Chimeras – Tune of Revenge

I’m still not sure what this game has to do with the mythical beast Chimera. I mean, Tune of Revenge I get but just because there’s a single chimera statue in the game, doesn’t really justify the title.

Another Elephant Games game so shortly after the last one? Don’t you normally switch developers after each game?

Yes, I do. I’m amazed you noticed that. Under normal circumstances I usually switch developers after each game because otherwise I tend to notice a lot more trends and let them bother me in ways that I shouldn’t. It’s happened with Eipix in the past and I started noticing similar things when I played a lot of Artifex Mundi games.

But this game has been on my list for so long it was starting to annoy me. Every time I decide to play, something else popped up or I just don’t feel like playing it at that point or my computer inevitably breaks down or my external harddrive… you know, the usual things. You’d be surprised how much computer troubles I’ve been having. Anyway, I decided it was finally time to play… the game!

Chimeras: Tune of Revenge
(Elephant Games, 2012)

When you arrive in the small town of Graysand, hell has broken loose. Mythical creatures have sprung to life and are killing people indiscriminately. Or are they? There’s a pattern to the madness, a pattern that originates from an event 13 years ago when an organ grinder died under suspicious circumstances and the town covered it up. Now it appears he’s back to take his revenge on the people that had a hand in his death.

This would probably have made a better Halloween game than Halloween Stories. It’s absolutely loaded with classic monsters and they take a pretty central role in the story as you run around defeating them. Hell, there’s even a very Dracula-esque vampire at one point and you deal with dragon and destroy a golem. In other words, there’s a lot of things here that I immediately connect with Halloween. Aka, monsters.

And not just in shitty collectible form either. But an actual part of the story.

But enough about this. This isn’t a Halloween game and just because I played it in close proximity of my favorite holiday of the year shouldn’t impact the game.

Luckily it doesn’t. Not much, anyway. Maybe a tiny bit.

The game looks great. Just to try and avoid that thorny issue of me being biased because it’s Halloween. It’s less colorful than I typically prefer and it is a pretty standard palate of greens and blues and yellows but it works for this type of game for the most part.

I also found the 3D animations to be a step above what I’m used to in HOPA and especially from Elephant Games who normally don’t go as much in with these types of animations. Sure, most of them were simple and rudimentary but you gotta start somewhere and most HOPA studios avoid this entirely. Sadly, the same can’t be said for their 2D animations. For whatever reason these always bug me in Elephant Games’ games, never looking quite crisp or smooth enough.

I would’ve liked the monsters themselves to have a bit more flair to them. Medusa was just a bore, honestly, and outside of the Lich and the Dragon, none really stood out. And they weren’t particularly scary either since most of them were quite passive and never posed a threat to the protagonist.

I also found them to be… loosely connected to the plot rather than integral. Some of them were a bit of a stretch and they were pretty straight forward in what they were there for. You’d think a revenge plot would be a bit more sadistic but they mostly just… killed their victims. Where was the SAW-element? Why wasn’t the gravedigger buried alive, for instance? The man who threw the killing stone, surely being pelted by stones until death would be satisfactory… or, better yet, being turned into stone! I know that was Medusa’s thing but still!

Let’s get mythical with these punishments, people! Prometheus stole fire from the gods and as revenge had his liver pecked out by an eagle every day for eternity. Now that’s punishment!

But outside of a bit drab color scheme, I think the game did really well in terms of design and pulling your eyes towards important areas. In some cases I found myself a bit confused as to where I was supposed to go and be but the game was also rather large and if you weren’t paying attention, it was easy to forget that an area that you’d already gone through had an element still unfinished.

In this regard I do enjoy the game a great deal, it never closed areas off behind you so it didn’t feel like I was being pulled by the hand somewhere. Hell, even the map itself, which normally points out where there are things you can do right now, only pointed out ONE thing you could do right now. This confused me at first and I thought “The game must be broken.” but I came to appreciate it as it meant I still had to apply some thought where items had to go. Otherwise you’d be stuck jumping from point to point, doing whatever the game said you could do which didn’t necessarily mean you could fully complete a task at that time OR that it was the task you needed to do to progress.

