Trüberbrook review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Headup Games
Developer: btf
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Parallel universes, friendly robots, Cold War Germany: there’s a lot going on in Trüberbrook. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty by-the-numbers point-and-click adventure, so you’re going to be spending at least as much time here picking up random items lying around as you will be uncovering the relatively interesting mystery that lies at the heart of this game.

It’s too bad, because Trüberbrook feels like it should be a really easy game to love. Not only does it look incredible, it was designed using a neat mix of computer and stop-motion animation. Like, it’s hard to watch this game’s design process at work and not come away both deeply impressed and readily inclined to like anything that results from it.

And all that care and attention shows up on the screen. You could pick pretty much any scene at random in Trüberbrook, and you’d be looking at a work of art. It’s clear that a lot of energy and thought went into creating this game’s world, and the end result is something that feels very lived-in and homey.

This carries over to the story. There’s an intriguing sci-fi mystery at the heart of Trüberbrook that, as I said, involves alternate universes and Cold War Germany. As the history of the eponymous town reveals itself, it becomes very clear that the makers of this game put just as much thought into the town’s past as they did into it’s creation. Again, you want to love Trüberbrook because it’s so very clear that its creators did.

The problem is, all those loving details are buried beneath gameplay that’s generic at the best of times, painstakingly dull at worst. I know that it’s difficult for point-and-click adventures to stand out, but — perhaps because the rest of it is so exceptional — it still feels like a huge disappointment every time you get sidetracked from the story because it’s time to solve another long, convoluted puzzle, that requires your character to slowly walk over here, find item X, then slowly walk somewhere else, and find Y, and then walk to a third location, where the items combine to form Z, which gets you another couple of steps ahead. Repeat that for around six hours, and you can see why no amount of attention to detail or incredible effort can make up for lacklustre gameplay.

But it feels almost insulting to say that. There aren’t many games that look as cared for as Trüberbrook, and it would be so nice if you could embrace the game in a way that feels like it justifies the incredible amount of hours that must have gone into it. The unfortunate fact, however, is that this game may have been better served if even a little of the innovation that went into making it had shown up on the gameplay side.

Headup Games provided us with a Trüberbrook Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C-