Point and touch games are fairly popular, and when I saw The Passenger Episode 1 for 99 cents, I picked it up. The gorgeous hand drawn graphics and puzzling nature initially attracted me to the game as this isn’t normally my area of gaming expertise. I took the dive though, and, well, I’m now awaiting Episode 2 for more than one reason.
If you’ve ever played Braid, The Passenger has the same graphic art style which is simply amazing. The game opens and periodically plays small movie clips to fill you in on the back story of our hero, The Passenger. From there, you hop off the train and walk around finding and investigating clues. Instead of having a first-person view of the room, this mystery game lets you see the character and direct him around the environment. It can become a little easy because The Passenger highlights what is interactive and what you can do with the items.
The Passenger’s gameplay is similar to The Secret of Grisly Manor or, if you’re more PC inclined, Machinarium. The point and touch adventure is easy and casual enough that anyone can get sucked in with the right amount of imagination, and The Passenger looks to take hold of that theme. With its somber atmosphere and gray but amazingly vivid color palette, the story is set up perfectly for an unknown Passenger on a train whose family has left him behind. This first episode doesn’t give too much away, but it leaves you wondering what might happen, and that’s great for an episodic story/game. Finally, the music revels in the rain soaked train station pavement. Half-dozing with one hand in pocket and your eyes closed, you can imagine, just from the music, the setting of The Passenger.
The Passenger is more than a polished game, but I think the developers overlooked how short this game is. There are only 5-6 puzzles in this game, and they are not difficult enough to leave you stumped and thereby extending the game. The most extensive part is actually making the Passenger walk to and from different environs and objects. Luckily, you don’t have to travel back and forth, but even with the small environments, it felt like it took our hero far too long to cross the room.
I am staunchly of the opinion that $0.99 for a game that can give you hours of satisfaction is nothing. Even if you get a dud of a game, you can’t be too upset. So while I feel The Passenger was far too short, even for a point and touch game, seeing the beautiful style of the game was worth the price of admission. If you love games like Grisly Manor, Aurora, or Amnesia, you will like this game. The Passenger doesn’t have a lot of substance, but it’s simply too pretty to pass up.