Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

Who Killed Sam Rupert: Virtual Murder 1 Review

Who Killed Sam Rupert Virtual Murder 1 Featured

Who Killed Sam Rupert Virtual Murder 1 Boxart

Developer: Creative Multimedia Corporation
Publisher: Creative Multimedia Corporation
Platform: PC – Macintosh, Windows 3.0

It’s pretty obvious that people love a good murder mystery. Why else would we have copious literature, TV shows, and an unfortunate obsession with real life unsolved crimes? That’s why it makes total sense when the earliest FMV-enabled PC games focused on murder scenarios. Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 was just the start of an entire four game series by Creative Multimedia Corporation.

As you might guess, Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 focuses on the murder of a Mr. Rupert. This restaurant owner was well-liked by some and, unfortunately enough, detested by multiple people close to him. It’s up to you to determine who exactly killed the man and why. The game throws a tremendous amount of red herrings at you. However, it’s laid on so thick that most should pick up on avoiding the “obvious” path.

Who Killed Sam Rupert Virtual Murder 1 Featured

In some ways, the game is an early 90’s version of Her Story. However, instead of just getting the FMV stories of eight key suspects, you’re also free to dig through police-collected records as needed. That includes terse interviews with restaurant patrons on the night of the murder, lab details, and more. Many found this utterly dull (according to reviews of the era) but it was enjoyable enough to me.

The key failing point for all this searching to unearth clues is that Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 is timed. There are only six in-game hours to learn about the case and successfully peg a murderer. Because of the arbitrary restriction, you’ll need to play through multiple times. Despite very clearly showing its age with postage stamp sized videos and relatively simple murder/motive, Who Killed Sam Rupert – Virtual Murder 1 is a neat way to spend an hour or two.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Life is Strange Episode 5 – Polarized Review

lifeisstrangeepisode5

lifeisstrangeepisode5

Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, PS4 Xbox 360, Xbox One

Life is Strange is a series that I’ve been having a real on-and-off relationship with. It surprised me right out of the gate in a fantastic way. However, as the series went on, things felt drawn out. I can’t say I expected the conclusion the game provided right from the start. However, by Episode 4 it seemed pretty clear what DONTNOD Entertainment had been hinting at the entire time.

Episode 5 – Polarized is quite a ride, despite being the shortest of the episodes yet. Or, perhaps it is because of the brevity that they finally cut out all the fluff and provided a high-intensity episode from beginning to end. Now, it’s worth noting that I am not a huge time travel/sci-fi fan. In fact, I have never seen many of the iconic films or read the well-known books on these topics. Because of this I was tremendously impressed with how this game handled the results of Max’s time traveling. It was cool, creepy, and kept me on edge wondering what could possibly happen next.

lifeisstrangeepisode5

One of the weirdest aspects of the series for me is how absolutely dark things got by Episode 5. It’s not that the early game was particularly cutesy and fluffy, but it almost seemed like it would be a fairly typical (if sci-fi tinged) coming of age story. But then things started to get real — too real. Really disgusting stuff was happening to the students of Blackwell Academy. Even though Episode 5 doesn’t go to the lengths I quite though it would, ti’s still a huge tonal shift from the very beginning.

Was I happy with the conclusion? Sure, but (spoilers) I have heard that all that emphasis on choice in the game is actually for naught as far as the final ending is concerned. I could be wrong, but will discover soon enough for myself. I don’t like the idea that choice in this game is nothing more than a means by which to alter a few sentences that characters say to you throughout the episodes. That’s definitely how it felt, though, and hopefully there is at least a little more to it than that even if the conclusion plays out the same.

Would I recommend Life is Strange to others now that I have completed the series? I think so. Even though I was not in love with everything the game did, it provides an adventure game that is unlike most others on the market. Despite obvious inspirations from modern Telltale titles, it moves in its own directions and creates something unique. I’m very curious to see what DONTNOD does next, whether it be a second season (hopefully with a different cast) or something completely different.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Armikrog Review

Untitled

header

Developer: Pencil Test Studios
Publisher: Versus Evil
Platform: PC – Steam, GOG, Direct2Drive, Green Man Gaming, Nuuvem, Wii U

The Neverhood is a very important game to me. It was one of the first games that I ever played. It was a game that my dad and I played together and beat together. The Neverhood certainly has its fair share of problems and might not be the best game in the world, but it’s just such an interesting game that I can forgive those issues.

