A Golden Wake - Review

Author: Elena Avesani
Date: 2020-07-30 23:49:08
A Golden Wake is a graphic adventure produced by Wadjet Eye Games and developed by Francisco Gonzales, an independent game designer from New York. Of Wadjet Eye Games we remember that it has earned the attention of those who love "old-fashioned" graphic adventures thanks to Gemini Rue, The Shivah and the saga in five episodes of Blackwell (the latter two developed by the founder Dave Gilbert). By Francisco Gonzalez, in turn founder of Grundislav Games, we can instead say that with A Golden Wake he makes his debut with a commercial adventure, given that his first work of recall, the eight episodes of Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator, in addition to have received many awards it was distributed for free between 2004 and 2012. With such a pedigree we could not miss the opportunity to try out A Golden Wake, a video game developed with the Adventure Game Studio tool and so niche that maybe it will turn pale in front of the big names of the moment (Forza Horizon 2 is having a lot of fun), but that in the scene of the indie graphic adventures still has an important place and is highly anticipated.

Set in Florida in the 1920s, the story of A Golden Wake is based on characters that really existed, extends over a rather large period of time and speaks of the construction of Coral Gables, a suburb of Miami built during the great construction boom of that period. The protagonist of the game is Alfie Banks, a young New York real estate agent who goes to Miami in search of luck. Between flapper, prohibition, speakeasy, jazz music played in the lounges of grandiose hotels that still smell of fresh paint, mafia and hurricanes Alfie lives his own parable as a social climber.

The basic ingredients are undoubtedly succulent, my thoughts immediately flew to one of the adventures I remember most fondly (The Colonel's Bequest which, together with Laura Bow: The Dagger of Amon Ra, shares with A Golden Wake the era in which is set), however here I stop because the review of the game by Grundislav Games cannot proceed as a comparison with the titles that made history and had a different production behind them. In truth, after having finished everything A Golden Wake in just under six hours, I prefer to comment on it systematically, deepening each aspect each time, because if on the one hand it is an interesting game, on the other it has quite obvious limits, the first of which is (sob!) history.

Although Gonzalez manages to recreate the atmosphere of the time with a few pixels and a few words, Alfie's events develop in a somewhat forced and impulsive way, without any particular study. This aspect, among other things, is so evident as to convey a certain superficiality in the development of the plot, in the face of dialogues and characters that, although quick, are well characterized. And this superficiality hovers a bit throughout the game, from puzzle to puzzle, from setting to setting, where the key points of the game unfold without particular difficulties, at times in an all too hasty way. Realizing that it is the second time that I use the adjective "hasty", I really think it is the most correct word to describe A Golden Wake. So too are the backdrops: we cannot blame them for being simple and pixelated, because the effect is wanted and paid as a tribute to the genre and in any case they are the result of the work of a small developer.

Basically I had the impression of playing an adventure that could have given me much more but that, at any time when it could have done so, left me speechless. There are also more "arcade" phases, mini-games to be solved to convince other characters to say or do something: needless to say, even in this case the idea is good but the realization is not very articulated, at times elementary. And I write all this with a lot of disappointment, because the potential is all in there but it is not expressed. To the point that I would like a "deluxe" version, in-depth, elongated, with more details, less rushed. I would have liked much more: Francisco, I WANT MOAR!

I used a code to play A Golden Wake on PC received from Wadjet Eye Games, and I ended the adventure in a few hours on my powerful vehicle without ever having to use the kindly made available walkthrough. You can download the game demo from Steam which will be commercially available for PC, Linux and Mac starting October 9 at a cost of $ 14.99.