There’s a fine line between nostalgia and childhood trauma, and that line usually isn’t revealed until we encounter something from our past that removes our rose colored glasses – so to speak. Maybe you would normally shrug your shoulders and think highschool wasn’t all that bad only to catch a glimpse of an old movie from your youth that you recall was played in class once. You remember that once it was dark like that and the teacher was inattentive, that’s when the bullies would come for you, whispering gravely personal insults your way. Oh yeah, highschool actually sucked… hard..
This is unfortunately our main character, Mara’s, current daily existence. There’s no nostalgia or childhood trauma to reflect upon just yet since she is still knee deep in it. As a burgeoning adolescent she’s still on the front lines of the worst of it unfortunately, and that’s the story Perfect Tides by Three Bees Inc aims to explore in aching detail.
I can’t say I’ve played many point and click adventures in my time but the ones I have played always left me feeling satisfied. Dealing with a complex story and using it to your advantage to solve physical puzzles as well as conversational enigmas invariably added up to an experience that I seem to quickly forget about, and neglect to recall how much I truly enjoyed. Especially when played with Patrick, since not only are two heads better than one but I like having someone to discuss the story with as well. Similar to a book club I guess, it’s nice to share the adventure with someone.
Mulling over the trailer and Steam store page for Perfect Tides I was immediately brought back to my time with games like Day of the Tentacle or Full Throttle. Their art styles and story directions were obviously very different from Perfect Tides, but the classic appeal was definitely there. I also got some Life is Strange vibes as well which in my opinion is an upscaled, modernized version of a point and click game anyway. My memories of that game are foggy at best though so it’s entirely possible my mind is glossing over the finer points. At any rate, both games seemed to be properly filled with teenage angst and hard hitting subject matter so that’s where I drew the connection I suppose.
Let me start by saying that the writing throughout Perfect Tides was phenomenal and refreshingly professional. Each character was complex and their dialogue detailed much more about them than even their plot relevance required. I loved hearing Mara’s insights into the various people, and even objects, she encountered. Almost everything you could see on screen was interactive in some way, so whether you needed it gameplay-wise or not there was always some sort of flavor text. I will say that it wasn’t always apparent what you were supposed to be doing and I did end up wandering around trying to find that one person or thing that would trigger progression, but thankfully Mara’s world is a small one and I didn’t typically have to wander around long enough to get frustrated. Also while there were plenty of puzzle aspects to keep you engaged none of them were terribly taxing which I appreciated. I was all about the story with this game and I’m not ashamed to say it.
The amount of character development definitely had hills and valleys, but I do feel that you got out what you put in for the most part with each of the NPC characters. Obviously, the more you explored them and their surroundings the more you were privy to and therefore could make a difference in how Mara would react to them especially if given a choice to make. I liked that there were different ways to use items that would change how the story went forward as well, like drying the peas or eating them with Simon. The depth of change an act like this would cause was never a big one but it did dovetail some paths nonetheless.
The biggest complaint I have about this game is that it isn’t doing anything different from others of its ilk. Which isn’t really a terrible thing in the end, but in a sea of point and click adventures there has to be some sort of draw. Luckily the story and writing are well done, as I mentioned earlier, so if someone is looking for more of their favorite style of game, especially one deep rooted in nostalgia then Perfect Tides is a great option.
My favorite part to be honest was all the early 2000 throwback references. I had completely forgotten that Fruitopia even existed and now I’m dying for a glass of the strawberry flavor! The sound of the dial-up internet, as well as Mara hoping no one was on the phone while logging on, definitely made me wince and feel grateful we’ve advanced well beyond those terrible days.
I also appreciate that no subject was off the table and that language was not watered down in any way. I respected the effort put into making the story feel not only relatable but also realistic. Highschool kids can be savages beyond my adult comprehension and I was glad to see none of that was glossed over. There were so many instances where Mara’s behavior and attitude towards the world mimicked my own teenage tribulations and secondhand embarrassment washed over my brain. “Oh no Mara, please don’t sit on that boy’s lap! He’s acting so clearly like a creep!!”
Overall I think it’s safe to say that I enjoyed my time with Perfect Tides. It was an interesting story with both feet set firmly on the side of reality. Half the draw for me personally was how relatable the story was and though not everyone may be able to draw from experience I think as far as point and click adventures go, if that’s what you are in the market for then you won’t be disappointed either way.
If you’re interested in checking out Perfect Tides yourself you can find it on Steam.