The Descendant Episode 1 |Aftermath
Gaming Corps AB
I’ve always been a big fan of post-apocalyptic settings. I’ve read many books, watched all sorts of films, and even played a few role-playing games (geek alert!) set in post-apocalyptic backdrops, for good or for worse. There is just something about end-of-the-world scenarios that I find fascinating.
Maybe it’s the realization that in the wake of some catastrophic event, your life has been changed forever and that there is no going back to the familiarity and comfort of what you knew before. The survival aspect is also interesting—how would you behave when faced with having to scavenge for food and clean drinking water?
What if you got the drop on some unsuspecting person for instance? Would you approach them and try to work out some sort of trade? Would you attempt to stealthily pilfer supplies from them? Or would you bushwhack them and take what’s “rightfully yours?” There are all sorts of ethical dilemmas that present themselves in these sorts of environments.
I’ve noticed that post-apocalyptic narratives usually fall in to one of three distinct categories. The first one is where some sort of calamitous event happens and we see the direct aftermath of said event, as in the World War Z franchise. The second type is where the event has already transpired and we learn about the world soon after the catastrophe. And the third is perhaps the most intriguing (to me at least), which describes a reality far removed (time-wise) from whatever happened that triggered the apocalyptic event.
Gaming Corps AB’s The Descendant Episode 1 | Aftermath is a narrative-driven point and click post-apocalyptic adventure set in the latter. In this nightmarish world, a series of unfortunate events, including the collapse of geo-political relations; environmental negligence; and highly destructive warfare technology, all culminated in the end of the world as we knew it.
Fortunately, some bright folks had the foresight to plan ahead, and constructed gigantic underground “Arks,” similar to the Fallout series’ sprawling nuclear fallout bunkers. The plan was to cryogenically freeze four thousand lucky individuals who would be awoken when the world was once again habitable. In charge of ensuring that these massive containment facilities would remain functional and safe were custodial figures known as janitors.
The Descendant Episode 1 begins some time after the awakening of the people within the Arks, and you start off playing as Donnie, one of the janitors. For some reason or another, Ark 1 never opened, and Donnie has to find out why. As the story progresses, you’ll quickly learn that the game is actually split into two separate narratives with different timelines.
One story involves Donnie’s quest to find out what happened with Ark 1 and the other is played long before that through the eyes of a janitor named Mia, who is accompanied by another janitor, Silas. I won’t spoil anything here but I will say that Mia and Silas’ narrative takes place centuries before that of Donnie’s, and the pacing and structure of both storylines had all of the right hooks and dramatic pacing (and cliffhangers) to keep me intrigued throughout the entire game.
The game itself is typical of a Telltale series game—lots of walking around and exploring things, interacting with objects and collecting clues, and talking with different characters. Depending on the choices you make while engaged in conversation with people, will determine the outcome of how things play out in the future. I’ve always liked this sort of dialogue choosing mechanic, as it makes one carefully ponder their decisions before making them, and this factor really lends itself to a real sense of immersion within that particular story and its setting.
By placing each decision square in the player’s hands, you are given the ultimate say-so as to how the story will play out, and these often have many unforeseen consequences. There are also some fun quick-time events thrown in to ratchet up the drama, just as in the Telltale series, but they never seem forced in The Descendant Episode 1, and fit each particular situation with ample aplomb.
The visuals in The Descendant Episode 1 are certainly serviceable—they’re not super-impressive, nor were they meant to be. In fact, they fit this sort of narrative-driven game quite nicely. Don’t get me wrong, they do look great on a decent gaming PC, especially the well-rendered and atmospheric backdrops. They actually look lived-in, and really serve to draw you into the world and its spooky proceedings.
In all, I found The Descendant Episode 1 to be an excellent adventure gaming experience. After completing it in a little over an hour, instead of feeling gypped, I realized that it was more of a setup for what is to come, rather than a full-fledged affair. It gave me enough of a taste as to what the game is about (a tasty one at that), while not overwhelming me with too much all at once.
The dual-thread storytelling could have ended up feeling convoluted and encouraging lots of head scratching. But instead, Gaming Corps AB has kept the pacing taut and the plotlines both focused and intriguing. Any gamers who are into adventure games, well-paced mysteries, and good writing and voice acting in general, should check out The Descendant Episode 1. I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens next in this new and exciting series, so stay tuned for my review of Episode 2. Until then, happy gaming!
The Descendant Episode 1 has great visuals which describe a dreary futuristic reality. In order to get the most out of them you may want to invest in a decent gaming PC:
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