“You are waking from a stupor that feels like a chronic headache after a week in Vegas. You notice your right palm is covered with dried blood, but you can neither see nor feel any wounds. You feel a sharp pain on your left forearm. Rolling up the sleeve, you find a tiny puncture on your arm. ‘Has a doctor injected me with a medicine?’ Then you realize you can’t remember who you are!! You have no idea where you are and why you’re here. You have no memory… whatsoever!!”
And thus the game begins. Who you are, where you are, and what happened to you are just a few of the mysteries you must solve in the Nintendo Entertainment System’s most in-depth crime thriller, Déjà Vu. Déjà Vu could best be described as Memento meets Maniac Mansion, due to the subject matter and the means of game control. The premise of the game is simple enough: Follow clues and examine evidence along your trek to figure out who you are.
To be blunt, Déjà Vu is not for everybody. In many aspects, it is good. In other aspects, it is downright crappy. I’m not going to give away any part of the story, considering the two of you who actually give a shit. Instead, I will just tell you a bit about the game itself.
It is far advanced for its time, function-wise, so therefore we have another cursor-based control system. Basically, you click on one of the actions from your list and then click on the object you wish to use from the view window. You can move along like this for a while, collecting items and making discoveries upon examination. Along your investigative journey, you will run into muggers, bums, whores, and the fuzz, who will all try to impede your progress. You can also use a taxi to get around town and a gun to kill those who stand in your way. In short, the game has almost limitless ways for you to utilize your time. Unfortunately, the very act of playing Déjà Vu can sometimes be a very unwise use of time, as the game becomes very discouraging and downright boring. If stuck at a dead end for an extended period of time, interest is lost almost immediately, and the style of graphics are not the type to keep you sticking around, either.
The visuals are somewhat lacking, as there are no interesting backgrounds or big shiny things to occupy your feeble brain. Rather, there is a series of still-framed scenery shots in the corner of the screen, the rest being your list of options and item inventory. What’s more disappointing is the fact that when you encounter and enemy and you wish to attack him, you see only the word “BLAM!” for a gunshot and “SOCKO!” for a punch. You can tell they spared no expense for special effect graphics in this game, nosir…
One word to describe game control? Asshole. Game control = asshole. It is slow, shaky, and mind-damaging. When you have to do the same action over and over and you have to do the same four steps again and again and again and again and again you just want to rip the game out of the NES, take a big bite out of it, and smash the rest of it into your throbbing skull. An example of this would be near the end, when you have to take out your medicine, pour it into the capsule, take the new capsule, swallow the capsule, and take out your medicine again for another dosage. It may not seem like a lot here, but when you have to do it 10 times in a row with all your items on different pages of your notebook and a slow freaking cursor speed, it can get to your head very quickly.
The sound is awful. Déjà Vu features a repetitive, low-quality soundtrack that makes you wonder if the composers had ears. The less said about the sound effects the better. Don’t get me started on the sound effects. I think there are only two in the game anyway. There’s the small bang for the gun and the quiet thump for a punch. Take it easy there, Déjà Vu, don’t knock yourself out or anything like that. In the realm of replay, all I can say is that there really is no realm of replay. It’s a crime mystery. Once you solve it, that’s it. When you play again, it’s gonna be the same thing. The second time you play will be the same as the first and the 82nd. The game is methodical. You have to do everything in a set order to get anywhere. If you replay this game, you are a total buffoon. Then again, I sort of felt like one when I realized I was actually playing it at all.
In conclusion, Déjà Vu is a creative game with a quite decent story, ambitious functions, and limitless potential. It is a very great shame that it was illustrated, composed, and presented so very, very poorly. For the most part, the game is slow, redundant, and extremely boring. Who could expect any less from a no-name company? A no-name company…and…a terrible game? Déjà Vu…
“You are waking from a stupor that feels like a chronic headache after a week in Vegas…”