MISSING: An Interactive Thriller - Episode One is an interesting experiment. As hinted at in the title, it is a point-and-click "interactive thriller,"whereby the player watches full motion video (FMV) cutscenes until the game asks you try to solve puzzles based upon your own intuition ... or at least that is what the developers intended.
Truth is, the puzzles in this game are extremely lackluster, to the point that this four dollar episode can be completed in around a half-hour to an hour. For this reviewer it took around forty five minutes, which even for $4 is an extremely brief experience.
Gameplay-wise MISSING plays fine; it is essentially a point-and-click where you solve puzzles via looking around the room that you are in and clicking everything in sight. What is annoying, however, is that the menus and in-game gameplay are extremely bare-bones, to the point that the game's lack of in-game budget is very apparent, lending the whole affair a somewhat cheap aesthetic.
What is surprising, though, is how nice the sets and costumes are. The primary character,the one who is "missing," plays his role convincingly enough in the short time that he is on the screen. Throughout the short time the player is with him, the actor adequately shows his confusion and anguish at being abducted and taken away from his family, who has also been presumably abducted ... or in this case are missing.
MISSING is clever for how it decides to toy with the main character, who to the best of the reviewer’s knowledge remains nameless throughout the episode. As the main character tries to escape from where he has been placed, pictures of the man’s family are strewn about everywhere, with legitimately creepy recordings of a little girl, presumably the man’s daughter, asking where her father is in an over-the-top cutesy tone. It is very well-done and is effective in at least making the viewer pay attention to the man’s plight.
However, what isn’t so well done is when the plot shifts over to a detective who is investigating the main character's abduction. As mentioned before, although the set, costumes and surroundings look authentic, the acting and script are very wooden. It is hard to determine whether or not it is the actor’s fault or the script’s—the actor’s seem to be non-English speakers as the story is set in the Canadian Province of Quebec—but it is a noticeable flaw regardless.
One notable puzzle that was hilarious in both the right and wrong ways was when you have to use an elastic band to throw items and hit an object all the way across the room to get out of a prison cell. The controls were awkward, the idea ludicrous, and the whole puzzle just felt contrived to add more time to the end of the game.
Overall, MISSING: An Interactive Thriller - Episode One is a mixed bag. There are intriguing concepts here, but what is included makes its asking price a hard sell. One should only pick this title up if it is on sale or if they are desperate for a somewhat modern FMV experience.
This game was obtained from the developer and reviewed on the PC platform.