It’s hard to pin down nice, searchable keywords for Gemini Rue. It’s a little bit of Deus Ex, a little bit of Star Wars, and a big chunk of Police Quest. While it released on PC nearly two years ago, the brand new iOS port from Wadjet Eye Games brings this point-and-click adventure game to a whole new market.
We said Gemini Rue is hard to pin down, but believe us, that’s a compliment. The game takes place in a gritty noire future, incorporating space travel and dystopian ideals. You’ll take control of both Azriel, an ex-cop searching for his lost brother, and Delta-Six, a test subject who just wants answers. The setting and story are poignantly perfect here – you’ll be immersed in the universe almost instantly. Solid voice acting and beautifully drawn backgrounds further this feeling.
Beyond aesthetics, the gameplay is also strong. Gemini Rue relies less on puzzle solving and more environmental interaction; it’s better to call it an adventure than a puzzler. You can tap several objects on any given screen, from NPCs to computers to doors. Doing so brings up your action menu, allowing you to use inventory items or body parts on a given object. It’s a novel idea to be able to ease open a sliding door with your hand or kick in the glass with your foot. Azriel also carries a phone, which stores progress notes and NPC contact numbers; think of it as Metal Gear Solid‘s codec plus an objective screen. Figuring out which inventory items to use to enter a locked apartment or unlock a gate is about as deep as puzzles get, but again, this game is about exploration and interaction over puzzle solving.
Touch mechanics work well in Gemini Rue (they have to), but they’re not perfect. Holding down on the screen reveals all interactive objects in the area, but the specific touch region of individual objects can be spotty. You’ll occasionally find yourself walking by a person when you want to speak to them. The touch mechanics are generally half reliable. Considering the immersion the game offers, it’s disheartening to stumble around fantastic scenery trying to speak to citizens. Occasional frame stuttering and audio lag also pull you from the experience, but these are thankfully rare.
If exploration and interaction are the meat and potatoes of Gemini Rue, then combat is a side of fresh garden vegetables. Yes, there is combat in a point-and-click title. What’s more, it works. Action icons allow you to pop in and out of cover, line up one-shot kills, fire, and reload. Learning to use these actions effectively is key, as you can die and/or run out of ammo during shootouts. But don’t go in thinking these firefights bloat the game – they’re pretty rare. This is a plus, as the non-combat gameplay is slightly superior.
Gemini Rue puts many mechanics on the table, but it brings something even more important: pace. If the gameplay shines, then the pacing is blinding. You’re thrown into the story right from the start, presented with the notion of a police state, the hint of testing facilities, and the feeling that something’s not quite right. That initial scene is the only overload of information you’ll experience. As you progress, exploration and interaction are moderately introduced. Combat isn’t taught until the second chapter, and even then, the fights are generously spread out in the following chapters. Switching between Ariel and Delta-Six isn’t even freely available until a few hours into the adventure. You won’t be overwhelmed with action options early on, but you will certainly be immersed in the game then.
That immersion is what makes Gemini Rue an absolute must-play for point-and-click fans, or really anybody looking for a solid iOS title. The world has an incredible level of lore, and we can see games upon games spinning off in this universe. “Universe” is the right word here, as spaceships plus film noire plus mystery give the game a fully realized setting. With no over-reliance on puzzles, you are left to exploration and occasional combat, which works wonderfully well for the game. Spotty touching does not hold Gemini Rue back at all. It’s a well paced, well designed game, and its availability on iOS means even more people can enjoy it.
A copy of the game was provided for review.