This is something I’ve said before and I’ll say again, I do like this to a certain degree. It makes it feel much more like an old adventure game, this going around, trying to figure out what goes where and what steps you have to take next. More of this, please! I love the roaming around as long as it’s not taken to extreme levels.

I also liked the antagonist though I was rather hoping there was some additional twist to it that somehow tied into the Chimera title. Like, maybe it wasn’t the organ grinder who was really back but a malevolent force that called itself Chimera or something to that degree. Something to really build a franchise around rather than maybe a statue shows up at some point in the game. Could be it ties better into the franchise later on but… yeah, that whole Chimera thing bugged me.

And may I point out that “organ grinder” is far more gruesome job title than it has to be? Like, when I first heard it I thought “Well, he did grind organs to dust, maybe he deserved it?” Obviously the organ refers to the instrument, not the body parts but still.

Maybe the story does get just a little too sappy towards the end and the extra chapter, included in the Collector’s Edition, just sugar coated and tied everything together a bit too neatly for my taste. Perhaps they weren’t planning on making a franchise out of this, after all it did take them three years to make the next game in the series, but I still prefer it when games leave at least something unresolved to build on for the next installment. It’ll be interesting to see how they continue the franchise.

My favorite aspect of the game, however, were the puzzles. At least quite a few of them. Some of them came a little too close to just an unnecessarily complicated lock and others were closer to minigames than puzzles. And they weren’t necessarily groundbreaking. But some of them sure did up the challenge quite a bit and I thank them for it. Even typical jigsaw puzzles were a bit of a challenge simply because they used very oddly shaped pieces which took a bit more to get used to.

The Bonus Content included Bestiary puzzles and they were supreme fun since the jigsaw pieces were extremely oddly shaped. Once you wrap your head around it, usually a few puzzles in, it got easier but at first I did find myself just shuffling the pieces around, trying to figure out what to look for which, again, was a lot of fun.

Some puzzles did need clearer instructions, maybe, but overall I found the puzzles, for the most part, quite enjoyable.

Sadly the same cannot be said for the hidden object scenes. As you may have noticed, I haven’t used a single screenshot of hidden object scenes throughout the review. I normally do try to take varied screenshots of everything but a part of me got so wrapped up in playing the game I forgot in huge parts to do that. Except when it came to the hidden object scenes, I simply found them a tremendous bore.

They weren’t bad by any stretch of the word but they weren’t particularly good either. It felt far more like padding than usual and they didn’t have that… Elephant Games flair that many of their games had in 2012. And I can’t believe I’m saying this but I miss how you, in the past, needed to use items from your inventory in hidden object scenes in order to complete them. I used to HATE this so much but now I feel myself growing nostalgic for it.

One thing I have to commend them for, though, is how they chose to convey the story. Yes, the game is loaded with cutscenes that look a bit… “meh” with their animations. But it seems they also knew this because instead of being forced to sit through poorly animated people talking, they delivered a lot of the narrative through, what I like to call “story book cutscenes”.

I greatly prefer this approach if the animations aren’t up to scratch because it pulls me out of the game a lot less than janky animations. They also did these sequences really well, the narrator surprisingly well acted, even if I didn’t necessarily like the voice myself, and the “pages” were really well drawn, giving you the perfect picture book feeling.

They also reduced the dialog to just a narrated text box and a picture of whoever was supposed to do the talking. Again, I much prefer this to low-grade animations that really just make the people feel… off. Again, pulling you out of the game.

So, for once I actually come down on the “Recommended” side without any real objections for an Elephant Games game. I’ve always been on shaky grounds with Elephant Games, hating them in the past for their… well, sometimes odd yet strangely conventional design. But these days, when most HOPA strive more for a cinematic feel, Elephant Games’ games feel strangely old school and comforting.

But then this game was fairly old (five years might as well be half a century in HOPA time) so who knows what their new games look li- oh wait!

Kidding, aside, I do recommend Chimera: Tune of Revenge, weird title and janky animations and all. It’s, simply put, a good game.

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