Ah, FMV games. Long renowned for being a genre mostly populated by utter rubbish, it has become the latest genre to be revitalised by the fact that you can put pretty much any old crap out on Steam and people will buy it. ‘Her Story’ was the real FMV game success in 2015 but a month earlier Zandel Media released ‘Missing – An Interactive Thriller’ on Steam to positive reviews.
‘Her Story’ received a lot of attention and praise in the media and around the time of its release it was hard to move in gaming circles without hearing about it, ‘Missing’ on the other hand was released without quite the same level of universal acclaim. I stumbled upon quite by accident as part of a, yeah you guessed it, Humble Bundle. My only real previous experience with FMV games (Her Story asides) was with ‘Tex Murphy – Under a Killing Moon’ which I played many moons ago. Funnily enough it was the fact that said Humble Bundle contained the entire Tex Murphy collection that inspired me to get it and resulted in ‘Missing’ being added to my Steam backlog.
So what exactly is ‘Missing’? Well, without giving too much away, you start as a man who is tied up, his hands in locked chains and a key dangling in front of him, just to taunt him. On the nearby door are the words ‘Play with Me’. Frankly I’m not sure what kind of games he’s going to be able to play in this predicament, but never mind.
The first puzzle took me right back to being very young, in the days before I had video games. Yes, the first puzzle is one of those god awful slidey block puzzles, where you have to move blocks about until you can move one into a specific place. It instantly brought back memories of this…
The most intriguing part of this puzzle for me was the way in which your character has to move the blocks around (and does so successfully) despite the fact his hands are both tied up. Strangely enough when you try to get the key straight away he simply can’t manage that. It’s almost like the developers didn’t think the idea through properly…
Once I’d done it I felt quite relieved that it was over with. Imagine my sheer joy later in the game when I got to do another one! In all fairness they weren’t quite that bad, but as puzzles in video games go I’d prefer to be attaching pulleys to rubber chickens.
Anyway moving on, the game itself tells the story of erm…some guy, the game either didn’t mention his game or it was only mentioned briefly, who has seemingly been kidnapped by some lunatic and put in this predicament. The game is instantly reminiscent of the Saw franchise and I had something of a lightbulb moment as I realised how well the Saw movies might actually work as FMV movies (if anybody’s listening, do it!). Unfortunately we never see nor hear anything of the person who has done this. No bizarre puppets on tiny bicycles for you sir! Instead, our antagonist taunts you through messages and pictures which seem to suggest that Mr No.Name isn’t a very good father or husband. Presumably ‘less interesting Jigsaw’ isn’t a big fan of our nameless hero.
After another fairly straightforward puzzle and another FMV clip leave our hero in a predicament we are introduced to our other main character, Detective Lambert, there we get to enjoy a little bit of exploration before returning to he who shall not be named.
Missing was clearly made on a relatively low budget and impressively manages to produce some half decent acting (Star Wars Episode II, eat your heart out) and decent looking backgrounds to explore. The story itself isn’t hugely original or exciting but it did offer enough intrigue to pique my curiosity about the next episode.
The puzzles are probably the weakest point of ‘Missing’. It’s not that they’re not bad, just not particularly inspiring, or exciting. The developer has tried to use quick time events to spice things up and they do a decent enough job of focusing your attention on the game but as is generally the case with QTE’s they end up being a bit of an inconvenience in the end (Although the QTE for drinking coffee and the subsequent achievement? Genius!)
All in all, Missing is a fairly entertaining game and something a bit different to the norm. At £2.79 for a 45 minute (or so) experience with little replay the game is relatively steep and I’d be hard pushed to recommend it outside of a sale or bundle. Due to relatively poor sales the developer has since closed and there will sadly not be a second episode to continue the story and give our unnamed hero some closure.