When Armikrog was announced, I was on cloud nine. A modern-day spiritual successor to one of my favorite childhood games? Sign me up. My dad and I eagerly pledged a good amount of dough to Armikrog‘s Kickstarter campaign and patiently waited for the day it would finally release. It was delayed quite a few times, but that was okay, because that would help make it a better game. Right?

ss_5adb5439ee6e757c13fd9f26b20f14e2b5a15aa7.1920x1080

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case at all. I dove straight into Armikrog expecting a similarly wonderful and strange experience as I had with The Neverhood. Instead, all I got was disappointment.

Immediately upon starting Armikrog, I was greeted with what is supposed to be a whacky, upbeat intro. Which it is, aside from the fact that the audio sounds like it was recorded in a closet with tin cans. I should have taken that as a sign of the awfulness that was to come, but I was blinded by excitement and continued on to play the game.

As I progressed through Armikrog, I began to notice more and more problems. Clicking on objects didn’t register half the time. The music liked to disappear every so often. Subtitles didn’t match what was being said and usually didn’t even pop up at the correct moment. Some puzzles were completely nonsensical and expected you to magically know things that weren’t previously made apparent. Not to mention there were bugs and glitches abound (there have been a few patches since I initially played and finished Armikrog; who knows how well they fix things, though).

ss_d557b5b154054b0a2e4ff72010faf364ea66c6de.1920x1080

And those are just the gameplay and technical parts of Armikrog. While the graphics and music were fantastic (what music would actually play when it didn’t stop for no reason, anyway), the story, writing, and characters were barely there. I was hopeful considering the hilarious introduction with Tommynaut and Beak-Beak (our two heroes). However, what you see in the beginning is pretty much the most interaction you’ll see between the two throughout the entire game.

As for the story, there is actually a very interesting premise set up during an early part of Armikrog that you are able to read on a literal wall of text (if you played The Neverhood, it is reminiscent of the infamous Hall of Records). It’s probably the most enjoyable part of the game and got me pumped to see how it was going to play out. But, as you might have guessed, not too much happens after that and the ending is extremely anticlimactic and rushed. There’s also a villain, but he may as well not have even been included in Armikrog as he barely does anything.

ss_87d7ad5b4f8c60435caa37bf09067e9fea671a95.1920x1080

I could go on and on about my heart has been ripped into tiny pieces because of how very wrong Armikrog has turned out. I almost want to pretend that it doesn’t exist at all. Sure, you could say I set my expectations way too high or that patches have since fixed most of the problems (which doesn’t excuse the many delays before release or the lackluster story and characters). The fact of the matter is that Armikrog is incredibly disappointing and should be avoided if it all possible.


Pink Score: 1
1 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

The Residents: Freak Show Review

The Residents: Freak Show Featured

The Residents: Freak Show Boxart

Developer: The Cryptic Corporation
Publisher: The Voyager Company
Platform: PC

The Residents are a band which have been around since the 70s crafting seriously unique music and mixed media experiences. As a fan, I’ve hungered for years to pick up the multimedia CDs they produced in the early 90s. The Residents: Freak Show is the very first of these experiments and came out alongside a music CD of the same name.

At first, I feared this would be a seriously lackluster product. The adventure title certainly seems that way at first. You simply click between a few screens which take place inside a, well, “freak show” and get a little CG representation of a performance. The graphics definitely look a bit lumpy and weird, but somehow that enhances the charm over 20 years later. Search a little deeper and you’ll uncover a whole other, and far longer, segment of gameplay beyond the easily accessible exhibits.

