Boryokudan syndicate agents watch my every move as I relinquish my weapon and enter the futuristic criminal lair. In a dank room, the mob boss smugly reclines behind his desk. “I know everybody in this city, and I don't know you,” he begins. Over the course of our meeting (a culmination of carefully-chosen dialog options), I win his trust, convince him that I'm a crooked cop (a lie) and agree to find the Boryokudan's missing drug shipment in exchange for information on Center 7, the off-world criminal reconditioning facility holding my brother. There isn't a lot of tension to this exchange—it can only play out one way—but the rich atmosphere and minimalist art style lets my imagination fill in the blanks with personal fears while brilliant sound design and thrilling sci-fi storytelling keeps me engrossed in a way I've never experienced in a point-and-click adventure game.
Dead set on fulfilling every detective fantasy you've ever had, Gemini Rue is chock full of hard-boiled drama. One moment I'm in a shootout, hopping fences and shooting locks to escape danger; the next, I'm reading strangers' mail to track down a lead. And when I click a portrait icon in the corner of my screen, and I'm instantly whisked halfway across the galaxy into Gemini's concurrent storyline, told from the perspective of another character who must escape the Center 7 detention facility. Switching characters at will is a blessing when a puzzle has you stumped, and M. Night Shyamalan could learn a thing or two from the resulting narrative twist.
Most times, Rue's low-res but beautiful art style aggressively tugs on your nostalgic heartstrings. Other times, those dastardly fat pixels are the bane of your existence, obscuring what should be easy solutions. Case in point: in one scene I'm trapped, with my hands bound and feet dangling. The only thing that's missing is a death laser inching towards my crotch and a cackling super villain—that, and something to cut these ropes with before I'm murdered to death! Of course, I could use my feet to grab the tile shard I need to free myself, I just can't distinguish it from the rest of the pixelated jumble of junk that clutters the floor.
The only other major gripe I can level against Rue is its save system. During several stretches of gameplay, you inexplicably can't save, and there's no indication when you're entering a no-save zone.
It's redeemed, though, by its mature narrative, which I wouldn't be embarrassed to describe aloud in public—it questions human nature and what defines a person, rather than dwelling on cartoon humor or boobs. Rue is a gem for treating us like adults, and it's an experience that any adventure gamer should be proud to add to their collection.
An exciting, surprising and thought-provoking adventure rendered in a beautiful art style. Gemini Rue earns respect.