The modern resurgence of the point-n’-click genre has lead to a number of inspired productions coming from all corners of the industry. It’s easy to pick out Telltale Games’ groundbreaking The Walking Dead series as a progressive answer to the most thoughtful of gameplay styles, but the likes of Daedalic Entertainment and Wadjet Eye Games have also developed a keen audience due to their inspired approach to puzzle design. Next on that list is Digital Media Workshop, a relatively unknown team with lofty ambitions in the form of Prominence.
The first thing that strikes you about Prominence is its surprisingly high production values. From the Hollywood inspired opening sequence to the fantastic performance of the voice actors, Prominence is a modern videogame that aims to advance the expectations of what an ‘indie’ production could be. The videogame tells the tale of a race unable to remain on their homeworld any longer, and you are part of a unit sent to begin the colonisation of another planet ahead of the arrival of millions of your kind. Of course, something was bound to go wrong, and waking up alone in an unknown facility with nothing but emergency systems for company, you’ll soon realise that you’re neither at home nor on track to completing your mission.
The videogame is played from a first-person perspective with the player given the ability to look freely around the area, but movement is handled via a grid system similar to the likes of genre classic Myst. Players must click in a specific direction to approach an item of interest before being able to investigate it. The core gameplay presented by Prominence is based on this principle: each new area you visit will have several points of interest and the player will have the opportunity to connect the dots, working out what is important and in what way one object can lead to the usefulness of the next. It’s a familiar system that Prominence doesn’t toy with all too much, but it’s clear that most of the puzzles – in the preview build, at least – have undergone a considerable amount of playtesting. Everything is based on logic and leaps of faith are few and far between.
The tripping point of Prominence comes with the use of its inventory items. As is often the case with point-n’-click titles the reliance on players undergoing the same thought process as the development team can cause the occasional gameplay bottleneck. Having to click on every available item in the hope of finding the right object for the task at hand – or at least a clue as to what is needed – is a disappointing requirement for later events given the near-perfect balance of the opening act. Prominence does present a welcoming difficulty curve until this point however, so it’s more than likely that most players will already be involved with the plot and endure the occasional misstep in the hope that something better lies beyond.
The preview build presented to Electronic Theatre was surprisingly lengthy, easily engrossing the player for an entire afternoon or evening. There’s currently no telling how much of the videogame this represented but judging by the plot development, we’ve only seen a fraction of what Prominence has to offer. With any luck there’ll be more coming this way soon, as for point-n’-click genre fans Prominence is most certainly one to watch.