For a style of game as popular and influential as the MacVenture was, it’s shocking that only four were ever made. I previously covered the first MacVenture, Déjà Vu, and today I’ll discuss the final game in the series, Déjà Vu II. While I’m tempted to copy-paste most of the intro to my previous coverage of Déjà Vu here for the pun value, I’ll refrain, and just say that I played this as the second half of Déjà Vu I & II: The Casebooks of Ace Harding.
Déjà Vu II picks up shortly after the first game. Like the first game, you wake up in a bathroom with no clue how you got there. The good news is, unlike the first game, you remember you’re Theodore “Ace” Harding, Private Eye (Thus putting you already about 3/4 of the way through the game!). The bad news is that you’ll wish you didn’t know that. It turns out that Joey Siegel, the murdered man from the first Déjà Vu, had ties to the Mob. When he died, $112000 of notorious mobster’s Anthony “Tony” Malone’s money went missing–and since you were one of the last people to interact with Siegel, Malone figures you must have his cash. You have six days to come up with the money, “Or Else.” And just to make sure you don’t try any funny business, Malone has sent his top guard, Stogie Martin, to keep tabs on you. Suffice to say that it’s not a good situation.
The gameplay of Déjà Vu II is the same as the first game in the collection–you point-and-click at objects to perform a default action (Usually looking) on them, and use the icons on the bottom of the screen to collect, put down, use, or otherwise interact with the objects around you.
This game, though, is quite a bit more difficult than the original. I can hear you saying “Well yeah, because you looked up a walkthrough for the first game a ton of years ago and memorized it”. I can’t disagree, but it’s more than the fact I had to stumble through this game on my own (Full disclosure: I remembered certain bits of the game from, yes, reading a walkthrough long ago, before I ever played it. Even then, my memory of the walkthrough didn’t quite match up with what I had to do. Plus, even with that, I eventually had to give up and look up a puzzle solution myself). The most obvious difference is that, while the Game Boy Color version of Déjà Vu didn’t give you a time limit (Unlike the computer versions), this game does put you under a time (Or more accurately, action) limit to come up with the money or pay the price. Besides that, though, there are many more locations and doors that it seems like you should be able to access, but in reality, are just placed there to vex and confuse you. Additionally, a larger proportion of the items are useless, and this can be confusing as well, particularly if you played the first game (Fortunately, for the most part, as with the first game in this collection, the game will stop you from throwing away an essential item) and have expectations for how important certain types of items will be.
Given Déjà Vu’s definition, it’s a poor choice of name for the first game in a series, particularly when the game is such an advancement on its genre. It’s a pretty good choice of name for this game, though. Spoiling as little as possible, you’ll get a sense of Déjà Vu from the first half of this game, as you’ll be required to revisit many of the locales from the original Déjà Vu. But while a lot is similar, a lot has changed, too, requiring you to look at old items in a new way, or to find new paths into various areas that weren’t present in the first game.
The other part of the challenge comes from the fact that, while the original Déjà Vu only had, in my mind, one “moon-logic” puzzle (Which could be skipped if you took an alternate route, if memory serves), Déjà Vu II has several puzzles that make sense when you put it all together in your head and submit to the game’s internal logic, but that you would never think of because they make no sense in reality. There’s another puzzle that, while not difficult to solve per se, restricts you from doing anything else until you do so, which should not happen based on the visuals and what the game describes. Finally, a puzzle was altered in this version to have a more reasonable solution in terms of how you interact with the object to get the component you need later on.
Speaking of descriptions, while they get the point across, there was a distinct lack of proofreading in them. At one point, “Your” is used when it should be “You’re”, and Joey Siegel’s name is misspelled “Siegle” at one point. Much like Rambo, which managed to mis-quote the movie it’s based on, the translation/proofreading errors here confuse me. ICOM, the company that made the original MacVentures, is based in the US, so there shouldn’t have been a language barrier to jump through. Yet there was, and the sloppiness shown in the descriptions, while not enough to cripple the game, is enough to mark it down a notch in my eyes.
Once you know the sequence of events to get through the game, like the first, Déjà Vu II is not a long game, probably taking in the neighborhood of a half hour to complete. Going through it for the first time, actually figuring everything out took me in the neighborhood of 10 hours, and that was with remembering fragments of the walkthrough I read (And, again, eventually just giving up and looking up the solution to one puzzle). I should also mention that, because multiple events in the game are based on a turn limit, it is possible, albeit difficult, to save the game in an unwinnable situation. This version of the game gives you a Continue function in case you forgot to save, but even that will sometimes start you in a place you can’t escape from.
Still, in all, Déjà Vu II is an engaging, challenging point-and-click adventure. While some of the puzzles are devious, the clues to solve them are all provided in the game, with the possible exception of how to actually get to the ending. While you’ll know what to do on a broad level, figuring out the specifics may descend into trial-and-error at that point. In spite of that, though, I enjoyed puzzling my way through the game, and if you like point-and-click adventures or puzzle games, you will too. If you want to play this specific version, EBay is your best bet. You can also crawl around the Internet for some of the computer versions if you don’t care about what version you play and/or their legality.