“Quantum physics tells us that no matter how thorough our observation of the present, the unobserved past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.” – Stephen Hawking
Released: March 2019
Trüberbrook is a sci-fi point-and-click adventure game set in the late 1960s. The player takes on the role of Hans Tannhauser, a young physicist who mysteriously wins a trip to the village of Trüberbrook, an ageing but beautiful health resort in the West German countryside. However, things quickly get strange and it becomes clear that this trip will not be the relaxing mental-block remedy that he had hoped for.
The game takes stylistic inspiration from TV shows such as Twin Peaks, The X-Files and Stranger Things and this is subtly apparent throughout but particularly in the juxtaposition of the quaint vintage setting and sci-fi elements of Trüberbrook.
The main narrative weaves together the village’s history of corruption and decline with tales of parallel universes and relatable themes of friendship, loyalty and self-discovery. For the ardent observer, there are also a plethora of pop culture references to be found along the way. Whilst the storyline is undoubtedly fun and interesting, it is also quite obscure and a little unsure of itself making it something of a mixed bag.
The game has full audio in both German and English as well as a range of subtitle options. The English subtitles fell short on a few occasions but this was largely unproblematic and in general, the writing is charming, clever, and with tidbits of humour dotted throughout. With the exception of a few minor side characters, the German voice acting was varied, expressive and believable, in particular, Nora Tschirmer does a fantastic job bringing her character, Gretchen Lemke, to life.
Trüberbrook serenades the player with a range of wonderfully implemented music from a variety of genres. The OST has an eerie yet hopeful feel and includes jazzy film-noir type tracks and bluesy background tunes that accent the various scenes perfectly and add to the unusual atmosphere. A short concert in the village in which the player decides the direction of a song called Then I’ll Make You Mine by pseudo-band The Band From Another Place is by far the musical highlight of the game.
Amongst Trüberbrook’s most noteworthy features are its unique artwork and visuals. The beautiful aesthetic was created by hand-building all the scenery and backdrops for the game as real miniature scale models. These were then illuminated in a cinematic manner, captured with a 3D scanner, digitally polished and blended with animated characters, visual effects and set extensions. Presumably due to production time and costs, the number of different scenes is more limited than in similar titles. However, they do adapt with progression to provide some variation and the overall effect is striking enough to make it a worthy trade-off.
Trüberbrook operates similarly to most point-and-click games, the main difference being the way that the inventory works. Apart from viewing it, the player is unable to interact with the inventory or items within, instead, any viable combinations are displayed upon interacting with external and environmental items. This served to simplify some of the problems and while this could be detrimental to more puzzle-centric titles, it worked well for this narrative-focused experience.
The game will take around 5-8 hours to complete and consists of 5 chapters. There is a slight but noticeable difficulty curve in the latter half of chapter four and things start to get a little tricky. There were a few nonsensical puzzle solutions, such as wearing a metal suit of armour to fix live electrical cables, but most could be solved with simple observation, logic and the standard walking back and forth!
Overall, Trüberbrook is a unique and stunning experience, with excellent visual and audio elements and an intriguing sci-fi narrative. However, it is difficult to recommend at the full price of £24.99 which seems a little on the steep side considering the game’s minor flaws, and short playtime, especially when compared to similar titles within the genre.