MISSING: An Interactive Thriller - Episode 1

Riding the wave of burgeoning FMV adventure games, MISSING: An Interactive Thriller is a good example of the genre that doesn't break any new ground. Episode one opens as protagonist David Newcastle wakes up to find he is chained up in a small dark room with the words "Play with me" painted on the door. This first episode allows us to play as two characters: the captured David and Lambert, the detective looking for him.

The game segues seamlessly between puzzle solving and video that makes up the majority of the game. Puzzle are of the point and click variety and while some take a bit of brain power, most are simply a matter of clicking on everything on screen until a solution presents itself. The game isn't even restricted to cutscenes and puzzle solving. Quick time events require you to click a circle that pops up fast enough or something bad happens (death or. . . spilling coffee). Overall though, the puzzle are a bit disappointing. One required me to click randomly until the correct combination was entered, another provided the solution making it the easiest gaming puzzle I've ever completed, and one was shamelessly used twice.

The FMV in this game is fantastic, shot in HD and without any hiccups. The actors keep their performances grounded and believable, a far cry from the hammy and overacting FMV games of the 90's. Especially good is Patrick Hivon as David, whose isolated performance could easily have gone over the top. If this is the level of quality we can expect from FMV games going forward, I am optimistic.

The game is a bit on the short side and can easily be completed in under an hour. For a first episode, and for the price, that isn't bad, the problem is that they don't do enough in that time to hook in the player. In the beginning of the episode it is clear that David has been kidnapped and his captor is threatening his family. At the end of the episode that is still all the information we have. Detective Lambert's mini episode consists of a couple spoken lines and a search of a vehicle that lasts only a couple minutes. All I know about him is that he is a detective and drinks coffee.

Missing: An Interactive Thriller shows that advances in technology can make FMV games viable again. Hopefully future episodes will have more innovative puzzles and stronger story elements to make me care more about these characters and their situation. If you can justify the four dollars and don't mind the short play time, you should enjoy episode one of Missing: An Interactive Thriller.