Jekyll & Hyde is an action-adventure from Pixelcage (a German developer so new that their web site is still under construction) and DreamCatcher Interactive (a Canadian publisher who has been around longer than I've been reviewing games -- that is, a long time). The game takes the basic premise from Robert Louis Stevenson's turn-of-the-century novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde -- that there's a mild-mannered doctor named Jekyll who sometimes turns into an evil brute named Hyde -- and dumps the characters into a B-movie thriller where lots of climbing, jumping, and crawling are required to put an end to an evil threat. The result is a game that seems like it could have been fun, but which I found mostly to be tedious and frustrating.
As the game opens up, you learn that there is a mysterious plague sweeping through the streets of London. Somehow, this plague kills adults but leaves children unharmed, and while you're working on a cure, you accidentally create the potion that transforms you from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. From there, you discover that there are ancient tunnels and caverns hidden beneath your home, and as you explore these subterranean marvels (complete with ancient defenses that need to be defeated) you discover that the plague is tied in with a powerful book, a mysterious cult, and an ancient god.
Despite being billed as a "classical adventure with action and skillgaming elements," Jekyll & Hyde leans heavily on the action side of the spectrum, and you spend most of your time running and jumping and climbing and crawling and dodging traps. For example, in one sequence, you have to climb down a rock face to a lava pool, then jump onto a rock floating through the pool, then jump off the rock to the opposite side of the pool, and finally climb up another rock face so you can move on to the next sequence. The game uses save points (which you can load at any time) and restore points (which you go back to when you die), and so you usually don't lose much time when you miss a jump or step onto a trap or get splattered by a big robot and have to try again.
Control for the game (on the PC) works using the mouse or the keyboard or a combination of both. For example, to move Jekyll / Hyde, you can use the WASD keys or the left mouse button, and to jump, you can press the space bar or the right mouse button. In theory, this should make the game more versatile and easier to play, but instead I found the controls to be pretty clunky, mostly because the camera rarely follows along behind Jekyll / Hyde (the game prefers fixed "scenes" that you move between) and so lining up jumps and movements is much more difficult than it should be, and frequently results in Jekyll's / Hyde's death (and an annoying moaning sound).
Along with the action elements, the game does contain a few puzzles. About half of the puzzles involve using inventory objects in the right way, and these puzzles are the easiest simply because you're never given very many inventory objects or places to use them. And then there are the mechanical puzzles, where you have to pull levers (to move things around) or mix ingredients together (to create new potions for Hyde), and these work a little better, but their difficulty is aimed at action game players (or so it seemed), and so I'm guessing they won't pose much of a challenge to adventure game players. I looked for but didn't find a walkthrough for the game, but even so I didn't have much of a problem finishing it. The only time I really got stuck was when I didn't notice an exit in one of the tunnels, and I spent an hour wandering around wondering what I was supposed to do next.
Jekyll & Hyde ran pretty well for me (it only crashed once in 15 hours), there weren't any localization issues, the graphics and sounds weren't great -- or even good -- but they got the job done, and I'm guessing that the game mechanics work just like the developers intended. And yet, I thoroughly hated the game. Every time a cut scene popped up to advance the plot, I rolled my eyes. Every time I had to make my way through a jumping or climbing sequence, I gritted my teeth. And every time a puzzle made an appearance, I was disappointed about how quick and easy it was.
And so, obviously, I would not recommend Jekyll & Hyde. The action sequences aren't complex or varied enough to appeal to action game fans (or so I surmise, not really being one), and the puzzle sequences aren't difficult or frequent enough to appeal to adventure game fans, leaving Jekyll & Hyde a potential fan base of basically nobody. Sort of amusingly, DreamCatcher published a game named Jekyll & Hyde in 2001, too, and it was terrible as well. So fear a potential bundling of the two games together, but, really, just stay away from any game named Jekyll & Hyde, no matter what bargain price you might eventually find it for.