FMV Interactive return with their second game ‘Truth’ and this time we’re the audience in a game show looking to give away a million dollars. The six contestants are hooked up to a lie detector and so they can’t lie about things that make them potentially sound like a bad person. As the audience, we get to ask the questions and vote the losers off until only one remains. It sounds like a great premise – and it is. Where things fall down is in the execution.
Truth’s set up is bare bones to the point where it feels like you are playing a DVD game. You can’t escape the game on PC, the menu’s look cheap and the entire game show seems to be taking place with a grey sound booth green screen background. There is no attempt to even hide the zero budget behind the game portions of Truth and that makes it quite a jarring experience to watch. Often FMV games have minimal budget and that’s OK if the writing or game structure can entertain you. Personality first games can still make a positive impact, but Truth also has a bit of an identity crisis.
Of the six contestants, three of them are insufferable stereotypes. Joe is a wannabe playboy without dimensions, Alexis is an Instagram model who poses before talking vapidly and Autumn is a hippie who has anger issues when it comes to money, freedom and governments. They are wildly unlikeable in the main and listening to their answers to your 30 questions (asked in batches of 5) can be quite draining as you grow to hate them more. At least you can ask the questions in any order which gives you the ability to avoid listening to the host repeat asking the same question over and over.
Sam is a sci-fi gamer nerd who is quite endearing in some ways but also takes twice as a long to answer a question and so drags things out to eye-roll length. All four of these are largely one-note characters who never change behaviour or motivation. Thankfully, Truth moves from the so-bad-its-good to the lets-send-it-up-crazy-style for Claire and Lilith. Claire is a homeless women who is cursed with terrible luck and her stories of woe are increasingly absurd. There is a great touch and reach across to FMV Interactive’s previous game Vegas Tales here too. Claire’s missing daughter Mallory is I suspect the Mallory from that game who was equally as unfortunate. Its a lovely twist and shows that there are sparks of decent ideas and writing hidden in the depths. The best character is the ridiculous Lilith – a goth who wants to raise Cthulhu and kill everyone. Her deadpan answers about how she hates everyone and wants them dead brought a genuine chuckle throughout and as the game goes on, she becomes a beacon of fun.
I think that’s what is quite frustrating about Truth – there are elements of promise and thought here, but its dragged down by other elements. Its inability to pick a lane (is it absurd comedy with some dull additions or more straight-laced drama with some whacky characters?) tonally doesn’t help. The game show host looks like he is being held hostage to say the same lines in six slightly different ways. The questions offer insights into each character but the lie detector element doesn’t even factor in the narrative outside of a couple of throwaway comments. There could have been a cult classic in the making here but it just doesn’t work. Part of this is down to the games structure too. Each character has 30 questions to be asked, and you ask them in batches of 5 but that’s listening to 30 questions in round 1, then 25 and so on. It is really slow going and since the ending and voting off decisions are so short and underwhelming, there isn’t much of a pay off for your time.
I do think the studio is a rough gem in the making though. I’d be very interested in seeing them take on a Contradiction style game where they fully invest in the quirkier humour and send up the FMV genre fully. It is where their writing is strongest and I’d personally find it quite entertaining to see the team let loose.
Review copy provided by developer.
Some neat ideas that are underdeveloped or untouched in an oddly stilted FMV watchalong.
Lilith is a cult classic character in gaming in the making.
Free reign to ask any of the 30 questions in any order (although you'll end up asking them all to some of the contestants anyway).
A decent concept.
Clunky game progression makes the game a slog to play through.
Half the cast are so good at playful vapid horrible people, its a struggle to root for them.
Game is missing basic features like an exit button on PC or any kind of sound/visual options.
Game misses out on delivering anything beyond a personality test, when the concept itself was open for so much more fun.
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