Retropolis 1 & 2: VR Point-and-Click Adventure

Retropolis 1 & 2 Review: A VR Point-and-Click Adventure Gem

Retropolis seamlessly brings the spirit of classic point-and-click adventures into the immersive realm of VR. Even if you’re not typically a fan of the genre, these games offer an engaging experience that’s hard to resist.

Screenshot of Retropolis VR game featuring film noir robot characters and cyberpunk cityscape
Image Credit: Road to VR

Introduction to the Series

The adventure begins with “The Secret of Retropolis,” released in 2021 for Meta Quest and SteamVR. Its sequel, “Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye,” followed in early 2024, available on the same VR platforms. According to a PlayStation Store listing, a PSVR 2 version is also in the works, expanding its reach to a broader audience.

My journey with Retropolis started with the second game, and its captivating narrative prompted me to go back and complete the first one. While it’s not necessary to play the first game to enjoy the second, doing so enriches the experience by providing deeper context and backstory for the main characters.

If you find this review intriguing, begin with the first game. You’ll find that Retropolis 2 not only continues the story but enhances it in every aspect, from graphics and storytelling to gameplay mechanics and overall scope.

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Retropolis 1 & 2: Review Overview

Retropolis masterfully brings the charm and intricacies of point-and-click adventures into VR without overcomplicating the formula. While the puzzles are well-designed and engaging, the real strength of Retropolis lies in its stunning film noir world and its vividly crafted characters. Despite the robotic setting, the narrative and interactions are anything but mechanical.

Retropolis is for you if you:

– Enjoy story-driven and humorous adventure games.
– Appreciate film noir aesthetics.
– Seek a VR game that can be played comfortably while sitting.

Retropolis isn’t for you if you:

– Prefer action-packed games over puzzle-solving adventures.
– Dislike stylized graphics and environments.

A Captivating Cyberpunk Setting

Confession time: point-and-click adventures have never been my go-to genre, despite having enjoyed a few in my younger years. However, Retropolis 2 immediately caught my attention for two main reasons.

Comfort and Accessibility

Firstly, it’s incredibly comfortable to play. I spent an entire weekend lying on my couch, playing the game without any physical strain or compromise in gameplay. In a VR landscape often dominated by physically demanding games, Retropolis stands out as a delightfully laid-back experience. Whether you prefer to sit or recline, the game adapts seamlessly, ensuring comfort and accessibility for all players.

Fascinating World-Building

Secondly, the world of Retropolis is nothing short of fascinating. The game is set in a city exclusively populated by robots, a homage to a bygone human civilization. Humanity is a thing of the past, and what remains are robots with deeply human-like traits. This post-apocalyptic city serves as a mirror to human society, reflecting its myriad light and dark sides.

The narrative is steeped in classic film noir tropes. The protagonist, Philip Log, is a detective with a troubled past. He’s hired by movie star Jenny Montage to retrieve a special item, but in the process, he uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the entire city of Retropolis. The first game is a relatively short introduction to this richly atmospheric world and its characters, while the second game unfolds a more extensive plot across four episodes.

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Engaging Characters and Dialogue

The characters and dialogue in Retropolis are among its strongest points. In the first game, Philip Log navigates a world plagued by a corrupt mayor. The sequel, however, delves into much darker territory with the introduction of the enigmatic Magician. Philip Log’s motivations are driven less by a desire to solve crimes and more by his love for Jenny Montage, who is at the center of the conspiracy and disappears at the end of the first game. The second game picks up a year later, with Log following a new lead in his search for Jenny.

Diverse and Memorable Locations

Throughout your adventure, you’ll visit a variety of visually stunning and atmospheric locations, including a bar, a lighthouse, a prison, and an opera house. Each setting is meticulously designed, enhancing the immersive experience. The environments not only serve as backdrops for the story but also play a crucial role in the puzzle-solving mechanics.

Rich Character Interactions

Retropolis thrives on its colorful characters and the witty, humorous dialogues that bring them to life. Philip Log’s interactions with these characters are filled with personality, making each encounter memorable. The dialogues are well-written, often blending humor and poignancy to great effect. This balance of tone ensures that the game remains engaging and emotionally resonant.

Classic Point-and-Click Mechanics in VR

Retropolis retains the core mechanics of traditional point-and-click adventures while leveraging the capabilities of VR to enhance the experience.

Seamless Movement and Interaction

In classic point-and-click fashion, players move from room to room, collecting items and solving puzzles by combining them with objects in the environment. The VR implementation is intuitive, with extendable arms and snap-turn mechanics allowing for easy interaction without the need for physical movement. This design choice makes Retropolis an excellent option for those looking for a more relaxed VR experience.

Puzzle Design and Variety

The puzzles in Retropolis are generally well-crafted, offering a satisfying blend of challenge and logic. However, the quality of the puzzles varies, with some proving more intricate than others. I did find that the “find the code” type puzzles were a bit too frequent, but overall, the puzzle-solving aspect is entertaining and rewarding.

For those who might get stuck, the game includes an online manual accessible right within the VR environment. This feature is particularly helpful for players who are new to the point-and-click genre, ensuring that frustration never overshadows the enjoyment of the game.

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Thematic Depth and Narrative Appeal

While the gameplay mechanics and puzzles are integral to the Retropolis experience, it’s the thematic depth and narrative that truly set it apart.

