Top Critic Average
It is strange to find an adventure game that you actually want to play through a second time right after completing it just to see what you could have done differently. Point and click games have notoriously low re-playability, so 1954: Alcatraz is unlike most of its contemporaries just for including such bold ideas as multiple solutions and narrative choice.
All in all, 1954: Alcatraz left much to be desired. The puzzles, story and characters all were much stronger in concept than in execution. The blueprints are here, but some polish would have taken this game so much further.
An innovative approach the adds a degree of non-linearity to the game play combined with a compelling story line and great visuals make Daedalic's Alcatraz 1954 a game that is hard to walk away from.
1954 Alcatraz fails to deliver. There is a lot to like, the narrative and setting are exceptional, but the constant shortcomings of almost every other aspect of the game quickly saps enjoyment and replaces it with frustration and disappointment.
Though it's got many of the building blocks for my ideal prison game (is that a weird thing to have?), 1954: Alcatraz is a disappointment. A few great ideas are drowned in a torrent of design flaws and technical problems.
Whilst 1954 Alcatraz does certain things very well, it too often lets itself down.
1954 Alcatraz has its own level of charm that helps it to just about keep its head above water. However, it also lacks any punch throughout. None of the characters are particularly beguiling, the puzzles faced are not especially memorable or even taxing, and the story itself only just holds the attention long enough to finish the approximately eight-hour journey. Thankfully, there are multiple junctures during the tale that are just about intriguing enough to warrant keeping multiple saves to see how things play out differently - but only the most perseverant will likely do so, with the majority just switching off post-credits. Those sticking around to see the ending variations, though, will find that 1954 will forever be resigned to the past, with no strong memories remaining at all, neither negative, nor positive.
Despite doing a number of things right, 1954: Alcatraz doesn't feel special. The characters are intriguing but ultimately one-dimensional, and the story fails to take advantage of the time, location, and the branching paths idea. Though most of the puzzles use common sense instead of asking players to use obscure logic, they feel easy and there's the sense that the title isn't very challenging. Combined with a less-than-stellar visual presentation, 1954: Alcatraz doesn't reach its full potential. Adventure fans may enjoy this, but they'll also feel that this could have been much better.
Hardcore fans of the genre and Daedalic Entertainment will find enough to like here with the developer's trademark stunning art, believable voice acting and interesting setting, but an underwhelming story prevents 1954 Alcatraz from matching their stellar previous efforts.
1954 Alcatraz is a competent Point & Click game, that through it's non-linear storyline approach and decision element offer an experience that is fun and varied. Throw in an attention to detail to visuals and music and you have a nice little package. The experience is marred however by a lack of creativity in the puzzle department, and plot problems that are caused by it's non-linear design. It's still a decent game overall, but a lower price may be required to encourage most to take the plunge.