them left exposed, protected, and right exposed) with the A-S-D keys and firing when your enemy moves into the matching position on their side. These events are short, painless, simple, and require a bare minimum of reflexes.

If that's not enough, there's even an Easy setting, and the game autosaves before each action sequence so that no time is wasted if you don't initially survive. I found them so brief and easy that I thought I should replay them on Medium for the review's sake--and was shocked to find that I was already on that setting. Rather than leaving any lasting negative impact on me, I actually found it pleasant to have at least a bit of intensity in the midst of multiple men trying to kill me instead of a silly resolution like just using the gun as a normal inventory item to fire at bad guys. To equate these harmless sequences with something much more difficult (Full Throttle's road battles come to mind) would be a big mistake that would keep you from a great experience.

Continued on the next page...





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Game Info

Gemini Rue

Platform: iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, PC

Genre: Science Fiction

Developer: Joshua Nuernberger

Retro-style cyberpunk sci-fi adventure published by Wadjet Eye Games.

More Game Info »

Releases
Territory Date Publisher
Download February 24 2011 Wadjet Eye Games
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User Score

Average based on 42 ratings

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User Reviews

Posted by debudding on Feb 23, 2014

Another Ridley Scott rip-off... albeit a nice one.

This game really does do amazing stuff with pixels. I was enthralled by the retro pixel art and the atmosphere the game created. The story... Read the review »

Posted by Niclas on Oct 28, 2012
First of all I must say that this game has extremely beautiful pixelated graphics, I am a big sucker for that. Also the production values... Read the review »

Posted by Antrax on Aug 30, 2012

A poor implementation of a good idea

The plot of Gemini Rue is compelling and well-written. Used properly, it could be utilized to draw interesting parallels to the gamer himself.... Read the review »

Posted by dkrizz on Jul 21, 2012

Don't understand the hype

I don't get why people say this game was so mindblowing. The twist was a hair obvious. As for the theme of the game, I would appreciate it... Read the review »



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About the Author
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Evan Dickens
Staff Writer
Evan Dickens is the former editor-in-chief of Adventure Gamers. Now semi-retired, he meanders about on his front porch firing his slingshot at passing cars and griping about "the old days". Full Bio

Comments

rtrooney rtrooney
Feb 25, 2011

First comment is that the Wadjet Eye Games link appears to be inoperable. At least when I click on it, nothing happens. Other than that….

Jackal Jackal
Feb 25, 2011

There wasn’t a link anywhere in the article originally, though come to think of it, it really needs one (and now there is). In any case here’s a purchase link: Wadjet Eye Games

Peter254 Peter254
Feb 25, 2011

Now I really can’t wait to play this.

adventor
Feb 25, 2011

I’ve downloaded and installed but studying has taken precedence. Woe is me. Hopefully I’ll get some play time in tonight!

rambler
Feb 25, 2011

Downloaded it and played 5 minutes. I can already tell that the gameplay is really solid. Can’t wait to get into it properly.

smulan smulan
Feb 25, 2011

The action sequences reminds me a little of the quicktime events in Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy. But Gemini Rue makes intelligent and funny use of them, quite contrary to Fahrenheit’s. And by the way,  the backgrounds are lowres alright, but not as low as 320x200. They are 640x480!

after a brisk nap
Feb 25, 2011

The nearly unanimously excellent reviews of this game make me very excited to play it, and thrilled that JBurger and Wadjet Eye have managed to produce something so successful.

(And the graphics are definitely in 320x200, smulan.)

Ascovel Ascovel
Feb 25, 2011

@smulan The graphics resolution is truly 320x200 - it’s only that on default the game screen size is doubled to 640x400.

640x480 is the resolution of games like Curse of Monkey Island and Toonstruck which were able to show quite a bit more detail than the classic lowres games.

