Neofeud: The Point and Clicky Adventure of a Cybernetic Dude

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Neofeud, developed by Hawaiian writer, artist and game dev Christian Miller (also known as “Silver Spook”), is, as the title suggests, a point and click adventure game set in a dystopic near-future Coastlandia. You play (err, click) as Karl Carbon, a cop that was fired for disobeying an order to shoot an unarmed robotic civilian. Carbon now works as a social worker and you must aid him in his quest to counsel low-lifers and confiscate cybernetic children from their degenerate parents.

Whilst I’m not the target audience for the older styled point and click games of yesteryear, I was drawn to the aesthetic and concept of Miller’s game. The art is a mixture of the unusual, to the retro-chic, and the bizarre. There is something quirky that initially frightened my sensibilities, but left my mouth agape as I delved deeper into the world of Coastlandia. I admire Miller’s patience and dedication for painting every scene, character, and tech-piece. But I must admit, there are times where the screen is jumbled, and I found myself clicking like mad as I tried to pick-up everything that seemed out of place. And nearly everything is out of place.

The soundtrack was another thing that helped draw me into the game. The faux synthetic strings of dial-up tones and electronic stammers lulled me into a calming sense of euphoria. But this was quickly undercut as I recognised that many of the themes were either “heavily” inspired to ripped off from such films such as Blade Runner (specifically Blade Runner Blues). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I wish it wasn’t so blatant. Either way, the soundtrack is mostly sweet to listen to, but that might be because I’m infatuated with anything that features a dial-up tone.

Unfortunately, my positive experience ends there as I really didn’t have an enjoyable time playing Neofued. A point and click adventure title should pride itself on the adventure aspect to excite and further entice the gamer into wanting to play on and on. However, while interesting on paper, playing as a cybernetic social worker is drab. I almost stopped playing the game early on as I was supposed to convince a mutant child into giving me some information about where my personal “consciousness” card fell. After I bribed the girl with some chewing gum, I kind of felt like playing was a chore. This was only further exacerbated when I had to bribe an eerie android rendition of John Connor into giving me his illegal cigarettes.

The story itself is quite hammy and reminiscent of an outsider’s understanding of cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is a genre that subtly examines social conventions through means of showing the reader, viewer, and gamer the world through imagery, sound, and carefully crafted dialogue. Think Black Mirror, for instance. The audience is thrust into an unusual world and forced to piece together the story through imagery and dialogue. This is why Black Mirror is such a rewarding show, for it allows the audience member to be an active participant even though watching is a passive activity. Video gaming should be more active, and I felt like Neofeud wanted to tell me a story, tell me what was right and wrong, and tell me how to play the game. This created a far more passive experience that did not pique my curiosity.

The ham-fisted attempt at social/political discourse was another turn-off, primarily due to the fact that it felt like a forced intrusion. I say this more times than I wish, show don’t tell. I find it unnatural that a corporate CEO would refer to themselves as evil. Show me why I should distrust this person. Show me how the citizens of Coastlandia are being oppressed, don’t just shove in a disgruntled cop that shoots on sight. Using the video game medium to your benefit would have made for a stronger and far richer world should you have used sound and visuals in tandem to aid with your storytelling.

On a more technical level, the game is clunky. The opening menu doesn’t have many features such as screen resolution or a change in quality. I also found the game quite annoying to learn due to this clunkiness. There was no tutorial, which again, is not necessarily bad, but would have saved me some time and some portion of my sanity. It took me a while before I realised that the inventory could be accessed by pointing the cursor towards the top of the screen. It’s not explained, and for a time, I thought I could only access it by glitching the game with the tab button. On that note, the game does glitch often and crashed my laptop at least twice. Notifications also minimise the game, so be sure to play this offline.

I do appreciate that Neofeud is reminiscent of the eighties/nineties point and click adventure games. It is certainly unique in aesthetic and concept, and that is to be commended. Miller does vouch for fifteen hours of gameplay, which can either be more or less depending on how quickly you solve the puzzles. I can’t give this recommendation, but if you really love point and click adventure games, cyberpunk, and quirky art styles, then this might be for you. I’d recommend watching some let’s plays first (two decent ones are played by SmartASCII Gaming and fafafabigben) to see whether this game is for you.

You can check out the game here, and even purchase it on Steam. If you’re interested, you can also read Neofeud—The Short Story Collection which could make for an interesting companion piece to the video game.

Neofeud – 5/10

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