First published in CubedGamers (Printed Edition): June 2016
A Golden Wake lures you in with pretty retro-graphics and an interesting premise that recreates the 1929s Miami real-estate boom. You play Alfie Banks, recently fired from the New York real estate company founded by your father, who moves to Miami after reading about the opportunities emerging in the Sunshine State. So starts a 15 year story arc that follows Banks through his various travails, as he rises and falls, and ultimately redeems himself.
Beyond the premise however, there are a number of flaws with the way A Golden Wake tells its tale. In the majority of games, the main character acts as a proxy for the player, allowing the player to shape the characters morality to fit their own. Those used to playing games in such a way will be left frustrated as they main character makes life changing decisions – decisions designed to push the narrative forward – with such abruptness that the character appears shallow and unlikable.
It’s only when the credits roll that we find out that the characters you meet in Miami were based on real life counterparts, and that Coral Gables is actually a real town. It is then that you realise that A Golden Wake has unfulfilled promise. It is interesting to note that much of the main characters frustration with his life in Miami is the amount of Fetch Quests he is asked to complete at the behest of his superiors. A trope of adventure games – we can at least sympathise with Alfie Banks that no-one in Coral Gables seems willing to do any work!
6/10: A glorious setting and intriguing premise ultimately falls short, but still worth playing.