The Average Gamer

The Act Review (iPad)

I previewed The Act a few months back, saying that it’s “a charming interactive cartoon with a very Hanna-Barbera-does-silent-movies feel.” I’d absolutely stand by that statement with a short addendum; there are some really stupid sequences along the way.

Edgar’s your leading man in this story. Each sequence opens with a clapperboard, continuing the old-time film theme. You help him woo his chosen women, controlling the strength of his actions by drawing long or short strokes across the touch screen. It takes a while but you do eventually feel the difference between a “strong” command (leaping across the table to plant a wet sloppy kiss on your nurse’s beautiful face) and a “weak” one (waving subtly and winking from afar). Helpfully, there is a small delay between Edgar’s action and his target’s reaction. If you accidentally go too far, you can pull it back quickly with little or no penalty.

Much of the joy comes in watching Edgar’s story unfold with his comical animation, so there’s no scoring in the game. You either succeed or fail each sequence and the end result is rated on the number of “takes” you needed, i.e. sequences failed. Most of the sequences are lovely little standalone adventures as Edgar tries to sneak past some doctors, woo his lady friend and not kill his boss by accident (yes, really). One scene in the middle, however, almost ruined the game for me.

In this particular section, a “hilarious” sequence of events results in Edgar desperately pushing a hospital trolley through busy corridors. You have to swish left and right to avoid mop buckets, elderly patients, annoying children and all the other detritus of a comedy hospital. The first part was fine. The second part I failed almost a dozen times before realising that I was now pulling the trolley backwards*.


Yes, I was somehow expected to predict what hazards were behind me without (as far as I could tell) any way to turn the camera around. I got through it by remembering what moves I’d made on the last failed attempt but seriously, guys. If you ever find yourself designing a mode that can only be solved through trial and error… stop and ask yourself why that’s fun.

The slow-paced story scenes and slapstick that make up the rest of the game were a nice change from the twitch gaming of so many others. This action-filled section simply didn’t fit.

Thankfully, it only happened once and the rest of the game more than makes up for the blip. Sure, some scenes of the story scenes can be frustratingly complex, with your co-stars needs impossible to predict. That’s okay because even the failure animations are fun. I probably wouldn’t play it through twice to beat my dismal record of 48 takes, but there’s plenty of simple joy to be had in following the story. I’d recommend The Act to anyone.

The Act is available now for iOS 4.0 or later.

Curious about the verdict? Read our review policy.