The newest fully hand-drawn games like The Whispered World and Machinarium use resolutions like 1024x768 and 1280x800.

neilka
Feb 25, 2011

Run winsetup.exe from the game directory and choose “no scaling” and it’ll show you that the game runs at 320x200. By default it’s 2x scaled to 640x400.

darthmaul
Feb 25, 2011

I play adventures for puzzles so no thanks.  Disappointing.

colpet colpet
Feb 25, 2011

Thanks for the review, though it’s another ‘not interested’ for me. :-(

smulan smulan
Feb 25, 2011

@Ascovel and neilka
OK, thanks, my mistake.
Anyway - the game looks great and I’m enjoying it immensely!

tastebud
Feb 25, 2011

@darthmaul

i dont. hard puzzles tend to annoy me and they break up the story telling. i hate having to alt-tab out of a game ever 3 minutes and scroll through a word document walkthrough, highlighting everything i have already done Tongue

morriss
Feb 25, 2011

The game is amazing. The atmosphere, the characters truly make this what interactive story-telling is all about. We see BioWare trying as hard as they can to move the story-telling side of gaming forwards, but Josh has eclipsed them already, imo, and I’m only about 2 hours in.

Can’t wait to get back to it.

On the puzzles front, I really believe that hard puzzles would ruin the flow of the game. It’s not about combining items, etc. it’s about telling a story and having you play a role in that tale.

10/10, 5/5: whatever. Top marks.

wielandsmith
Feb 25, 2011

Hmm.  I’d like to play it but I don’t like things that lack challenge.  I’ll have to see.

orient orient
Feb 26, 2011

I’ve spent double the money on adventures that aren’t even half as good as this one. I’m about 3 hours in and totally captivated.

So far I agree with the review in regards to the dialogue—it’s well-written, but with an occasional lack of subtlety that you’d maybe expect from a Blade Runner-type mystery.

However, I think it’s unfair to say that the game has an “almost total lack of challenge”. I’ve come across 2 puzzles in my 3 hours of play-time that took me over 15 minutes each to figure out. Any longer and I would’ve thought “screw this” and consulted a guide, but I’m thankful I didn’t have to. The lack of MacGyver-like item-combining is of no concern. It’s a completely overused staple of the genre anyway.

Finally, I think the shooting segments show some ambition that I appreciate in an indie adventure. It’s not easy to go against the grain, but you’ve got to do what’s best for your game and Joshua Nuernberger has certainly done that.

I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to write once I’ve completed the game, so I better get to it Grin

cbman
Feb 26, 2011

For me a review should take into acocunt the low resolution graphics, which really aren’t good enough for a modern game, independant or not.

Ascovel Ascovel
Feb 26, 2011

@cbman Low resolution graphics are present in many modern games and are a choice of style rather than a choice of old technology. It’s a matter of personal opinion if bigger pixels lessen the quality of the visuals.

To me Gemini’s graphics look terrific. Maybe except for the characters’ portraits (which don’t fit with the rest too well) and a few animations.

Peter254 Peter254
Feb 26, 2011

Low-res versus high-res is where we enter the realm of opinion, not fact. Besides the importance of graphics in gaming being a potentially shallow argument, one needs to take into account the context of a work. Pixel art and low-res is intentionally applied to generate a kind of retro appeal, a different style, and should not be considered a failure in itself. Cupcakes should not be considered a failure compared to normal cakes just because they’re smaller.

And instead of a critic legitimately complaining about the low *quality* of a cupcake, they’re instead saying “I hate cupcakes altogether!” Says more about the critic than about cupcakes.

Hence, this is probably why the reviewer didn’t complain about it. Though I also suspect the reviewer loves the graphics…

dekaneas297 dekaneas297
Feb 26, 2011

Low res graphics. No thanks. We are in 2011.

orient orient
Feb 27, 2011

The art direction is excellent in my opinion. The pixelated look adds a sense of grit and imperfection to the world. I’m not sure the backgrounds would have stood up as well if they were smooth and in 1024x768. Is resolution really an accurate way to judge if a game is worthy or not? I really hope not.

