Preview

The Next BIG Thing Preview (PC)

Calling your upcoming game The Next Big Thing is surely setting yourself up for a fall - unless, you know, it turns out that it is indeed the next big thing. Madrid-based developer Pendulo Studios may well have realised this, and has injected the experience with a whole lot of crazy. It's all rather... disconcerting.

The Next Big Thing is a point-and-click adventure game that follows the story of Liz Allaire and Dan Murray, two reporters for a local newspaper who don't get on all that well. Dan is rude, lazy, and loves sports a bit too much, while Liz is... well, slightly mental. And by slightly, we meant completely coo-coo crazy.

Liz Allaire - completely gormless, completely amazing

Every single line that comes out of Liz's mouth either makes no sense, or is utterly off-topic. She has clearly lost one too many marbles, and her mind will wander off and focus on something completely irrelevant to the current topic. She also lacks any kind of common sense, always underestimating how much trouble she is in, and never stopping to consider what she is about to say before letting it leave her lips.

In fact, Miss Liz Allaire is the main reason we enjoyed our Next Big Thing preview so much. Her dialogue, while hopelessly off the rails, is genuinely entertaining and humourous, and we found ourselves purposely checking out every item in each room just to see what her response was.

Her conversation skills are the real pull. Muttering these crazies to herself is one thing, but conversing with another person is where the real fun begins. Her 'victims' reactions to her random witterings are brilliant, and it makes you wonder why no-one has suggested she visit the loony bin.

While Liz's outrageousness makes The Next Big Thing most definitely worth experiencing, it also has a negative effect, in that other parts of the game feel incredibly tame in comparison. When you take control of Dan Murray, within minutes you're wishing for Liz to appear back on the scene. Dan is a rather dull character, with a yawn-worthy personality to match.

Does anything about this scene make sense? Brilliantly, no

The duo's world does a good job of making up for Dan's shortcomings, however. There's a surreal mix of regular settings and not-of-this-world characters - it feels as if we're in the future, but certain elements and character have been frozen in time. We've got a present day mansion and old school car, yet there are alien-like creatures who the main human characters treat as norm, and small robots who have feelings and can get drunk.

There are also plenty more elements that make us question what space in time we're currently residing in. People greet each other with a friendly 'Ayo', and say goodbye with 'Aya', and there is a strange plant/dog animal that makes no sense whatsoever. The mystery behind the setting is fascinating, and we hope that Pendulo Studios never reveals where and when we are, keeping us guessing.

The gameplay itself is your standard adventure gaming affair - pick up this, combine with that, use over there, talk to this person etc. Progression is tracked through an interesting flow chart style of presentation, with all your current missions linking together to show what needs to be done next.

Combining this with the useful magnifying glass ability means the next solution is always close at hand. Clicking the magnify button, the game will present you will everything that you can interact with in the current room - this proves incredibly handy, especially in the larger areas.

It's not that Liz revels in danger - she's just too empty-headed to know what it looks like

Vistually, The Next Big Thing is a treat on the eyes, with a smooth cel-shaded look throughout. Some of the animation can be a little cack-handed now and again, but in general it's lovely to watch in action. Fortunately, accessibility trumps looks, and you won't have to walk your heroes tramping around the place - double-clicking anywhere will cause them to immediately teleport straight there.

As far as adventure gaming goes, The Next Big Thing is one to watch out for. It turns the crazy up to 11, and gameplay flows along as a pleasing rate. We can't wait to hear more of Liz Allaire's life anecdotes and random thoughts when the game is released for PC on March 25th.

Most Anticipated Element: We want to hear more of Liz's inner thoughts.

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