REVIEW: Double Switch

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Double Switch is the spiritual successor to Digital Pictures’ other (sexier) FMV game, Night Trap. Like most FMV games, Double Switch is a good idea poorly executed. You and a rather sassy kid are trapped in a mansion/apartment building, besieged by mobsters. Armed with a surveillance system and rooms full of traps, you must protect the residents by dropping the thugs into pits, swinging things into them, etc. Looking at the game’s components singly, it all seems pretty cool: Using the surveillance system is novel. The mansion is large and full of sarcophagi, stone statues, and other weird décor. The characters are spunky, including a cute girl reporter, an old woman dressed in slinky Egyptian pajamas, and a band that you can watch rock out whenever you want. And there are lots of scenes to see, which add up, more or less, to a fun conspiracy-type plot about an Egyptian curse.

Unfortunately, this excellent movie goes to waste because it is crammed into a confusing and unrewarding game that is always forcing you to be watching the worst parts. Double Switch’s gameplay involves toggling through cameras while waiting for an intruder to set off the motion sensors. When such an intruder appears, you let for him to step into a (frequently poorly marked) trigger area and then hit him with a trap. There are other goals to clutter things up, such as rescuing characters or spying secret door combinations. The problem is that several things are always happening at once, meanwhile, you’re missing out on the stuff you really care about like the Egyptian lady trying to seduce the handyman, the grad students upstairs quarreling, or lots of the key plot twists that make the game coherent. Multiple plays are required to even begin to even make sense of what is going on, even more to see all the best parts. On top of that, you must completely memorize every scene and all the trap triggers to have any hope of success. That’s a lot to expect from such a mediocre game, especially one meant to appeal to people who like to watch television.

Even so, it’s hard for me to write off Double Switch entirely. The plot and premise are a lot of fun. The novelty and kitsch are charming. All the dumb helpless girls appeal to a certain misogynistic part of my nature. The mystery, once you watch enough little snippets to begin to have some inkling that there even is a mystery, is pretty interesting. And it’s a bit more game-like than a lot of FMV games. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still dumb, but if you are of the mind to, you can find something to enjoy. Then again, you could play Night Trap or Voyeur and they are even more hilariously cheesy, or you could play Phantasmagoria or the 7th Guest and they are better-designed games, so maybe your time could be better spent elsewhere.

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