Femida, I object! – First Sip Review
Femida is a Judge Simulator game developed by Art Interactive and published by Roman Loznevoy. However, to be more specific the game is developed by Roman Loznevoy’s Art Interactive and then published by Loznevoy himself.
As a judge or law-simulator Femida (a name associated with the blind statue of justice which roughly translates as “wise”) the game is heavily dialogue-driven. The basic story itself is fairly solid, a dystopian cite state was run by a totalitarian government. But a violent revolution has led to the previous government being ousted and replaced by a new attempt at a republic.
However, this change happened over a tumultuous year, and as it is still fresh a lot of the fallout is still occurring. One of the main things is the judgment of the previous government, and as most of the previous officials were corrupt they have been replaced. Your character Demian Mardoch is given the chance to act as a judge for the historic case and agrees as both payment and prestige are supposed to be plentiful. But these aren’t the only reasons he accepts. Demian’s father disappeared during the uprising and he wants answers.
Unfortunately, the execution of this story isn’t as good as the idea. The game was apparently written in Russian and then translated. And it shows. While spelling on most of the words seems to be fine. The grammar is another matter. Numerous times I was sort of lost in the long drawn out dialogue due to awkward phrasing. Case in point the former dictator who is referred to in various job titles only. While the game does justify it with a line about a law being decreed where his name should not be spoken. Unlike “he who must not be named” it just comes across clunky here. And for a game that is mostly about the dialogue issues like that are a real problem.
The art in the game is similarly hit and miss. While most of the game is static images the level of detail is spotty. Some images will have an object with a decent amount of detail and a very bland background. Other images look like the entire thing was just slapped together as placeholder art. Nothing in the game comes across as looking particularly bad, nor particularly good. Overall it’s fairly bland and forgettable, like a mid-range flash game only without the animation.
As I’ve mentioned a few times now, the game is largely dialogue. The fonts used are generally pretty easy to read but also quite bland. A lot of the dialogue also comes in quite lengthy paragraphs so occasionally you’ll get a wall of text. The colors are also generally fairly washed out and dull. Which fits with the style of the game but doesn’t make it any easier to sit through.
For me, the sound is probably the best-handled aspect of the game. And really that’s not saying a lot. While the music is quite nice, with some noir-detective music not too dissimilar from Frog Detective 2. However, the music is only appropriate with the scene sometimes. Occasionally you’ll hear an upbeat sort of swing-jazz beat while you read dialogue about medical issues. Or a fairly dark and epic piece of music while you’re on the bland menu screen. Honestly, it feels like the developer grabbed some stock music or paid for some already existing pieces that they liked and just shoved them into the game regardless of whether they belong or not.
While I do find Frog Detective’s soundtrack to have more charm and memorability I don’t mind this soundtrack either. It’s just a shame how often the music doesn’t match the scene.
Sound effects naturally feel pretty stock as well, which isn’t too much of an issue here. A lot of point-and-click dialogue-based games will tend to opt for stock sounds.
The game doesn’t have any voice-acting either. This is unsurprising if you’re familiar with how much voice acting can cost to implement especially when a game like this is mostly dialogue.
Gameplay is a really loose term here. While you do interact with the game, selecting options, selecting documents, and the courtroom scenes. However, mostly you’ll be reading, a lot of reading. The game generally plays out like this.
The scene starts, you read dialogue setting the scene and introducing characters. Characters talk to each other and you read it. A question is asked, you have a few options to read through. You select an option and then read the dialogue that comes from it. You go to your office where you can perform an investigation about your missing father. The investigation involves reading documents. You prepare for the court case. The preparation involves reading documents. You go to court and interview witnesses, asking them questions, and reading the answers. A score is kept for the evidence of both parties. When you feel you have a sufficient number and enough knowledge to make a ruling you make your ruling. The sentence is called and you find out what others think about your judgment. You then go to the next scene and cycle again.
During the court cases, the audience (depicted by silhouettes) sometimes get rowdy. If this happens you can bang your gavel to call order, which drops the meter on the side of the screen. The cases also have a timer that seems sort of counter-intuitive because the game wants you to read as much as possible but then rushes you through it? Both the timer and the gavel mechanic feel sort of tacked on. Like they were afterthoughts because the courtroom wasn’t interactive enough.
Femida has an interesting concept and setting. However, unfortunately, it comes across as more of a poorly translated novel than a game. The shifts in tone are somewhat jarring taking you from “funny” loading messages to a risque situation with an old friend (while you have a wife and child at home mind you) and then overloads you with political and judicial information. The sense of humor in the game is another mixed bag. Most likely a lot of it is literally lost in translation along with the grammatical issues they are trying to weed out. And with that I come to the most positive aspect of the game, they have been doing updates. However, if I’m being honest I’m not sure if any amount of updates will fix the key issue I have with the game just not being engaging enough for me.
I’m not surprised to find that Femida is the first game by Art Interactive on Steam. Because it feels very much like a first attempt. As you progress in the game they open up more things like writing letters and making phone calls. But it still all feels very much like a flash game that you’d normally play for free. However, it does seem to be a lot longer and more involved than most flash games. But the writing and gameplay aren’t the only aspects that make it feel like a first-attempt game.
It also has strange technical issues regarding saving and loading. With a line on the menu that tells you that if you want to manually save you must do so at the start of a scene. If they couldn’t get mid-scene saves to work then why not remove the manual save feature and replace it with a prompt at the start of a scene asking if you would like to save.
In Coffee Terms
Femida is like sitting down with a friend’s first attempt at making coffee. It’s mostly bland and lacks the hallmark of a good coffee. You know they tried but it doesn’t make it taste any better. And to make matters worse they made a whole pot of it so you have something to drink while you read their very wordy first-draft manuscript.
Femida Review Summary
One half of the YouTube brother duo, The Game Bros with Sirhc and Ar0n, Chris is a lover of games, movies and other great things you can do from home.
Coffee of choice: I like the sweeter kinds, mixed with chocolate, coconut, caramel etc. but I won’t turn down a flat white or a straight black either.