In Voyeur, an unseen main character is a private investigator who has been hired to stalk the house of a wealthy businessman who is about to run for the office of president of the United States, looking for evidence of wrong doing by pointing a video camera at his mansion and taping everything possible. Like most of the early FMV games, the movie segments are tied together through the small amount of interactive segments that the games offer. In this case, the interaction comes in the case of scanning the mansion that the unseen main character is stalking, looking for icons that appear to signal that the room can be observed. The icons consist of a video icon, which means that the room is in full view and that a video will be recorded, an ear icon, which means that the blinds in that room are down and only audio can be recorded, and a magnifying glass icon, which leads to the most troublesome form of spying. The idea here is sound, in that evidence is gathered from looking through files or reading e-mails on computers. However, all the action is supposed to take place through a video camera, so these actions don't make much sense. I appreciate the addition of these elements, as they do add a bit more actual gameplay to the game, but the idea isn't executed very well.
The plot is pretty basic. The businessman's family has skeletons in their closet, and in the end a crime is committed. Each person in the house can be linked to the crime, so it's important to tape as much as possible in order to find the evidence to link the perpetrator to the crime. As the name of the game suggests, some of the scenes you record are sexual in nature, but it's all pretty timid (although it was certainly not in 1993), mostly to show the promiscuity of the businessman's neice Chloe.
The game juxtoposes the video on top of digitized environments, which look quite dated by today's standards. It's certainly still playable, but like all early full motion video games, it hasn't aged very well. The acting is actually pretty good here, minus a few characters who offer cheesy deliveries, such as the police detective. The wealthy businessman is played by veteran actor Robert Culp, and he and the rest of his family deliver their lines in a manner akin to a soap opera, which when juxtaposed with the music, which also brings across the feeling of a soap opera, actually fits the game quite well.
Playing through the game is actually quite quick, as you do your taping over the course of a few days, and each scene begins at a set time. You only have a short amount of time to scan the mansion to find as much activity as you can before the camera's batteries run out. There is a gauge at the side of the screen that indicates how much power is left. After the batteries run out, the opportunities to record at that time end and the scene skips forward in time. It's important to record as much as possible, because some scenes won't be seen unless you see a particular scene before it.
At the end of the game, when the crime is committed, your evidence is sent to the police and the outcome depends on how much of the crime you taped. In addition, it's also possible to send the evidence to the victim in order to stop the crime from ever happening. There are also multiple versions of the crime, as the story changes randomly on each playing. The game is very short, so the addition of multiple endings with different story outcomes is a definite plus.
Voyeur is an interesting early experiment in full motion video games. The acting is quite good for the most part, as is the music which goes well with the acting style. The gameplay mostly consists of finding rooms in the mansion that can be recorded, with a few scenes with actual investigation. Actually being able to investigate beyond recording is nice, but the execution leaves to be desired. It's short, but there are multiple ways to solve the crime, and the story is randomized with each play, leading to different endings with different stories. Voyeur is not a great game, but it's not really a bad one either. It's good for what it is, an early full motion video experiment that delivers on it's plot premise. If you want to give this one a try, grab the DOS version, which can be found relatively cheap on eBay, and can be played through on modern computers through ScummVM.
3 out of 5