The classic adventure genre never died. It simply evolved. Point-and-click turned into more cinematic, choice-driven experiences. Then point-and-click returned again as indie developers continue to pump out new age retro-style games. Dropsy, 2064: Read Only Memories, and anything from Wadjet Eye Games are great examples of this. Unfortunately, The Low Road doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Set in a 1970s backdrop, The Low Road is a comedy spy thriller that aims to test your puzzle-solving skills as much as tickle your funny bone. The story focuses on Noomi Kovacs, a recent spy graduate looking to jump into the field. Unfortunately, there is competition that initially relegates her to being an office pawn. Her tenacity and wits lead her down a rabbit hole involving corporate espionage, a linguistic cult, and everything in-between.
All this sounds great on paper. The story is unique, the visual style stands out, and the characters are endearing enough. Where The Low Road falters, however, is in its puzzles.
Since this is a more traditional point-and-click adventure game, puzzles are expected and aplenty. These are sadly more miss than hit. Almost all puzzle sections are some form of moving a thing (or things) to another thing. This arguably works best when pickpocketing, as it turns into an Operation-like “don’t touch the sides” challenge. The right stick moves Noomi’s hand around while ZL/ZR grab onto objects. This feels finicky at times because of dodgy hit detection and the awkward controls. Otherwise, the best puzzle sections are by far the phone calls. Here you are given a dossier to clue you into proper responses. More of these types of challenges would have been better than wrestling with click-and-drag controls.
What would have really benefited The Low Road when ported to Switch is touchscreen enablement. Solving puzzles would certainly feel better on the hands. The general point-and-click gameplay would simply benefit overall, especially when using items. Pulling them up with the minus button is cumbersome, to say the least.
Whenever the gameplay doesn’t get in the way, you are treated to a fairly fun romp… while it lasts. A full playthrough will take you about 3-4 hours. It would have been nice to get in a few extra chapters instead of being hurried into a twist that doesn’t quite work. The performances are largely enjoyable though. Noomi stands out with her high-octane sass while everyone else is largely good minus a couple of very annoying voices that you’ll find yourself skipping past.
The Low Road seems like it would have been a better short animated film than a video game. The gameplay sections are annoying at worst and bland at best. The crude yet eye-catching animation works with the comedic tone, however, and the characters were fun to spend time with. Unfortunately, we don’t get enough time with them. Perhaps a rework with more phone call puzzles would have elevated it. Otherwise, there are better experiences to be had in the modern point-and-click genre.
A review code was provided by the publisher.