I agree with Ascovel, that the character portraits don’t blend too well with the rest of the game. A more saturated colour palette and pixel graphics would have been much more fitting in my opinion.

tastebud
Feb 27, 2011

the old school graphics are essentially the major reason i got intested in this game. sounds like a lot of people here havent gotten the memo yet “retro-gaming” is in again.

after a brisk nap
Feb 27, 2011

After playing and completing Gemini Rue, I totally agree with Evan’s review that it’s a wonderful title, and that while I can recognize a few technical flaws, they don’t really affect my personal enthusiasm much.

It’s true that few of the puzzles are very tough (I got stuck maybe four times in the game, and only twice badly), but there is a lot of gameplay, which leave no doubt of its genre: you go around exploring screens, gathering information through conversations, fixing/breaking machines, following up on leads, escaping from rooms, etc. There are dialogue puzzles, inventory puzzles, slider/toggle puzzles, distraction puzzles, a couple of pixel hunts (unfortunately), and everything else an adventure gamer would expect. Azriel’s part of the game feels like a legitimate detective investigation, and Delta-Six’s part feels like a pretty plausible escape attempt.

I disagree with Evan in that I think the game often IS beautiful, in that Blade Runner-esque way of beautifully depicting a dirty, run-down, rain-soaked world. And I like the portraits, with their stylized and slightly sharper and less sketchy look, particularly for their color palette.

And with regard to complaints about resolution… if the artist is good, then good graphics are good graphics, irrespective of resolution. Of course not everyone will appreciate it, but with indie and retro developers making new Mega Man games and other 8-bit titles, I’d hope most players would understand it as a viable artistic choice with its own charm and beauty; like when indie filmmakers shoot in black-and-white.

valypan
Feb 27, 2011

I was interested until I saw (or rather failed to see) the screenshots. With this kind of resolution on my hi-res screen I am bound to be playing with pixels and not characters. As much as I love a good story, I feel I must pass this at least for now, for the sake of my poor eyes…

Fien Fien
Feb 27, 2011

I’ll play any good adventure as long as it has an interesting story and an immersive atmosphere, low resolution or not. Sure, it’s a “viable artistic choice with its own charm and beauty”, if you want to serve a niche market. But there’s no shortage of retro-look games these days and I am getting a bit tired of them. I love Gemini Rue so far (just started it), would love it even more if the graphics didn’t have the 80’s look.

adventor
Feb 27, 2011

Personally I was and am put off by the low res graphics. But, the voice acting and sound are really good and really pull you into the game.

Puzzlebots was low res as well (maybe not at as low as this) but once you got playing it really didn’t matter.

For myself I’d prefer to see higher res, but I"m not going to pass up on a great game.

SamuelGordon SamuelGordon
Feb 27, 2011

I can understand the resolution frustration and the easy puzzles. If it wasn’t for the type of story and environment i wouldn’t bother either(love blade runner/GITS type of games).

Simplex Simplex
Feb 28, 2011

“there is no inventory combination and never more than four items carried at once”

Then it must be a bug that I am now carrying 8 objects in inventory Tongue

tastebud
Mar 7, 2011

i just finished this game. i really truly hope we get more games like this in the future. one of my new favs!

KitsuneKirima
May 25, 2011

I was really impressed with almost every aspect in the game. Brilliant plot (with great twists), moody soundtrack, great landscapes that gives a good sense of depth, great voice acting and game meachanics that really should seduce any fan of 90s PnC.

Anyone should play it.