The Residents: Freak Show Featured

Hidden behind the Mole Man’s exhibit, as well as behind a “no admittance” sign you’ll find hours of extra content. For the Mole Man in particular, you actually get to hear (and watch) the story of how he became a member of the troupe. Unfortunately, it seems the other characters don’t get the same treatment. With that said, every main character has basically a music video which includes their entire song from the Freak Show album. It also feels like each character is given a believable edge which wasn’t present through the song lyrics alone.

Seeing one of my favorite The Residents albums in action was a stunning event. This CD-ROM absolutely exceeded my expectations with the huge amount of care given to each character’s video as well as the level of interactivity. It could have easily been a slideshow, but Easter eggs and additional story content make it an enjoyable exploration of an album. If you’re a fan of The Residents then at some point you need to play The Residents: Freak Show.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Life is Strange Episode 4 – Dark Room Review

Life is Strange Episode 4 - Dark Room Featured

lifeisstrangelogo4

Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, PS4 Xbox 360, Xbox One

Life is Strange Episode 3 – Chaos Theory left me feeling a little strange. It seemed that DONTNOD were on the precipice of something either really cool, or were set to completely lose me. Luckily, I enjoyed Episode 4 – Dark Room far more, though it wasn’t without some oddities. First off, it really feels like the ending of Episode 3 failed to play out in a significant way here.

Without spoiling anything, it was a very underwhelming resolution. Episode 3 made it seem like this event was a huge wrench in everyone’s plans, but then there’s very little issue to actually get back on the “main” storyline. Perhaps it’ll come back into play in Episode 5, but as of now it seems nothing more than an emotionally manipulative detour.

lifeisstrangeep4featured2

So, as for Episode 4 – Dark Room itself. Things are finally getting serious — far more serious than I ever expected when Life is Strange began. Although there’s a lot of melodrama, it’s easy enough to fall right into the tale. Once everything takes a turn for the creepy I was really involved and being led right down the path that DONTNOD wanted. That reveal right at the end? Yep, I seriously had no clue it was coming.

There were definitely low points to be had between the more climatic sections. For one, you’re forced to put all the clues together in one multi-part puzzle. At this point I simply wanted to get up and go, not sit around and finagle with what was ultimately a very easy set of puzzles. Playing with a controller made it more cumbersome than needed, but that’s my own stubborn fault for not switching to a mouse during the segment.

Life is Strange Episode 4 - Dark Room Featured

Finally, there’s the matter of how choices “pay off” in Life is Strange. Here’s an example with a spoiler. Victoria believed me when I spoke with her at the party. Why? Because I didn’t add insult to injury after dumping paint on her in Episode 1. The fact that she specifically referenced this act of pseudo kindness did not excite me. It just revealed the utter game-y nature of this video game. My choices should impact the story in ways that feel natural. This just seemed contrived.

I am still looking forward to Life is Strange Episode 5. For one, I’m ready to see how this story comes to a close. Not only that, but I’m anxious to see just how differently things do or don’t play out when two players have made completely different choices along the way.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Life is Strange Episode 3 – Chaos Theory Review

Life is Strange Episode 3 - Chaos Theory Featured

Life is Strange Episode 3 - Chaos Theory Logo

Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, PS4 Xbox 360, Xbox One

I’ll admit, despite the dramatic flourishes of Life is Strange Episode 2, the episode felt pretty meandering. This phenomenon appears in many episodic properties, though. Things picked up a tad in time for Episode 3 – Chaos Theory. Throughout the approximately two-hour playtime I found myself hooked, even if it wasn’t always for the best reasons.

Information related to Kate, Rachel, and the Vortex Club was left relatively untouched, even after what just occurred in the previous episode. And for reasons unknown, these interpersonal, ham-fisted issues are still more pressing than the impending destruction of Arcadia Bay. With that said, I enjoyed getting caught up in Max and Chloe’s antics even as they increase in severity.

Life is Strange Episode 3 - Chaos Theory Featured

And (spoilers) I’ll admit to advocating very hard for a potential relationship between them. The way Episode 2 ended scared me about who Max’s potential love interest could end up being, as it seems completely wrong with the assessment I’ve made of the characters thus far (headcanon, haha). In any case, the real star of the episode is Chloe. We see more about her life and history which explains her current devil may care attitude. Then, in the final few seconds of the episode, we’re given a huge “shock” and then credits roll. Although the reveal felt like a cheap trick, it did effectively necessitate my playing of the upcoming episode.

