Developed by Prologue Games and set in deepest, darkest Florida, Knee Deep is an interesting adventure game in the mould of the more recent Telltale Games adventures. You take control of one of three characters as you uncover the truth about the suicide of a washed up actor as he shot a scene of his latest movie. You’re able to watch the action unfold as you make the protagonists decisions for them, with some having more negative outcomes than others. Everything you do has a knock-on effect in the game, so you have to be careful with what you’re doing.
The game is set out in an interesting format, similar to what was done in Detective Case & Clown Bot, this game is played out in front of a ‘live’ studio audience. Instead of you clicking to travel between scenes though, the game handles it much more smoothly, by having the protagonist walk onto a different part of the seemingly endless stage, where a new scene has just that minute been unfolded for them. It’s actually pretty nifty to watch it happen and is definitely a nice way of handling what can often be a bit of a bore to do.
You’ll start out as Romana Teague, a bold and brazen blogger who fortuitously finds herself at “ground zero”, as she calls it, of the suicide, ready to interview the townspeople of Cypress Knee and write about the tragedy they’ve just witnessed. While you do dictate every line she speaks, the lines are very well written and give you a window to Romana’s mind, especially if you choose to be confrontational to everyone. This can have negative effects though, as certain people may not wish to be too kind to you if you’re just harassing them after their boyfriend’s death. Your interactions with the rest of the cast of the game aren’t the only thing that will endear you to, or enrage them. You’re prompted fairly regularly to post blog posts which can have three different and distinct flavours: cautious, edgy or inflammatory. Cautious works well if you want to make friends with everyone except your boss, edgy is the fine balance between being boring and being offensive, and inflammatory is the kind of thing that you’d get shot for. I was pretty surprised after I’d just posted an inflammatory blog post, as I got a pat on the back from my editor, then went in to a diner, where one of the crew members from the ill-fated movie was sitting and had to sit through him berating me because of what I’d posted. Although not entirely realistic as I doubt they would have read it quite that quickly, it was a wonderful little touch that I didn’t see coming.
The other characters you can play are equally as enjoyable while remaining distinctive and memorable and tell the story from three interesting viewpoints. Jack Bellet is a beleaguered reporter who also has access to posting things to his newspaper – instead of having an “inflammatory” option though, he has the rather funny option of “tabloid” which can often lead to some funny stories. The other character is a surly and weathered private investigator, named K.C. Gaddis. He’s a good character and extremely well written and asks some pretty eye-opening questions that can really aid his, and your, investigation.
While that’s all good, there is one thing I wasn’t too big a fan of, and this could just be because it’s in an early, developmental phase. It’s largely silent, which can be terribly off-putting. When the music plays, it’s generally pretty decent and easy to listen to, but it never seems to be playing when there’s a conversation happening. I could understand that if it was fully voiced, as they don’t want the orchestra to interrupt, but as there is no voice acting whatsoever, it seems bizarre to leave so much of the game silent.
Hopefully this will be addressed, as it is an otherwise pretty solid game and very enjoyable. Whether you’re playing as Romana, Jack or Gaddis, you’re going to be thrust into a world with a rich backstory, filled with quirky characters and be forced into making some occasionally uncomfortable decisions. It’s just been greenlit on Steam, so fingers crossed that we’ll see it on the store, and in our libraries in no time at all.