It’s safe to say that point and click adventure games are - and mostly have been - something of a rarity on console, let alone the PlayStation 4. Discounting remasters, only eight point and click adventure titles have been released on the the console (according to Wikipedia, anyway), varying from the high of Broken Age to the low of Goosebumps: The Game. Yes, that actually exists.
So one-man developer COWCAT has found a gap in the market for Demetrios - The BIG Cynical Adventure to fit in. Focusing mostly on humour and its titular cynicism, it tells the story of Bjorn Thonen, an antiques dealer in Paris who was robbed in the night after receiving a warning via a mysterious phone call. God knows that everyone needs a laugh from time to time as games get grittier and grittier, but is Demetrios good enough to tickle both our funnybones and our fancies?
Despite its valiant attempts at witty humour, the jokes in Demetrios are largely hit and miss. Occasionally there are some excellent punchlines that put a smile on your face, but for the most part there’s a lot of straw-clutching. Each screen of the game is full of items that Bjorn comments on upon clicking them, but these comments largely hit the same beats.
The main joke seems to be that Bjorn is a lazy slob, and even with the (thankfully provided) toilet humour slider in the gameplay options off, the game’s humour is mostly based around things that you’ve most likely heard before. Sometimes - especially in a portion of the game that takes place abroad - there seem to be some outright offensive attempts at humour that leave a sour taste. To try and make an entire, ten-hour long game consistently funny is admirable, but it really hasn’t worked in Demetrios’ case.
Characters are essential for a compelling point and click game, too, but again COWCAT falls short on this front. Bjorn is a genuinely unlikable deadbeat who you can’t root for, his neighbour Sophia is a dumb blonde stereotype, her daughter Caroline is simply plain evil, and for some reason most of side characters in the game want to either kill you or lock you up for the slightest wrong move. There are quite a few awkward Afro-Carribean stereotypes thrown in too, exaggerated speech and all.
This hurts the gameplay experience even more, as Demetrios is an incredibly text-heavy title. With no voice actors - instead, catchy and peppy music plays and changes depending on your location - you’ll be mashing X plenty of times when playing. It does often become a slog thanks to the questionable humour and oftentimes oddly-paced plot, plus the fact that Bjorn has frequent conversations and likes to comment on virtually everything around him.
While the walls of text certainly aren’t pretty to look at, Demetrios’ graphics certainly are. The art style is vibrant and just cartoony enough to be charming, but it’s also semi-surreal in a way. Though the characters are often weirdly shaped and constructed, the offbeat nature of the game works well with it.
Despite the title's quirky nature overall, the gameplay is very conventional for a point and click release. Mostly you’ll be clicking all over each area in search of items to help you, trading them for favours with the game’s characters. The puzzles are both fun and difficult, offering just the right amount of challenge to boggle your mind. If you ever get stuck, you can eat cookies to give you hints, which is a good system that prevents frustration. Three of said cookies are hidden in each location of the game, but they’re often so well hidden that you’ll be checking every pixel for one, which does get a bit tedious.
Demetrios is a valiant effort from one-man developer COWCAT at reviving the witty point and click adventure game, but ultimately its selling point - the humour - is its downfall. The gameplay is fun and puzzling, the graphics are quirky, and occasionally the dialogue does get a giggle, but the characters are too unlikable and the jokes too obnoxious to make all ten hours (a good amount for a game of this genre) enjoyable.