Gemini Rue is a point-and-click sci-fi adventure from Joshua Nuernberger and Wadjet Eye Games. It was created using a game editor called the Adventure Game Studio (originally released in 1998), which was designed to emulate the Sierra Online and Lucasarts adventures of old. That gives Gemini Rue sort of a Space Quest / Police Quest feel to it... but is it as much fun as those earlier games? Keep reading to find out.
In Gemini Rue you control two characters. One is a cop illegally on a planet searching for information about his brother. Another is a patient in a "rehab center," who recently had his memory reset after trying to escape. As you play these two characters and gradually learn how they relate to each other, you also intersect with a galactic crime syndicate called the Boryokudan, and you realize that nothing is quite how it appears.
Gameplay in Gemini Rue mostly uses a point-and-click interface. You left click to move your character, and you right click to bring up a context sensitive menu, which gives you some basic options (for examine, talk, use and kick) and allows you to use your inventory. There are also some action sequences involving shootouts and some puzzles involving crates, and these use the keyboard. For example, in a shootout you use the A and D keys to move away from cover, the S key to take cover, and the spacebar to fire your gun. Action sequences are the exception rather than the rule, and while you can die in them, the game is good about autosaving just beforehand, so it's easy to repeat the sequences if they don't go the way you want them to.
The puzzles in Gemini Rue have some variety to them, but for the most part they involve talking to people and finding and using inventory objects. The game also comes with a commentary track, and one of the things they mention during the commentary is that they tried to remove a lot of frustration from the puzzles by giving players multiple ways of completing tasks. For example, early in the game you need to figure out which room somebody is staying in. If you say the right thing to a desk clerk, then he tells you the answer; otherwise you have to solve a puzzle to learn the information. Unfortunately, while more options and less frustration sounds good, Gemini Rue ends up being relatively easy to play. I didn't need to check a walkthrough even once to complete it.
The best part of Gemini Rue is the story. It's a little deeper than you usually see in an adventure game (with some actual philosophical underpinnings), it has a lot of noir appeal to it (the cop could be named Sam Spade), and there are enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. The characters are also nicely developed, and the voice actors do a good job of bringing them to life, so you don't mind listening to their conversations, and you care what happens to them at the end.
The only real downside to Gemini Rue is the graphics, which I think use a native 320x200 resolution. You can use anti-aliasing or a filter to increase the resolution, but the scenery remains blocky, and it isn't too likely to generate any oohs or aahs. On the plus side, the game's system requirements are negligible. You should be able to play Gemini Rue using any computer purchased during this century.
Overall, Gemini Rue is a solid effort. The story is excellent, the puzzles are good enough, and while the graphics aren't anything to write home about, they score high marks in nostalgia, and they do a reasonable job in setting the mood. What Gemini Rue demonstrates, I think, is that you don't need a fancy engine or gigabytes of content to create a compelling game. Here's hoping that Wadjet Eye can keep up the good work, and that enough people purchase their products to keep them in business.