I'll start by saying that I didn't really enjoy the aiming and shooting in the game, and that's the main reason I'm not playing much further than the tutorial level. I've thought about it and I'm mostly annoyed by the inconsistent hit detection - it's both hard to tell when you are hitting/damaging enemies and some hits that should (might?) have been hits didn't(?) register as such?
Another strange design decision is that when you press a key it immediately skips the text/exposition which otherwise appears slowly on the screen. This is instead of the more common/standard for the 1st keypress to show all of the text at once and the 2nd keypress to continue. So, I missed a lot of story/exposition...
But here's what I think is going on..
You're an agent chasing after the bad guy from Goldfinger. There's something going on in Fort-Knox. So, you rush in...but then a nuke explodes? And you die? But then you decide to work for another bad guy - from another movie. Oh, but you have a special cyber-eye that is supposed to help you see through walls and stuff. So, you're not Bond? Or you are? I'm so confused by all this that it didn't help me want to continue playing either...
I really this game's central conceit - by night you venture into a dungeon for loot that you then sell in your shop by day! With the money you earn you improve your own equipment thus increasing the chances that you'll succeed (go further) in your loot-seeking adventures.
The dungeon-eering part of the game is quite straightforward. It's a "Binding of Isaac"-style roguelike. The dungeons are randomly generated, you run around dodge-rolling and attacking (for now with a sword, but you can unlock other weapons including ranged) and you collect loot that monsters drop (or you find in chests) in a backpack with limited slots/space. Additionally there are some items for which there are restrictions in terms of where they can be placed on your backpack. Obviously if you die you lose (almost) all the loot you've picked up. If you want to bail before you beat the dungeon you have to pay a price in coins - you can't just waltz out the entrance...
The store part consists of you placing items for sale, deciding for what price and then watching punters come in and react to your prices. Too low and they get stars in their eyes, to high and the grumble and so on.
So, you're basically managing what prices to set for things hoping to get enough money such that you can safely bail during your next run while also hopefully saving enough to first unlock shops and then afford to buy the upgrades they sell.
The entire loop is actually explained in the game's manual of all places!
So, I played a few sessions trying to get a feel for the action and mechanics, but ultimately I decided that I simply didn't want to engage with the game on its own terms. Namely, the loop is way too slow for my taste! I didn't really enjoy selling stuff in the store mostly because it takes too long AND there's a lot of trial and error in setting prices that just seems...well, too much for a game (I expected) to be more about the action side of things. It doesn't help that I'm not that good at the action parts of the game - such that my scavenging runs were more improductive than otherwise. Oh, to add more insult - for the upgrades you can buy in stores you need more than cash, but also items! (of the ones you've scavenged) I was just annoyed by the that I had sold (underprice) a bunch of things it turns out I wanted to keep...sigh.
This definitely feels to me like a game that was designed additively - lets add more systems and sub-systems where each works on their own, but the entirety of the game experience simply never gelled for me. More than gelled, it seems like they're competing with each other in terms of their pace. I was just itching to go back into the dungeon, but had to snooze through the store parts, for example.
Finished it! (with a little help from the game...)
I'm really surprised by the diversity of puzzles and puzzle activities, in fact once I finished the game you can engage with lots of them as stand-alone puzzles (with 10 levels each!). So, there is definitely "value" here. The variety of puzzles goes beyond simple variation of "manipulate this to do x" with some of them nicely woven into the game's narrative. For example, I had to tap on some tiles - until I found one that rang hollow! (stuff was hidden behind!), I also had to "scan" my face (from the DS camera) and other things like that. The camera-based puzzles were actually quite wonky. (I spent coins to clear one despite it being a trivial one where all I had to do was place the stylus on a thumbpad on the screen. I don't know if it was that I was playing at night (less light) or that I was on my DSi XL (perhaps camera placement messed up stuff the devs expected?) - but the camera puzzles were definitely the least interesting ones in that they didn't really work.
As for the story? Lots of twists and turns and bla bla bla. Nothing too memorable (for me) but I wonder if there's an earlier game? Was this part of a series? I say that mostly because there's lots that seems implied about the main character....
I was fully expecting this to be a "hidden object" game with a mystery theme - or police procedural theme? Sort of like the James Patterson's Murder Club(?) game I played earlier this year. It definitely started out along those lines - with a request to find a bunch (easily found) objects in an area.
Oh, but things changed rapidly after that!
The game is a bona fide adventure game - find objects, use them on places/things in the environment and solve puzzles. And, so far - half way into the game, the puzzles are actually quite complicated! I had to get paper and pencil to solve a few of them in fact. I'm not sure I'll be able to handle them all because they've been getting quite...uh...obscure.
Also, there have been a few puzzles/mini-games that have used the DS cameras! (the game's case indicates "additional DSi features" which is nice) The minigames didn't work too well - in one I had to "swipe" a mirror by waving in front of the camera (it's a nice visual effect, but it didn't register my hand that well) while in the second I (think) I had to rotate the DS (spin in place) to turn a lever. This second one sort of worked. It was wonky enough that perhaps I was doing it wrong? I'm not sure what the camera was picking up or reacting to but I was able to solve the mini-game after a bit.
The game has both a hint system as well as a "bypass a puzzle" system. The former only works "in the world" and it points you to a the thing you need to use (and where) to make progress - that's when it works. Othertimes it just gives you a hint that's hard to make sense of (especially, I think, when you need to change locations to make progress - which is sometimes hard to tell). The bypass sytem triggers when you've failed a puzzle a few times in a row - you spend 5,000 pts and done. It doesn't actually tell you the solution, it just bypasses the puzzle. It's a nice feature though I wish you could use it from the get go, rather than having to fail a few times. I say this mostly because some puzzles have a long timer on them so it can be a drag to wait it out (especially if you've realized that you have no clue at all what to do).
I'm not sure how much longer I'll continue playing - it's not been too long, but as the difficulty ramps up (and it has!) I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up the (relatively) speedy pace.
Oh, another interesting thing - and I note this because the last detective solving crimes game I played on the DS also had this - the protagonist is a woman!