One of the more unique demos I had at E3 2012 was for an iOS game called The Act. More of an interactive cartoon than a game, The Act features hand drawn style animation centered around a story that’s kind of what Leisure Suit Larry may have been if its creator, Al Lowe, had been French. It’s a wonderful experience, but you’ll want to get it now while it’s on sale.
What is it?
The Act tells the store of Edgar, a hapless window washer who falls for a nurse inside the hospital outside of which he’s working. When his sleepy brother gets inside and falls asleep in the bed of a patient about to have brain surgery, Edgar must sneak into the hospital to save him, and hopefully win Sylvia’s heart along the way.
How does it work?
The Act is all about making your move. Hand drawn animation segments are broken up by interactive elements in which you slide your finger left/right on the screen to move Edgar. Whether you’re trying to woo Sylvia, buddy up with doctors, give your boss the Heimlich maneuver, etc., it’s a balance of knowing when to move forward and when to pull back.
The game often gives you hints (Sylvia will turn towards you when she’s ready for an advance, a patient will back away when you seem uneasy using a stethoscope), but you’ll work your way through most of the game via trial and error. If you move too fast or too slow, the scene will end and you’ll go back to the beginning of it.
After three attempts, the game asks if you want to continue and places you right back where you were, so I’m not sure I understand why it bothers with the three attempts to begin with.
One level plays a bit differently, as you must quickly guide a gurney through a twisting, crowded hallway in order to push your brother away from the operating room and to safety. It’s an action-packed break from the otherwise subtle gameplay, even if it does come too close to the end.
Is it contagious?
Yes, but only for a preciously brief time. The Act is very short. Without restarts, you could easily play through the whole game in less than half an hour. And because it’s story-based, there’s little incentive to play through again just to get fewer restarts. As such, you should check out The Act right now while it’s on sale $0.99 (normally $2.99).
It’s a charming game with engaging characters, a fun story and wonderful animation, but it’s over far too quickly. Room for a sequel, perhaps? One can hope.