Oof. There's no reason to beat around the bush with this one; Adam's Venture: Origins is an ugly, ugly game. In fact, graphically, it's one of the worst-looking titles we've ever seen on the Switch. It's muddy, glitchy and aesthetically dull. There's constant shimmering, shockingly blurry low-resolution graphics, appalling textures and the crappiest shadows imaginable. It is a bad-looking game, full stop.
Graphics, of course, aren't everything – but they are important. Adam's Venture: Origins looks so completely substandard that it's a constant, overwhelming negative that submerges the entire experience in nastiness and irrevocably taints the game. It's possible that its sheer wretched hideousness would be forgivable if it were tied to solid gameplay, but unfortunately, it simply isn't.
Adam's Venture: Origins is often compared to Sony's flagship Uncharted series, but that's a laugh, no matter how tenuous. It's a little more in line with the tone of something like the brilliant Broken Sword series, but doesn't even come close to Charles Cecil's evocative, spirited adventures. Taking control of – yes – Adam Venture himself (no relation to Adult Swim's seminal Venture Bros TV show, sadly), you must trot the globe, solving puzzles and uncovering mysteries. Adam's wisecracks are half-hearted, a reflection of the product he finds himself in. His attitude towards his companion Evelyn is, let's just say... retrograde. The adventure (Adam Venture; adventure – get it!?) he takes on is a banal, lifeless pretender to the thrones of Lara Croft and Nathan Drake; hell, even Rick Dangerous was more exciting.
As for the actual gameplay, it's so fragmented, so piecemeal that it's outright frustrating. From the very beginning, you're running around the environment expecting an adventure, but the puzzles you're given to solve are closer to something like the Professor Layton series, just with the charm surgically excised. For example, one of the first things you have to do is rearrange some ladders in a strictly 2D lane-based puzzle in order to climb a bookshelf. Realistically, the ladders could be climbed in any order with no difficulty, or the shelves scaled without the use of any ladder at all, but the game demands you get it exactly right. And to trigger this puzzle you walk up to the bookshelf and hit X. Why even build any kind of 3D world around this sort of thing when all you really do is walk up to stuff and press a button to switch to a flat, one-time puzzle?
After this, you're pushed into a bit of actual platforming. Well, sort of. You never really have to actually jump over anything. It's more that you'll walk up to a ledge then hit A while standing beneath it. You can run and jump, but doing this towards such a ledge will cause you to bounce off the wall in an unusual and glitchy manner. It's totally inorganic. There's some swinging with a grappling hook, too, but it might as well be a cutscene. Stand next to hole. Press button. Swing over hole. It's completely unengaging.
This approach continues in truly baffling ways – scenes fade into scenes with almost no narrative connection. One second you're in Oxford, the next you're driving through France watching a witless, apathetic cutscene of thin-gruel banter between the hateful leads. The car pulls up at a blockage and you get out and take control within this open, sweeping vista... and the only thing there is to do is walk up to a truck and solve a rudimentary puzzle with no time pressure or fail state. Then it's back in the car, fade to next scene.
Is it a financial thing? Adam's Venture: Origins is an updated compilation of three episodic games from ten years ago – were they even worse before? Did the publishers have to make back some of the development budget? What happened here, and who thought it was okay to release it in this state? Sure, it'd be one thing if Adam's Venture: Origins was in any way attractive to look at – it'd still suck out loud, but at least it'd suck in a pretty sort of way. But it doesn't. It's a crummy port of a crummy game, and it shouldn't be on the Switch.
There's no combat, which would be fine if there was any other kind of tension. Just when you think it couldn't get worse, there are stealth sections with as poorly-defined rules as we've ever encountered. We'd call it laughably bad, but we didn't laugh. It's actually downright difficult to look at in places, due to the game looking like vaseline had been smeared all over the screen. We also got ourselves stuck in the scenery more than once, requiring a reload.
Positives? Well, some of the art design would be OK if the game had any visual fidelity, which it doesn't. A couple of the puzzles are kind of okay-ish, we guess – but not worth wading through the gunk in order to experience.
Adam's Venture: Origins is among the worst games we've ever played and it doesn't even have the decency to be awful in an amusing way. There are so, so many great games you can buy for the same kind of price. Please buy them instead. Or just throw the money into a river and watch it disappear; even that experience would be more rewarding than playing this turgid mess of a video game. Technically, narratively and mechanically inept, Adam's Venture: Origins on Switch is disgraceful.