HIGH Cute visuals, fantastic world design and puzzles.
LOW The roomba puzzle was a bit too fussy.
WTF It’s the most useful golf club in history!
I’ve written several times about the kind of point-and-clicks that I like. They have to be fast-paced, they have to be clever, they can’t drown the player with a million different objects and flavor text bubbles, and they can’t have moon logic.
There are very few that make the cut, but I’m happy to add another one to this short list with Like No Other: The Legend of the Two Books. It checks all of my boxes, but unfortunately it stumbles in a place that I did not anticipate a point-and-click would — there’s no story here!
It starts off well. The art style is quite appealing, a bit like Where’s Waldo with loose pencil lines and bright colors, and the main character is charming. He’s apparently an elderly treasure hunter in a post-apocalyptic world going in for one last score, and seeing him enter the scene in an old jeep and carrying a beaten-up backpack set the mood perfectly.
There’s a bit of setup at the beginning — something about a book or a copy of a book (I think?) but there’s not much more than that. I jumped ahead thinking that the plot would unfold as play went on, but it never did. When I rolled credits, I knew nothing more than what I did at the start, and it’s a real shame because I think the character ( I can’t even remember his name. Did he even have one?) is visually appealing, the broken-down and dried-out world seems full of promise, and there’s a lot of potential for jokes, social commentary or just some light-hearted storytelling. Unfortunately, the developers don’t go there, so what we have left is an almost purely mechanical exercise.
On the plus side, the mechanics are great!
This is a small game, streamlined and restrained in square footage, but the developers pack a lot into a little while never going overboard. The first half of play happens in a city block with only a couple of interactive places — a car garage and an apartment building. The building has several rooms and floors, so the player will spend a lot of time here trying to figure out how to get past blocked stairwells and locked doors.
Unlike many entries in this genre, almost every single puzzle is entirely logical. The locked door needs a key. A broken switch needs a lever. A dark hallway means a fuse needs to be replaced, and so on. And, because the area that the player can search is so small, it doesn’t take long before they find the item that they need to progress. It’s all very quick and to-the-point, but it’s also satisfying, and that’s the key thing. Out of the entire game I only needed to look up one answer, and when it comes to the point-and-click genre, that’s an absolutely stellar batting average in puzzle design.
The second half of the game is an abandoned museum, and the developers keep adding interesting puzzles and logical situations. There’s a bit of fantastical whimsy to be sure, but it’s never illogical or impossible to follow. Even better, if the player does get stuck at any point, helpful hints pop up in the corner of the screen to point the way.
The simple act of playing Like No Other is enjoyable thanks to its no-nonsense challenges, fat-free design and the developers’ unwillingness to indulge in the tropes that sink more traditional point-and-clicks. The player is also spared from a million inconsequential ‘flavor’ texts to get through, none of the items in the player’s inventory are worthless, and there’s no brain busting, convoluted solutions that would be cockamamie nonsense in real life.
This is an incredibly well put together, lovingly crafted title and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute of playing it. However, story and character are keystones that the point-and-click genre is built on, and I find it baffling that the developers didn’t invest in these aspects. If I knew what the story was about, if I knew what my character’s motivations were, or hell, if I even knew what my character’s name was, it would go a long way towards securing Like No Other a permanent spot on my recommendations list.
Unfortunately, there’s a void where the story and character should go, and this absence is a significant mark against the work overall. However, everything else is so strong that I can’t be too mad. If the developers were to create a sequel following in these same footsteps but with more story and character, it would be an absolute knockout. Let’s hope they get there.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Actoon Studio. It is currently available on PC, Switch and Xbox. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the XBX. Approximately two hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains no descriptors. This one is absolutely safe for anyone — no sex, no violence, no salty language. It’s just good, clean puzzling.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The dialogue is accompanied by subtitles. (See examples of text above.) The subtitles/text can be resized. No audio cues are needed for gameplay, so this adventure is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. The left stick moves the character, the right stick moves the mouse pointer. Y opens the inventory, and the right bumper interacts with objects. The menu button opens the menu, and the face buttons confirm/cancel.
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