Trüberbrook has a lot going for it: a unique artistic approach, an interesting setting and story, and an evergreen genre that never feels oversaturated. Although it never quite lives up to its potential, Trüberbrook in its best moments at least reminds jaded players that creative developers can surprise them.
In Trüberbrook’s case, the way the game looks is what makes it worth looking at. Using a technique called photogrammetry, digital characters, animations and objects are integrated with painstakingly hand-built physical sets, and the result is memorable, detailed, and charming. Although up-close some of the digital models pale in comparison with the physical sets, Trüberbrook looks unlike anything on the market, and is almost worth playing just to experience a genuinely new visual aesthetic.
Trüberbrook is an old school point-and-click adventure, pixel hunting and all. A short prologue serves as a tutorial and unfortunately reminds us that the genre can be both interesting and tedious, because there’s always just one solution to the object-oriented puzzles and while the graphics hold our attention, the lack of freedom to explore the environment feels restrictive.
After the introduction, the story begins properly and we find ourselves in the titular German town, circa the late 1960’s and our adventure begins. We play young Hans, a physicist who has won a vacation to Trüberbrook and within minutes we are thrust into solving a number of increasingly odd mysteries and interacting with the town’s cast of odd, eccentric and often amusing characters. Over the course of eight or so hours and four main chapters, Hans explores not just Trüberbrook but a variety of beautifully crafted outdoor and interior environments. Of course one expects some references to the late 60’s, Flower Power culture but there is also a spy caper vibe mixed with some X-Files/Twin Peaks weirdness. The humor, writing and voice acting always have a sense of coming through from another language, which adds to the overall off-kilter feel of the story and world.
Point-and-click adventures often feature puzzles that defy conventional logic, and while most of Trüberbrook’s puzzles are conventional — if, at times, convoluted — occasionally they break their own rules and ask the player to think outside the gameworld. Unfortunately, the game’s restrictive inventory management system and sometimes fiddly controls add an ongoing element of frustration to the task. Trüberbrook’s pace is slow and deliberate and movement feels claustrophobic.
I really liked the way Trüberbrook looks, and although that isn’t enough to carry even a short game, Trüberbrook had enough interesting story beats and characters to keep me engaged. Mechanical issues and slow pace would have killed a longer or more complex adventure but the game’s imperfections were a tolerable price to pay, given the rewards of experiencing its hand-crafted world.