Full Throttle Remastered is dark, cinematic and by far one of the most ambitious point-and-click adventure games to have ever come out. Tim Schafer’s bike fantasy was innovative back in 1995, but its compact story and excellent pacing feel even more realized with updated graphics and audio. With very little fat on its bones, Full Throttle Remastered feels ahead of its time, and is a stark reminder of the importance of good storytelling over long drawn-out gameplay sequences.
One of the main complaints one could lobby against Full Throttle is that it is a very short game. I beat it in under four hours, but those who have played it before would probably get even less time out of it. However, length doesn’t mean everything, and despite this being a short game in Tim Schafer standards, it’s perhaps the best paced of his adventure titles. Following Ben Throttle, current leader of the Full Throttle Polecats, him and his gang are quickly thrust into a world of corruption and greed. There’s a murderous plot about to unfold and Ben must do what he can to stop the culprit from getting away with it.
With a fantastic cast of voice actors, Full Throttle really comes alive. Roy Conrad brings a vulnerability and strength to Ben Throttle, while other noteworthy voice actors help amplify this dark adventure. Mark Hamill voices the main antagonist of the game, Ripburger, and is perfectly suited in the villainous role, next to Hamilton Camp who voices Malcolm Corley – the owner of Corley Motors and the man who employs the Polecats at the beginning of this entire adventure. There’s so much depth to the performances but its all done with a self-awareness. These are caricatures of characters you’d see in a plot like this, but with a nuance delivered in their performances that elevate the material given to them. Then there’s Maureen, who is voiced by Kath Soucie, that isn’t a caricature, but feels like a far more interesting character than a lot of the others. She serves as Ben’s ally in the game, and their conversations with one another are endearing and entertaining.
The story is also brought alive by its setting, which is not explained to the player. It’s not even really clear what state the world around Ben Throttle is in, other than that motorcycles are not really that prominent much anymore because hover cars exist and have made roads fairly obsolete. There is still a need for roads, but you get the feeling through the minimal way that everything is presented, that Ben is fighting for more than just his gang; he’s fighting against change. The world-weariness in Conrad’s performance shows a man that has seen a lot, has his own opinions of everything, and isn’t concerned with changing the world. He’s concerned with keeping his world unscathed. The power of great storytelling is more present than ever in Full Throttle, which makes a strong case for itself in its opening scenes.
It’s a simple tale, but being a part of the LucasArts adventure game movement means it has a lot of quirk to it as well, with a willingness to lean into its weirder bits. These generally show up in the gameplay sequences comprised mostly of puzzle segments, as expected. These are not the obtuse puzzles of Grim Fandango, or the ambitious ones of Day of the Tentacle (both of which have previously been remastered). Instead, players solve fairly simple ones but they will still involve some inventive thinking at times. They make sense at all times, and that’s kind of why they end up being far simpler than usual. Which is welcome when the main hook of the game is its narrative.
However, many shortcuts are available to players in order to advance the plot without actually engaging with the game. Those fairly simple puzzles are made all the more easy by the ability to just hit a button and have any area that is interactive become highlighted. I’m not entirely sure why it exists since players also have a cursor that changes when it is over something that can be interacted with. Sure, not everything is useful, but the highlighted objects are the same in usefulness. It’s just a frustrating thing to include when the game has already made the effort of creating logical puzzles – with the exception of a few where highlighting an object wouldn’t help anyways.
It’s all the more infuriating when the game is already also a LucasArts adventure title. What I mean by that, is there is no fail state. If you die, the game just lets you replay the sequence. What is exciting about Full Throttle versus other adventure games by the company is that it includes action sequences that could result in your character’s death. Unfortunately, the only fear you actually have is that you might need to replay a segment that you aren’t quite able to figure out, because death isn’t an option but the game will set you on a time limit. These are mostly cinematic moments, as opposed to the more mundane action instances in the game.
Those more “mundane” sequences though, are one of the reasons Full Throttle stands out as an innovative adventure title. As a biker, Ben is forced to take on other bikers on occasion. These are done through Road Rash-like moments that let the player move their bicycle around (with some minor handling issues I found) and hit other bikers, attempting to knock them off their cycle. It’s fun, but also very brief. What makes it work though is that each biker is part of a specific gang, and if that’s the case, then you have to handle them differently. For example, the Cavefish can knock you off your bike pretty quickly with an oil spill, so it is best to keep your distance and then take them out when they’re not leaning too far down on their bike. Just to add salt to the wound though, the game offers the ability to skip those too. Which is a bit more understandable since point-and-click adventure players probably wouldn’t be that interested in playing through action scenes.
They are extremely ambitious moments in a game that feels far grander than its counterparts. The art design is dark, and because the game used both the SCUMM engine and INSANE engine, there’s a unique mix of 3D models and hand-drawn art that elevates the game’s presentation. It is occasionally jarring to see the 3D models though, because as well as the game has done to modernize almost everything about itself, there’s still a dated quality to seeing those models. It’s one of the few things where I feel like Full Throttle Remastered doesn’t quite nail when updating the game. But everything else in the way the game is presented is more beautiful with the updated look. As was the case with Day of the Tentacle Remastered, the game benefits greatly from its updated look, but unlike Day of the Tentacle, the gameplay doesn’t feel as antiquated because it is far simpler.
It’s hard to turn down the package that Full Throttle Remastered is offering. With updated visuals, audio, and use interface options, on top of a developer’s commentary that, as always, is interesting and insightful, this is another carefully detailed update of an incredible game. I find that Full Throttle Remastered could be appreciated even more nowadays because of its narrative-over-gameplay approach. That’s not to say that the game suffers from simplifying its gameplay, but it benefits by putting a ton of effort into its story and pacing. With more and more games accepting the importance of narrative to video games, it is exciting to revisit a game that did it well even earlier than most.
A Steam Product Key for Full Throttle Remastered was provided by Double Fine for the Purpose of this Review.
Full Throttle Remastered
- An incredible story with amazing performances
- Exceptional world building
- Puzzles are logical and don't interrupt the pacing
- Ambitious Road Rash-like action sequences
- Updated visuals, audio and developer's commentary help modernize a classic
- Handling on vehicles is sometimes a bit wonky
- 3D models stand out as still feeling kind of dated
- The game is made far too easy with shortcuts for puzzles and skippable action scenes