I did not appreciate the utter game-y ness at times. Searching for a computer password and an appropriate place to hide keys had me trying every wrong option first. When the real one was revealed it was obvious, but somehow I didn’t notice (or maybe you need to perform other actions before the right one unlocks?). I’ll need to play again to see if that was the case or not, but if so, that’s truly annoying. Life is Strange is about the story, and any amount of frustration to experience more of that is a hindrance to my enjoyment.

Episode 4 looks to be when the Vortex Club party finally occurs, and as such I’m hoping it’s where everything finally amps up – so far the story is weirdly sedate. It’d be impossible to keep all that excitement for the final episode, right?


 

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Toonstruck Review

Toonstruck Featured

Toonstruck Boxart

Developer: Burst Studios
Publisher: Virgin Interactive
Platform: PC – DOS, GOG*

Toonstruck is one of those games that, despite being a fan of adventure games, flew totally under my radar until recently. For whatever reason I kept confusing it for the Cool World video game which doesn’t seem too great. In Toonstruck you play as a cartoon animator named Drew Blanc who is just another cog in the machine. He’s been dreaming of creating a new cartoon for years but the powers that be simply want him to produce more of the same.

On the night of a big assignment things get weird – Drew is magically drawn into a TV set which leads directly to the world of cartoons. There he immediately runs into that dream character of his, Flux, and is tasked with saving Cutopia before being allowed back to the human world. As it turns out, you’ll have to collect 12 different mystery items in order to save anyone. Just like any other point and click adventure this involves chatting up locals, solving puzzles, and doing lots of weird stuff.

Toonstruck Featured

In regards to other puzzle games of the time Toonstruck actually starts out quite easily. Puzzles ramp up in difficulty, but not exclusively. Only puzzles related to combining items stumped me thanks to their fairly rare appearance. The most enjoyable aspect is simply wandering around this cartoon realm and seeing the juxtaposition between cuteness and “reality.” Characters in Cutopia are sweet to a fault, but some still manage to make hilariously pointed insults. Despite the necessary cartoony visuals, this is a game meant primarily for teens/adults.

Some of Toonstruck’s jokes don’t work anymore as they might have in the 90s. A few jabs at types of people fell particularly flat, but most of the time I was in awe of how hilarious the game manages to be. Humor is hard in games, especially if you’ve got slapstick cartoon sensibilities in the mix. Even if it were lacking the star power of Christopher Lloyd (and many esteemed voice actors) Toonstruck would still prove a hit.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate link

Life is Strange Episode 1 – Chrysalis Review

lifeisstrangefeatured

lifeisstrangelogo

Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, PS4 Xbox 360, Xbox One

I still find it hard to believe that after all this time the thing which brought point and click titles “back” was one of Telltale Games’ licensed games, but it’s hard to complain. Since The Walking Dead, it seems many have followed in their footsteps to create titles with a similar feel. Life is Strange definitely has that sort of vibe, but manages to be its own unique creation. At least, that’s how it feels by the end of Episode 1 – Chrysalis.

You play as Max, a teen who just turned 18, loves photography, and attends a private high school. Her day starts out as bleak as usual until she witnesses a murder. Terrified, she reacts and amazingly manages to rewind time. Thus begins Max’s incredible journey from regular teenager to “everyday hero.” Unfortunately she still has to deal with annoying peers, cliques, and school security.

lifeisstrangefeatured

Much of Life is Strange plays out like a typical modern adventure title. You walk around in third person, examining objects and talking to others. Where it diverges is with the time rewinding mechanic. For example, you may talk to someone and say the “wrong” thing. Instead of living with that issue, you can simply rewind before saying it and choose another response instead. Oftentimes it seems there is no best choice – but it’s still neat to see how every option plays out.

