Demetrios - The BIG Cynical Adventure Review

By Rebecca Smith, 4 months ago
Nearly two years ago, Breton Fabrice (otherwise known as COWCAT) took to Kickstarter to fund his new project. His point and click title had actually been finished three years previously, but circumstances meant that it was never released. The budget may have been low, but aided by the success of his Kickstarter campaign, it was enough for the one-man team to quit his job and remake the title. In May 2016, Demetrios - The BIG Cynical Adventure was released on Steam. Despite not making the relevant stretch goals, it was released on Playstation Vita a few months later. Now the title makes it to consoles, simultaneously arriving on Xbox One and Playstation 4. Was it worth the wait? Well, it's a divisive game where the verdict depends on your love of toilet humour.

Demetrios - The BIG Cynical Adventure

Demetrios tells the story of Bjorn Thonen, an "antique" dealer. After getting a little too inebriated at the local pub, he staggers into bed. That night his flat is burgled and Bjorn is assaulted. The police refuse to investigate, so together with his neighbour Sandra and her 8-year-old daughter Caroline, Bjorn sets out to solve the burglary himself. As is usual in adventure games, though, nothing is as it seems and he's drawn into a mysterious tale and a secret that has lain undiscovered for centuries.

While the story may sound like conventional adventure affair, the game tries as hard as it can to be unconventional. At best Bjorn is a lazy slob in both business and home life, at worst he's a stupid con artist trying to sell fake antiques to his customers. Sandra is a mix of the stupid blonde stereotype and the manipulative, two-faced girlfriend you hope you'll never have. The kindest words for Caroline are spoiled brat. All three of the lead characters are repulsive and few of the NPCs are likeable either — all try their hardest to live up to the self-centred nature of the game's title — but then this is the theme of the whole adventure.

This is as pleasant as they'll ever be to each otherThis is as pleasant as they'll ever be to each other

The last thing this game does is take itself seriously. At the very start of the game, you are given the choice as to whether you want to turn on toilet humour and if you do, it is everywhere. From the obvious expletive-riddled character names, lewd clothing and locations that seem like breeding grounds for disease, to more subtle influences like character demeanour, conversations and risque jokes, you can't escape it. If this is something that appeals to you then you'll love the game. If not, there is the option to turn off the toilet humour. Filtering out the humour makes the characters less insufferable and cleans up the environments, but it also makes some of the achievements unobtainable due to the content that is removed.

Throughout the game, the characters are making jibes at each other and the game's many different locations. There are even pot shots taken at the genre as a whole, as well as at unrelated titles like the Uncharted series. The title is intended to be humorous and is very occasionally mildly offensive, but sometimes the humour can miss the mark and become obnoxious instead. This may be a case of "lost in translation" when translating the script from French, especially as there are a few minor spelling issues, or it could just be that things are pushed too far.

No, I don't know what that tower's supposed to be eitherNo, I don't know what that tower's supposed to be either

Story and humour aside, the gameplay follows your typical point & click titles and the basic controls function relatively well. There are plenty of interactive points, some of which offer useful objects or information but most of which are there for decoration. Holding down the X button will show all of the interactive objects within that scene. If you need to look more closely at an area, using the right stick will allow you to zoom in. Items can be combined in your inventory, which can be opened or closed at the touch of a button. Objectives are displayed at the top of the screen alongside special items like the mobile phone, or tasks that require several items to fulfil them.

The puzzles vary from the very basic to more complicated conundrums that require more thought. Some of the puzzles aren't helped by the deceptive "clues" and sometimes lead you to overthinking them. If you get too stuck, the game's clever three-tier hint system will come to the rescue. In the vast majority of the locations, three cookies are hidden and these actually have a purpose. Eating one cookie gives a subtle hint towards the solution. Eating a second cookie makes that hint a bit more obvious. Eating a third cookie gives you the answer. There is never a limit on the number of cookies you can hold at once and players of all abilities will be able to complete the title, even if they'll use a varying number of cookies. Unfortunately the search for the cookies often turns into an annoying pixel hunt for brown dots as they are hidden in some obscure places.

You need to get up to the roof somehowYou need to get up to the roof somehow

To provide a break from the conventional point and click gameplay, mini-games are dotted about to seemingly provide some light relief. The problem is that many of these games are hit and miss. The crane machines accurately represent the frustration of these machines in real life, including their tendency to drop prizes that you thought you'd grabbed. On the other hand, Pet Shoot, where you shoot animals using a fart gun, initially sounds hilarious but becomes irritating when faced with inaccurate hit detection and an inconsistent flow of targets, leaving you uncertain of whether you've been successful enough. On the whole, though, these mini-games are one of the few low points of the title.

The cookies are the first type of collectible, but there is a second type, too: game overs. There are 68 different ways to get yourself killed, hurt or arrested. Other than needing them for several achievements, their only purpose is to provide some light relief. If you get one of these game overs, you won't lose much progress in the game; in fact, you'll be placed straight back into the scenario that led to Bjorn's demise in the first place. The game overs are represented as pages from a comic book, each with their own witty caption. They adopt a similar style to the game's cutscenes, which are always depicted as comic book pages. This way, they don't include any voice acting or animation, therefore allowing the game's budget to stay relatively low.

The first of manyThe first of many

Speaking of the achievements, there is a varied spread of objectives for earning all of them. There are six unmissable story achievements, each tied to finishing one of the game's six chapters. You'll need to find all of the cookies and consume ten of them. Bear in mind that if you miss one or more of these in a playthrough, your in-game progress is reset upon starting a new save file or restarting a chapter. Fortunately the achievement only requires you to collect 114 cookies — they can be the same cookies on multiple saves if necessary. There are also eight achievements tied to the mini-games as well as several tied to finding all of the game overs. Unlike the cookies, game over progress is cumulative and chapter select can easily be used to find any you may have missed. Finally, there are nine achievements tied to random missable actions, usually to do with being an idiot.

Summary

Demetrios - The BIG Cynical Adventure is a low budget point and click title that relishes in being unconventional. Its characters try their hardest to be cynical and toilet humour is everywhere, even if it pushes the boundaries a bit too far at times. Despite this, the title's storyline and its gameplay are extremely conventional and functional. The puzzles vary in difficulty but there's always the clever cookie hint system to help things along if you get stuck. Even if the mini-games are hit and miss, players of all abilities will be able to make it to the end as long as you can stomach it. If you take offence easily and you're just after another easy completion, avoid this one like the plague. If you appreciate risque jokes and silly humour, this point and click will be the equivalent of a breath of fresh air for you.
3.5 / 5
Positives
  • Toilet humour will amuse some...
  • Solid point and click gameplay
  • Great hint system makes the game suitable for all abilities
Negatives
  • ... but won't appeal to others at all
  • Mini games are hit and miss
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent eight hours trying to retrieve a stolen tablet. She then had to go back for another few hours to think of multiple ways to die, but by doing this she earned all of the game's 36 achievements. An Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.
Rebecca Smith
Written by Rebecca Smith
Rebecca is the Newshound Manager at TrueGaming Network. She has been contributing articles since 2010, especially those that involve intimidatingly long lists. When not writing news, she works in an independent game shop so that she can spend all day talking about games too. She'll occasionally go outside.