The Act review

The Act review

The Act blends the QTEs and cartoon stylings of Dragon’s Lair with the tone and themes of Carry On. Out with the knights and the damsels; in with a lovesick window cleaner and a sexy nurse. It might have worked, if Dragon’s Lair was a better template. It might have worked if romantic comedy was as easy to construct as fantasy.

The adventure’s built around a simple touch-based interface: swipe to the left to make Edgar, the protagonist, more bashful in his actions, and to the right to make him more strident. In principle, it’s an elegant conceit. In reality, it’s your passport to mild sociopathic horror as you splutter between wary thumb-twiddling and caricatured harassment. Edgar’s meant to be a sweet sort of everyman: a day-dreamer and reluctant hero. Too often, though, he’s a whimsical pervert, as imprecise controls combine with confusing visual feedback to result in a bizarre grinding of emotional gears.

In between the clumsy wooing, there’s some knockabout action to enjoy as you placate angry NPCs, foil attempted lobotomies and engage in a high-speed chase through hospital corridors. Even at its best, though, The Act merely highlights the problems games so often face when they turn players into actors. Celluloid heroics seem a very distant prospect when you’re bumbling through the script with no idea of your lines, and little sense of the marks you’re meant to hit. 

Despite its lunges for the mainstream, in other words, The Act has forgotten one of the most important things about escapist cinema and cartoons: they generally don’t require this much effort.

Tested on iPad.