Ceville Review (PC)

Being a games journalist isn’t always about your Mass Effects and your Grand Theft Autos... while the triple A titles naturally take up most of our attention, there are always those smaller games, those less well known titles that deserve our attention. Obviously we can’t get to them all, and there are always specialised publications for that sort of thing anyway, but we try our best. And so we present you to Ceville, a debut title from a small development company based out of Germany.

First thing you ought to know, Ceville is an... odd game. Harking back to the days of the old school 2D adventure point & click games, Ceville is at its core a series of areas, filled puzzles and obstacles, linked to a story. An arguably outdated formula, but it was a classic back in the day, and older gamers with memories of those early days might appreciate the nostalgia. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was popular with the kids either.

You will meet some... “Interesting” people in your travels.
The implications of a crane in a pre-industrial society are staggering...

The story itself is probably the most unique aspect about it. Ceville, the main character, the ruler of the Kingdom in the land of Faeryanis, is a tyrant of short stature who for years basked in the glow of obscene wealth and arbitrary powers. As the game begins, you are going through some affairs of state when it transpires that the people have revolted. This early part of the game serves as a tutorial, as the puzzles are easy and your escape from the castle introduces you to various gameplay elements. The rest of the game pretty much revolves around the player assisting the deposed tyrant in getting this thrown back from the more benign Queen Gwendolyn, and the evil and deceitful Basilius, who plans to kill Gwendolyn and take the throne for himself with the aid of evil monsters.

That in itself is not what makes the story unique however; A deposed king, an evil advisor trying to grab things for himself... these are all clichés of what you could call the ‘Disney’ story formula. What’s interesting however is that essentially you are helping to bring about the lesser of two evils. Ceville, whilst a typical tyrant, is still preferably to Basilius who is actually evil. It’s an interesting moral grey area to set a game in, and I think the general concept could be put to good use in say, a high-profile RPG. It certainly would be a break from the classic Good vs. Evil formula that you often see.

Ambrosius, the third musketeer. Don’t get me started on him...
The environments are as varied as they are colourful.

Ceville isn’t alone in his adventures however. Early on in the game he is befriended by Lilly, an intelligent yet naive girl who helps Ceville under the belief that he can be reformed, and can become a ruler more akin to the likes of Gwendolyn. Most of the game is spent controlling one or the other, sometimes both at the same time, and the player must utilise the two in order to proceed through the game. A third character called Ambrosius, a rather pompous and slightly incompetent paladin, is also present, however you don’t directly control him as much as the other two. Together, this misfit musketeer outfit travel all over Faeryanis as they all help Ceville’s quest to get his throne back. Whether or not that will turn out to be a good thing is for you to find out.

The world of Faeryanis, whilst nothing special, is never the less rich and colourful in terms of design and denizens. Ceville features a lot of humour in the form of smarmy back and forth dialogue between Lilly and Ceville, however the extra supporting characters contribute their own unique dialogue and portray a uniqueness that helps enrich the story as a whole. It’s not a consistent ride through-out, but the awkward parts are few and far between, unless you count the cheese-factor of the comedy.

Visually, Ceville is sound. All the areas are rendered well, with few, if any, graphical glitches. You could even call it competitive with today’s standard. The style is typically comic and fairytale-like, with exaggerated objects and surroundings, cartoony caricatures, and quirky settings. There are subtle hints of ambient activity in the backgrounds, and the environments give off the right mood.

Ceville’s throne room. Do you think he is compensating for something?
Ceville and Lilly will often travel together, and many puzzles require the both of them to solve.

As far as games go, it’s not the most challenging. Even back in the day, you would get adventure games that really made you think. Ceville however doesn’t require too much thought, and while there may be a few head scratching moments, overall it is a bit of a breeze to complete. Perhaps a ‘safe’ choice on behalf of the developers, as they probably wouldn’t want a game whose difficulty factor put people off, but if you still like playing these sort of games anyway, then you’ll make sure you’ll see it through to the end. It’s not a long game, with about 12 -15 hours of gameplay, so you might want to make sure you find a cheap deal somewhere, as it doesn’t exactly have tons of replayability.

All in all though, Ceville is a light-hearted, easy going adventure that pays homage to the games of old. Hardcore fans of the genre will most likely feel right at home, and the difficulty factor, plus helpful tool tips will mean that even newcomers will find it easy to get into. That being said however, with the current triple A titles focusing on more modernized genres and settings, it’s unlikely that this game will garner a big audience, especially outside of Germany. Still, it’s a good enough game, and there have been worse overall titles, debut or not, to grace our desks.

Top Game Moment: The dialogue between the two main characters can, at times, be quite funny...



By JustCommunication (SI Core) on Mar 24, 2009
I have to say, this was a bit of an odd game. Fun I suppose, but odd none-the-less. Definitely one for fans of the genre.
By twking (SI Veteran Newbie) on Mar 28, 2009
Im going to try the demo first, hope its good.
By Evmeister (SI Newbie) on Apr 17, 2009
Last game i played in this age old genre was made in the windows 95 era, it was the pirates game and the castle game, fun to say the least though.