Some paintings are better left unfinished.
Aspectus: Rinascimento Chronicles, from its description alone, seems like it would be an incredibly interesting tale through the Netherlands in the year 1520. There is an evil group of demons known as the Destroyers of Art that has come to destroy the Aspectus, Mr. Bruesen’s “perfect painting,” and you’ll need to help him finish his masterpiece before the demons have their way. However, in its actual execution, Aspectus is nothing more than a sloppy mess.
Aspectus is a point and click adventure game, and comes with some dated, even laughably bad graphics to match. Characters are static, but do have real voice-acting, which is one of the only good things Aspectus has going for it. The game sees you working your way around a rather small village, collecting a slew of various objects that can later be combined into items that you’ll need to access new areas, and complete a magical ritual to finally finish the Aspectus painting once and for all.
While you’ll be able to zoom in on various locations, you won’t actually participate in any form of traditional hidden object scene, as you’ll just hover over a fairly empty canvas and wait for your cursor to change into a hand to know what you can pick up. The on-screen interface is entirely lackluster, giving you no idea as to where to travel next, and your in-game journal doesn’t help much either, giving you little more than a simple recap of your last conversation with one of the game’s other characters and showing you a progress bar that fills as you complete the game.
The items that you’ll collect go into your inventory, which, when opened, takes up the entire screen. You’ll be able to place various items into a crafting area in the middle of the menu to combine them into new tools. However, for the most part, you’ll be left to discern the “recipes” on your own.
The first item you place (if it is able to be crafted) will show you a text name at the end of the equation as to what you’re building. For instance, placing down Nails shows you that you’re building a ladder. However, once you place another item into the equation, you aren’t told if this is correct, leaving you to work with each item one by one to see if it triggers the same “ladder” equation before actually combining anything. This is a tedious and even annoying process that could have been so much easier had there been some sort of in-game clue as to which item you should be building at any one point in time, rather than being stuck with over a dozen seemingly worthless items and no clue where to go next.
To make matters worse, the majority of the rest of your time with Aspectus will be spent completing one of three mini-games, two of which are far too difficult to enjoy. The first (the best of the three) is an alchemy game that sees you moving a colored liquid from the top of a set of tubes and glass containers to its matching colored flask at the bottom (the liquid can change colors along the way).
A second mini-game challenges you to realign holes in constantly spinning gears. Your interaction with the gears is through changing their speed to be faster or slower, but as the gears can’t be stopped entirely, it’s a process of trial and error until you eventually click fast enough to line up the three holes. Finally, a lock-picking game sees you moving sets of tumblers with the goal of lining up the horizontal openings on each set, but as they have infinite momentum, you’ll need to frantically click on each set, sending it back up or down until everything lines up long enough to actually unlock the chest or door.
Aspectus: Rinascimento Chronicles is a doomed game, right from its beginning, with a terribly cluttered Menu and long loading times. The game is lacking almost entirely in an attention to detail, the mini-games are tedious, overused, and even frustrating, and there are little to no redeeming qualities to speak of whatsoever, outside of what could have been a great story. If you were offered more help from the game itself, even if it just came in the form of a Hint or Skip button, things would have turned out much differently. As it stands, however, everyone should avoid this one.