Despite its name, MODERN TALES: AGE OF INVENTION is set in the year 1900. As one might expect with steampunk, there are steam trains, airships and crazy gadgets.
Emily Patterson is a headstrong, independent and educated female protagonist, who ditches skirts and corsets in favor of men’s clothing. She uses a parachute, understands chemistry, and repairs pipes, flat tires and telegraph lines. When presented with a freshly-caught fish, she says, “I’m no housewife!”
When her father and his colleagues go missing from the Paris expo, Emily pursues a suspicious character named d’Albignac who blackmails inventors and steals their inventions. This reminded me a little bit of the 2015 movie April and the Extraordinary World, which is also a steampunk story about a daughter’s adventure with disappearing scientists.
In MODERN TALES, Albert Einstein is a love interest who helps Emily steal an airship from Zeppelin himself. Coco Chanel is a fashionable friend. Ferdinand Porsche sells Emily a car.
But don’t expect MODERN TALES to be a history lesson. I Googled things that appeared in the game, such as duct tape, disc records and airplanes. A non-adhesive form of “duck tape” was in use in 1900, but the sticky version didn’t actually come along until years later. Disc record players existed but many people still had phonographs with wax cylinders in 1900. And despite d’Albignac’s clever plane/snowmobile, the first airplane flight didn’t actually happen until 1903, with stable, sustained flight in 1905.
The story and voice acting are a bit cheesy, typical of games in this genre. The scenes are lovely but the characters seem slapdash at times and look as if they’re drawn by different artists from scene to scene.
The images above are all Coco Chanel. The images below are the protagonist, Emily. I like her promotional image (left) much more than her actual in-game character. Is she a blonde? A redhead? What’s wrong with her boobs?
Overall, I had a good time with MODERN TALES. I found its quirks and anachronisms amusing. The puzzles and hidden object games are fun, the game controls are easy to use, and I didn’t experience any glitches or gameplay issues. I played on expert difficulty and the challenges felt balanced, neither too easy nor too difficult.
Don’t miss the bonus chapter, unlocked after playing the main game. Things get really bizarre!
MODERN TALES is a 2017 hidden object puzzle adventure, developed by Orchid Games and published by Artifex Mundi for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch. Rated E 10+ for ages 10 and up.
~ J.L. Hilton
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