frilansspion
Jun 9, 2011

this review is spot on! Ive heard also a lot of criticism of the gun sequences and what you said about that if it had been actually a bit of a challenge like full throttle it would have been a negative in the end - you rarely sit down with an adventure game to get some arcade action. and still it brings an element of action to the story. (I wouldnt have mind if those sequences _had_ used the standard interface and you just had to click with pistol and time it when the enemy was out of cover, for some consistency. but it certainly isnt a negative bit of the game). and maybe most people dont realise how hard and rare good point and click puzzles are. gemini rue isnt exactly BASS or sins of the fathers in terms of puzzles but its still the best interactive experience Ive had in years, and at least it isnt frustrating and have you stop playing cause of some retarded overdesigned gimmick puzzle. I mean I prefer too easy in that case. I think its just hard to do complexity in such a limited scope and length of the game. and there was a few nuggets in there that I thought was pretty clever, if straightforward. like finding the room numbers, or getting the gun in center 7, or just figuring out who to trust and finding giselle.
the only bit of this review I dont agree with is this “Even by retro standards, this is not a pretty game.” really?? I thought it looked amazing. you could tell sometimes that some of the backgrounds wouldnt have looked that good in high resolution in terms of roughness, and maybe its not AS pretty as sierras or BASSs handpainted backgrounds..but it looks great by anyones standard. especially as its made by ONE person. a young person at that. it blew me away. why have a dig at that and then praise the rain of all things? its a plugin for gods sake. sure its good use of it, but compared to the guys art skills its not even worth mentioning if you ask me (which I realise youre not =) ) anyways thats a great review and sums it up nicely! thanks for a great site! /matt

ner0
Aug 28, 2011

It has been a long time since I stop playing Adventure games, mainly point & click. But after playing Gemini Rue (which I liked a lot) I rediscovered my interest in this kind of games. I liked the story plot and game pace, retro style and also puzzles were not that hard (which most times make me dislike or give up the game), the dialogue which was not that perfect but was okay overall. Can someone point me out a couple of games like Gemini Rue? I’m particularly interested in the sci-fi noir style, if it’s retro even better. I heard people talk about Beneath a Steel Sky and Blade Runner but I don’t know… Blade Runner seems too much sci-fi and complex (time consuming) for me and Beneath a Steel Sky not “noir” enough for my taste. Suggestions? Thanks.

Interplay Interplay
Dec 29, 2011

Well, I finally got around to playing this over the holidays, and I thought it was fantastic!  Definitely deserves its place in the new top 100 list.  I think my only complaint is that the voice acting is not that good, with the notable exception (thankfully) of the main characters.

Regarding the difficulty, I didn’t think it was easy or hard per se.  What I enjoyed is that after a few minutes, I kind of stopped treating it like a normal adventure game (where I have to basically click on every option on every hotspot so as not to miss something) and started behaving more like I would if I were really there.  And the game responded beautifully. 

One thing that I haven’t heard mentioned is the absolutely phenomenal sound design.  I played this game with headphones on, and the sound blew me away.  Yes, the music is used sparingly (and is great!) but I think this is appropriate.  The sound of the rain and how it changed from scene to scene was just so good.

Anyway, enough rambling.  My highest recommendation!

Dan123
Jan 29, 2012

Great game. Quite easy indeed but the story unveils at a comfortable pace which keeps your interest at a high level. The story is original, nice twists, decent ending and interesting characters. The graphics are not the best in the industry of course as the resolution is really low so if you play it full screen is kind of “pixelated”, but it has a nice retro feeling about it. The animations are very nicely done and the general effects within the game are really great for submerging you into the atmosphere.
I strongly recommend it as a nice “adventure appetizer”.

scorp18 scorp18
Aug 10, 2012

Universe with its old graphics beats Perry Rhodan and the modern 3D graphics easily (even if Perry Rhodan is a very good AG too). Of course I’d prefer modern graphics in any recent game, but this doesn’t mean that retro graphics can’t be good too. I guess we’d all be happier if there was a mechanism to switch between retro and modern graphics, like in the Secret of the Monkey Island remake.
So it seems that Gemini Rue will be the next one to play =)

Pikafak
May 27, 2014

Awesome game! Loved the plot from beginning to end. Highly captivating, and the gameplay itself is not difficult so you can sit back and enjoy the story.  The characters are very well developped and the ending is excellent, One can overlook the pixelated graphics as it gives an old school feel. As regards the voice acting, I found it rather irritating so I just disabled it from the options. Other then that I definitely recommend this game to any adventure game fan



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