Things are off to an intriguing start in Life is Strange, although most characters feel ‘2D’ and events incredibly staged. Perhaps that’s just the result of integrating gameplay components. Despite these small detractions I’m interested to follow the game through its 5 episode series.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Grim Fandango Remastered Review

Grim Fandango Remastered Featured

grimfandangoremasteredlogo

Developer: LucasArts / Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam PSN – PS4 Vita

I have chased the specter of Grim Fandango for years. When it first launched my attention was captivated by magazine articles and photos. I wanted this game – but my computer was not nearly capable enough of running it. Fast forward years until I found a copy at the thrift store… but my computer was far too modern to play it correctly. Finally, Grim Fandango Remastered has given me the chance to play this beloved point and click adventure!

Well, honestly I wish this had happened years ago with the original release and not Remastered. Buuuut… we’ll get to why that is in a moment. First, one must get all the obvious discussion about Grim Fandango out of the way. It tells a phenomenal story with an awesome cast of characters who all exist in El Marrow – the “Land of the Dead.” Manny is a salesman trying to work off his debt by selling travel packages to spirits. Unfortunately, he only ever seems to get lowlives who qualify for super cheap packages. Everything changes when he steals one customer from his coworker and things spiral out of control.

Nearly everything is pitch perfect: the visuals, music, voice acting, and overall story arch are a joy to watch unfold. Some puzzles aren’t particularly logical but this was still a big issue in the 90s. Grim Fandango Remastered leaves most everything alone aside from implementing a new control scheme and giving characters less pixelated bodies. There’s a pretty neat commentary track as well but beyond that it doesn’t feel like enough work to warrant a word like “remastered.”

Grim Fandango Remastered Featured

Then there are the glitches. Oh boy, those glitches (on PC at least) are monumental. I encountered multiple visual glitches as well as game-breaking bugs that would not allow me to progress in three puzzles. Considering the “puzzle logic” in the game, it’s very easy to simply not realize that an integral part of the puzzle isn’t triggering or has suddenly disappeared. Oh, sometimes it freezes too because why not? Here’s hoping a ton of patches arrive soon to sort the game out because right now Grim Fandango Remastered is a mess.

So what is the end result? This is most assuredly a classic game with amazing characters, art, and a multi-year tale but the current release makes it a challenge to enjoy. Some folks out there have played without glitches rearing their ugly head and that’s fantastic! I just wasn’t one of them. Grim Fandango Remastered, as it currently stands, could cause irreversible damage to the original’s reputation.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system – *Affiliate link

Ostrich Island Review

ostrichislandfeatured

ostrichislandlogo

Developer: MeDungeon
Publisher: MeDungeon
Platform: PC – Steam

You know, I never really expected to play a game where you control an ostrich – but the concept is adorable! Ostrich Island begins with an ostrich who has their head buried in the sand. That’s you. After it quits being a scaredy cat the journey begins. Each level is fairly small and all that’s required is to get from point A to point B (with a great deal of collectibles in between).

The game is incredibly odd at first glance and even in play still seems strange. After all, there’s a button dedicated to digging your head in the sand as well as kicking. You’ll kick a lot if you want the highest score. Kick treasure chests to open them, or kick palm trees to knock the darn things over and collect what they drop. Your main goal is to collect big ‘ol ostrich eggs but there are tons of other prospective goodies.

ostrichislandfeatured

Although Ostrich Island may seem incredibly short and linear, you’ll eventually discover the progress gating. This ostrich needs to gain some skills (such as jumping higher or swimming) before proceeding. It’s a bit annoying since all you really want to do is goof off. It’s around this point that the cohesiveness also starts to disintegrate. Suddenly you’re in a dungeon! For some reason there are skeletons running around that kill you! It’s nonsensical in an annoying way given you have limited lives.

It’s safe to say that Ostrich Island is far less aimless than similar animal-controlled games like Goat Simulator. There’s definite purpose. For a while I even let myself get hooked on trying to collect all level items, hats, skins, and achievements. Really, your enjoyment of it will be derived by how much fun you have unlocking stuff versus how well you handle glitchy jumps, annoying progression gating, and the like. Ostrich Island is an odd bird indeed.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system