Capsule Review: Insecticide

A comedic noir platformer/shooter/adventure game set in a world populated by anthropomorphic insects - you play as an “Insecticide” detective, equivalent to a “Homicide” detective in the real world. The noir setting is presented in a light-heartedly satirical way with a near-constant stream of insect jokes and puns, the cumulative effect of which can be enjoyable despite most of them individually not being particularly funny. The gameplay alternates between investigation levels that play as a 3D point-and-click adventure game and action levels that play as a third-person platformer/shooter - and neither mode is that great. The investigation levels are bogged down by moon logic (it’s not quite disguise puzzle from Gabriel Knight III crazy, but it’s not sane) and sluggish dialog that you can’t really speed up. On the PC, where I played the game, the action levels are basically competent but lack polish - guns don’t feel good to use and you can’t really tell when enemies are taking damage. On the DS version (which I have not played), the hardware limitations apparently cause these sections to fare much worse, with most reviews complaining of their slowness, poor visiblity, and bad controls.

While the DS version is the full game, the PC port was split into two parts - and the second was never released (although game lead Michael Levine managed to get all the cinematics uploaded to YouTube). This is unfortunate as the game is better on PC, with improved action sequences and fully animated and voiced cutscenes. Insecticide is thus left without a definitive version, instead having an incomplete PC version and an inferior DS version. Neither one lives up to the clear potential in the unusual premise and well-realized world.

I Stopped Playing When: After playing the PC version for ninety minutes or so and finding both the action sections and adventure sections passable at best, I decided it wasn’t worth continuing since I wouldn’t get closure on the story or its central mystery.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.