The first episode of Missing: An Interactive Thriller really took me by surprise, the game is in many respects a throwback to the earlier days of PC and console gaming, before the rise of the polygon, when FMV was still the best way to convey a story in a ‘realistic’ way. It feels almost like the developers decided to pick up where those early-to-late 90’s games left off and just carry on, a decision I can’t say I’m entirely disappointed with.
You play as David Newcastle, a man who has been kidnapped and is struggling to escape so he can find his family. In-game the story is pretty light, not much is really explained (I even had to check the steam store page blurb to learn the character’s surname) but there are hints as you play – messages daubed on the wall for the character to read, photos of his family, even one puzzle solution is a hint.
Gameplay consists of watching an FMV sequence followed by a simple (though quite challenging) puzzle related to what you’ve just seen, this then leads to more FMV then back to a puzzle. Rinse and repeat till the game is over. You do also have a few moments during one or two of the FMV sequences where you have to complete quick-time events; though I don’t think I failed any of these I didn’t get the sense that messing up these sequences would result in a gameover screen.
I’ll say right off the bat the first thing that struck me about this game is how pretty it is – which seems a really odd thing to say about an FMV game; but yeah, I was struck by how good the game looks in general. The actual video segments look really well shot, and there’s a smooth transition between that footage and the actual gameplay.
The gameplay is fun, very simple though. The harder puzzles may take you anywhere from ten to twenty minutes to figure out, the shorter ones are figured out in under a minute; you do also have the short interactive quick-time events during one or two of the FMV sequences that I mentioned earlier as well. Like I said before I’m not too sure how much those quick-time events really effect the outcome of the game, whether you can fail or not because of them, but I did enjoy their inclusion.
My only real issues with the game are how obtuse the puzzles seemed (at least to me) and it’s length. The game isn’t that long, so there aren’t too many to really comment on but the puzzles as a whole seemed to rely on brute forcing to work out the answer a little too much for my liking, or random answers hidden in the environment which you just have to stumble upon. I don’t think the game did this particularly badly, quite the opposite, it was all done really well, I just would’ve preferred something a little more cerebral and less about pixel-hunting.
Second issue, as I mentioned, is the game’s length. This game is incredibly short – we’re talking between 30 minutes to maybe an hour of gameplay at most, which really doesn’t feel like enough content for a single episode of anything to me despite the very reasonable price. Though I did enjoy what I played, and am looking forward to playing future episodes, I think I would’ve been drawn in further if there’d been more to play.
Overall I really enjoyed the first episode of ‘Missing: An Interactive Thriller’, I mentioned in the intro to the review those early FMV games that Missing reminds me so much of and I really can’t help but feel this is the best way to introduce the game to someone. I feel like Missing takes that sort of early 90’s FMV game experience, cuts away some of the clunkier elements, streamlines it a little and then adds some nice touches from modern games to keep the player feeling engaged.
Missing feels like the right way to do a modern FMV game, and though the length of this first episode is an issue I have to say despite that what I played has me really looking forward to more. This is a really competently made, relatively simple game that I think fans of old-school FMV games will want to take a look at.