A Film Noir Tale

The story is a quintessential film noir narrative, filled with intrigue, mystery, and complex characters. Philip Log, the archetypal detective with a checkered past, is drawn into a web of deception and danger. His journey is not just a quest to solve a case but a deeply personal odyssey driven by love and loss. This emotional core adds significant weight to the narrative, making it more than just a series of puzzles to solve.

Reflective Themes

Retropolis’s setting as a city of robots that mirrors human society adds a layer of philosophical reflection to the game. The robots, with their human-like traits and behaviors, serve as a commentary on humanity’s virtues and vices. The game explores themes of identity, memory, and existence, often through poignant and thought-provoking dialogues.

Visual and Audio Excellence

The visual and audio elements of Retropolis are integral to its immersive experience.

Stunning Visuals

The game’s art style is a blend of film noir aesthetics and cyberpunk elements. The environments are richly detailed, with a moody, atmospheric quality that enhances the narrative. The stylized graphics, while not hyper-realistic, are beautifully rendered and perfectly suited to the game’s tone and setting.

Atmospheric Soundtrack

The soundtrack of Retropolis is another standout feature. The melancholy jazz score complements the film noir atmosphere, adding emotional depth to the narrative. The music, combined with excellent voice acting, brings the characters and story to life, making each moment impactful and memorable.

Conclusion: A Must-Play Even for Non-Genre Fans

Retropolis stands out as a remarkable achievement in VR gaming, successfully bringing the beloved point-and-click adventure genre into a new dimension. Its captivating narrative, engaging characters, and atmospheric world make it a must-play, even for those who don’t usually gravitate towards this genre.

Why You Should Play Retropolis

In the end, it wasn’t the puzzles that kept me invested in Retropolis. It was the plot, which I was eager to see unfold, the richly developed characters, the atmospheric film noir locations, the evocative jazz soundtrack, and the poignant exploration of human-like robot existences. Retropolis transports players to a unique and compelling world, making it a highly recommended experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned VR gamer or someone looking for a new type of adventure, Retropolis offers a blend of comfort, narrative depth, and visual beauty that’s hard to find elsewhere. It’s a testament to the potential of VR as a medium for storytelling and a shining example of how classic game genres can be revitalized through innovative technology.

Retropolis 1 & 2 FAQs

What is Retropolis?

Retropolis is a VR point-and-click adventure series set in a post-apocalyptic city populated by robots. The games feature classic film noir elements, engaging characters, and a compelling narrative.

What platforms are Retropolis 1 & 2 available on?

Retropolis 1 & 2 are available on **Meta Quest** and SteamVR. A PSVR 2 version is also in development.

Do I need to play the first game to enjoy the second one?

While it’s not necessary to play the first game to understand and enjoy the second, it provides valuable context and backstory that enriches the overall experience.

What kind of gameplay can I expect from Retropolis?

Retropolis features classic point-and-click adventure mechanics adapted for VR. Players move through various environments, collect items, and solve puzzles. The VR implementation allows for easy interaction using extendable arms and snap-turn mechanics.

What is the storyline of Retropolis?

In the first game, “The Secret of Retropolis,” you play as Philip Log, a detective hired by movie star Jenny Montage to retrieve a special item, uncovering a conspiracy in the process. The sequel, “Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye,” picks up a year later, with Philip continuing his search for Jenny and delving deeper into a new mystery involving a figure known as the Magician.

How long does it take to complete each game?

The first game is relatively short, serving as an introduction to the world of Retropolis. The second game is more extensive, with a story that unfolds over four episodes, offering several hours of gameplay.

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Are the puzzles in Retropolis difficult?

The puzzles vary in difficulty. Some are straightforward, while others can be more challenging. If you get stuck, an online manual is accessible in-game to provide hints and help.

Can I play Retropolis while sitting down?

Yes, Retropolis is designed to be comfortably played while sitting. The VR controls and mechanics allow for a relaxed, low-effort experience.

What makes Retropolis unique compared to other VR games?

Retropolis stands out for its rich narrative, film noir aesthetics, and immersive world-building. The combination of engaging storytelling, memorable characters, and atmospheric settings makes it a unique and compelling experience in the VR landscape.

Is Retropolis suitable for all ages?

Retropolis is generally suitable for teens and adults due to its themes and narrative complexity. The film noir elements and some darker plot points may not be appropriate for younger children.

Will there be more games in the Retropolis series?

As of now, there’s no official announcement about future games in the Retropolis series. However, the positive reception of the first two games suggests that the developers may consider expanding the series further.

How much does each game cost?

Pricing for the games may vary based on platform and region. Check the Meta Quest, SteamVR, or PlayStation Store for the most up-to-date pricing information.

Are there any accessibility options in Retropolis?

Retropolis offers several accessibility features, including the ability to play while sitting and an online manual for puzzle hints. The VR controls are designed to be intuitive and comfortable for a wide range of players.

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Can I play Retropolis without prior experience in point-and-click adventure games?

Absolutely! While experienced players will appreciate the nods to classic point-and-click adventures, newcomers will find Retropolis approachable and engaging, thanks to its intuitive gameplay and helpful in-game manual.

What kind of visual and audio experience does Retropolis offer?

Retropolis features stunning stylized visuals with a film noir and cyberpunk aesthetic. The atmospheric environments are complemented by a melancholic jazz soundtrack and excellent voice acting, enhancing the immersive experience.

How can I get the most out of my Retropolis experience

To fully enjoy Retropolis, take your time exploring the detailed environments, engage with the characters, and immerse yourself in the story. Playing the first game before the second can also enrich your understanding and appreciation of the overarching narrative.

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