A.D 2044: The Manservant’s Tale
Sexmission (1984) is a comedic science fiction political satire created during the dying years of Communism in Poland. It tells the story of two male scientists who are placed in hibernation for science reasons. However, upon emerging from their hibernation, they discover a post-nuclear nightmare where women are the dominant sex and men are an endangered species. Sexmission is supposedly a critical examination of the many flaws of Communism, using the metaphor of women as a means of showing how Communist governments oppress those who don’t fit in and how they influence society through lies and torture.
Now; I know what you are thinking. “GH.” I hear you say. “Why are you talking about an obscure Polish film when this is a gaming site? Also what has Sexmission got to do with A.D 2044?” I am glad you asked dear reader. A.D 2044 is an adaptation of Sexmission and (at the time) was supposedly something of a breakthrough in the Polish gaming industry (still in itself infancy in 1991 of the original release and 1996 of the second release). I have not watched Sexmission; I only had the IMDB reviews and the plot summary to help me understand the movie. It sounds like a fascinating film and I will hope to watch it someday. But this game...is nowhere near as intelligent as the movie seems to be.
A radical feminist group, hell-bent on equality between the sexes, get their hands on several nuclear warheads and quickly detonate them. With men almost completely wiped out and only one thousand women surviving, civilization is dramatically changed. You play as one of the final members of the human male, who wants to escape his imprisonment and find a way to escape. All of this could be interesting (and may even be so in the film). But the delivery is terrible. Because of the weak amateurish audio and mumbling narration, it is rather difficult to care or even follow what is happening. The jokes are weak to the point of desperation; almost every line is either a quip or supposedly witty observations. But because of the weak voice acting, all it does it remove any sense of tension.
The voice acting
I think there are only two voice actors in the cast. Both of which are completely amateurish and stiffer then a steel bar encased on concrete. Please keep in mind that we have to spend potentially hours with these characters. It’s not partially rewarding or engaging for the player who has to learn the world and story through the narration. If the characters sound like lifeless dolls then why should we care?
The translation from Polish to English is laughably bad. You will notice that many of the screenshots I have included in this post have spelling errors or simple failure to translate. It takes me out of the world and story every time, guaranteed. I suspect that it was down to inexperience, Poland wouldn’t have had much access to English translators during the reconstruction period. But unfortunately, it doesn't excuse the fact that the finished product has spelling errors and Polish text in an English release.
A.D 2044 has the atypical Point and Click gameplay. You roam around rooms looking for things to click on so your inventory is filled like a kleptomaniac. Then you rub two objects together to make something new so progression can be made. There is no moon logic in A.D 2044 (at least as far as I know) but there some other problems that affect the experience.
A problem with A.D 2044 (and even the best Lucasarts IPs) is that items required to progress can be hidden with such pixel-perfect precision, that even the slightest movement can stop you from finding the object. One such example would be the matches. They are hidden under the bowl but you cannot access them until carefully comb through each pixel to find the perfect spot. The reason I ended my playthrough was simply that I couldn’t find the exact spot where the game would let me drill a hole into a metal cylinder. This annoyingly finicky progress is not fun or challenging because you know the answer to the puzzle but the game itself won't let you progress until you fit the puzzle piece in the absolute correct place.
Where does this go
There is no rhyme or reason for the placement and usage of items. Some are obvious, like using the spoon to eat the pie. But another puzzle requires you to create smoke so that you can escape the cell. After the finding, the matches can either use them to light a cigarette or set fire to the bed. You might think that this advanced civilization might create a smoke alarm that won’t trigger over a lit cigarette as opposed to a bed.
But if you are sensible and try to ignite the mattress, nothing happens. Only if you stand directly under the smoke detector while lighting the cigarette, is the puzzle solved. The metal pin is referred to as “thing” when you try to combine it with a drill. I still don't understand what I am supposed to do with the badge or the newspaper. A.D 2044 fails to guide the player into figuring out the puzzle. Instead offering confusing instructions and obtuse steps to puzzles that are not that complicated.
Art style and graphics:
I will not be too harsh in this regard. I could say that the A.D 2044 looks hideous in almost every single way. Almost all games from the period are pretty hideous by today's standards. There some exceptions (Mario 64 springs to mind) but those have been able to last due to their color scheme as opposed to graphical fertility.
A.D 2044 is not fun and has aged as well as Macaulay Culkin. I left my second attempt at playing A.D 2044 the same way as the last time. Out of ideas as to where I should go or do because the pixel that I was supposed to click on, somehow didn’t work. Back in the day A.D 2044 might have helped establish Poland as a gaming producer, it might have even helped pave the way for CD Projekt and Witcher 3. But now, it is not a good game.
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