Trüberbrook puts you in the shoes of Hans Tannhauser, a German-American quantum physicist who takes a trip to Europe after winning a mysterious lottery he doesn’t recall entering. He’s an archetypal protagonist for a typical adventure game that wears its inspirations proudly. Hans is quippy and a bit dopey, lovable and resourceful. This geeky everyman quickly becomes wrapped up in a conspiracy threatening the world. Chaos descends after a Saturn Portal (a gateway between dimensions) opens. Our hero is seemingly the only one who can stop it.
The premise may sound convoluted, but it’s quite intentional. The charm of Trüberbrook lies in the unknowable events that happen throughout. You shouldn't understand the complex scientific jargon characters casually throw around. The fun is in the journey, not the destination. A curiosity-fuelled trek loaded with rustic charm and breezy humor. If you can look past the uneven voice-acting of the largely German cast and the occasionally imperfect English localization, there's an intriguing mystery here that you'll be eager to uncover.
Trüberbrook uses its rural German setting to introduce a cast of oddball characters that are as diverse as they are off-kilter. For example, the senile Baron hangs around the small village square of Trüberbrook. Once the successful owner of the area’s now-abandoned silver mine, he now spends his days looking for his erstwhile pet fox, Klaus. Of course, he insists that Klaus is a cat. It's hard not to like the quirky inhabitants of this uniquely charming village.
Trüberbrook matches its weird but wonderful setting with a gorgeous handmade art style. In this instance, handmade quite literally means made by hand. This approach gives the environments a spectacularly textured look, making the rocky terrain of the German mountainside look strangely real. The game’s opening credits, in which Hans is hitching a ride to the village, uses a vertical pan to demonstrate why this aesthetic works so well. It looks great and works wonderfully in motion.
The unique look of the world propels the rustic charm of the German countryside whilst neatly paralleling the convoluted sci-fi machinery that the quantum physicist protagonist often handles. Meanwhile, there’s a smooth and slick soundtrack permeating everything. It’s soft and jazzy, evoking the feeling of mystery and teasing the supernatural. It makes for some excellent background music and I may have to come back to it outside of my adventure. The aforementioned voice acting is a little less consistent. While Trüberbrook has a solid protagonist, the supporting cast drifts between passable and bad.
Gameplay-wise, Trüberbrook is a pretty traditional adventure. You’ll be pointing and clicking through puzzles and dialogue. Although some minor quality-of-life changes could speed up the game (like animation skips to the edge of the screen), the experience feels pretty streamlined. In particular, you can see this in Hans' simplified and accessible inventory. Unlike other games in the genre, Trüberbrook is easily digestible to even the most novice adventure game player. Combining items is simple and easy. You’ll see any and all relevant inventory items available to use whenever you interact with a person or object. Any combining that needs doing automatically occurs as you interact.
The simplicity of interactions in Trüberbrook means all you really need to concern yourself with is finding items in the environment. Thankfully, Trüberbrook employs the greatest quality-of-life feature the genre ever discovered. I'm of course referring to the button that highlights everything you can interact with. This makes combing a new area for useful bits and bobs infinitely easier. Still, there are instances where the tiny red X will blend into the background as it tries to highlight something. This only happened to me a couple of times, but it could be more clearly presented.
Trüberbrook is well-versed in classic adventure game design. It encourages you to think outside the box, but it’s never frustratingly obtuse. There are some clever puzzles to contend with, like inputting five forms of written languages (cave paintings, Egyptian hieroglyphs, etc.) in chronological order, but most of them are pretty simple. If there’s any real criticism to levy against the game, it’s that its puzzles are perhaps too trivial. They typically involve little more than finding the right items and using them on the person or object in question. Experienced adventure game players may find themselves bored by the lack of challenge Trüberbrook poses, but it’s more about the experience of jaunting through the narrative than scratching your head over complex puzzles.
Ultimately, Trüberbrook is a charming journey through a wonderfully well-realized 1960s Germany. Its accessible and streamlined mechanics are simple yet effective, offering an experience that anyone can jump into. The 5-hour adventure offers a brief but well-paced experience that comes to a satisfying conclusion long before it wears out its welcome. If quirky personalities, a striking art style, and heady sci-fi are your jam then Trüberbrook is an experience that has it in spades.
TechRaptor reviewed Trüberbrook on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Engrossing Sci-Fi Story
- Charming Writing
- Streamlined Adventure Game Mechanics
- Striking Hand-Made Art
- Uneven Voice Acting
- Puzzles Lack Challenge