Pixelhunter – Talk to…

Good voice acting in a game can be vital in making you care about characters you will likely spend hours of your life with. But in a point and click adventure, which relies so heavily on story, script, and dialogue it is utterly essential. Poorly written and acted games in other genres can still shine thanks to fun gameplay mechanics (Dark Void is a case in point), but an adventure game with characters that make you groan every time they open their mouths has very little else to offer in recompense. A prime example is Secret Files: Tunguska, which I recently had the ‘pleasure’ of limping through, mainly because I’d spent good money on it, but also because I was morbidly fascinated.


If as much time was spent on the English translation of Tunguska as on the detailed environments then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

An adventure game with characters that make you groan every time they open their mouths has very little else to offer in recompense.

We’re not even talking about being endearingly hammy, like the gothic horror Black Mirror. If the phrase ‘phoning it in’ can be used to describe a lacklustre performance where the actor’s heart just isn’t in it, then here they couldn’t even be bothered to do that – they sent a telegram instead.

Sure you could argue that the horrible pauses and uneven levels are a result of the nature of recording actors individually; after all, few games have the resources to record and motion capture actors to the level that Uncharted does, least of all an adventure game. But that doesn’t excuse the actors from not pointing out unbearably bad lines like when one character describes a medieval torture device as “a device for people whose weight to height ratio does not conform to the norms of society”.

It beggars belief to me that no one would put up a hand and say ‘sorry, but this script is shit’ and adlib something better. Literally every line is clumsily structured, sound levels and even tones change several times within a conversation (or even a sentence), and jokes fall flat while dramatic outbursts conversely have you in stitches. The most unbelievable line comes when the game’s protagonist comments on the museum exhibit curated by her father, who has literally just then been kidnapped by terrorists: “My father has worked hard for months on the exhibition of the rulers of long ago… hopefully I’ll find him again soon… and hopefully he’s doing well.” Wow, you can really feel her pain. And what about that exhibition on ‘the rulers of long ago’, that sure sound interesting.

This isn’t really the game developers fault, the original German scripts were probably fine, it has just been translated by someone with absolutely no feel for the English language. It might as well have been a translation of a VCR manual and read by actors who didn’t really have an investment in their characters and just wanted to finish up so they could go home and watch Dallas. Then again maybe it is their fault as they could have invested a bit more into good localisation like other German studios such as Daedalic Entertainment and King Art Games obviously do.

Rolf Saxon is set to reprise the role of George Stobbart in Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse

Now we’ve heard the worst, here is my personal list of the best voice actors in the genre.

1 George Stobbart of Broken Sword, voiced by Rolf Saxon.
He’s the quintessential dry witted, laconic narrator, who makes everything he comments on sound fascinating.

2 Rincewind in Discworld voiced by Eric Idle.
Discworld’s voice cast is a mind boggling who’s who of British comedy talent of the mid nineties, but the cream of the crop is famous Python Eric Idle who delivers Rincewind’s lines with just the right balance of bumbling obliviousness and frustrated cowardice.

3 Sam and Max voiced by David Nowlin & William Kasten.
These are the voice actors for the three series by Telltale Games and they nail the banter between the sociopathic, wisecracking duo to hilarious effect. Going back to the original Sam and Max Hit the Road, the voices just sound off in comparison.

4 Guybrush Threepwood in Monkey Island voiced by Dominic Armato.
Armato has been the voice of this Mighty Pirate (TM) for pretty much every game and was sought out to reprise his role by Telltale for their episodic adventures.

5 Joey Malone in the Blackwell Chronicles voiced by Abe Goldfarb.
Goldfarb’s world weary tone perfectly brings Rosa’s sprit sidekick to, er… life.


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