Posts Tagged ‘GamersGate’

Deadfall Adventures Review

Deadfall Adventures Featured

Deadfall Adventures

Developer: The Farm 51
Publisher: Nordic Games
Platform: PC – GamersGate, Steam Xbox 360

In film’s long history, there has never been as humorous and attractive an archaeologist as Indiana Jones. But what about when it comes to games? Well, we could consider Lara Croft and Nathan Drake as riffs on the formula, but neither is exactly the same. Deadfall Adventures attempts to create a new iconic figure with James Lee Quatermain as he embarks on a journey to find a relic known as The Heart of Atlantis.

The story is pretty predictable, with hammy lines and characters. It seems the developers created it with this in mind as an attempt to create a plainly fun experience. As it turns out, the action-adventure FPS isn’t bad, but it’s not the next must have title either. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the features injected to make it “more” than a standard FPS add a little bit.

Deadfall Adventures Featured

Mainly, there are puzzles and treasures to find when not in the midst of firefights. Puzzles range from completely easy to ones that might make players think a bit. But only a little (at least on easy or normal puzzle difficulty). Deadfall Adventures has an included hint system via James’ notebook so you’re never completely stranded. As for treasures, they seem inconsequential until you realize they’re used as currency for player upgrades. Stopping the task at hand to doggedly search a location for treasure is not particularly fun, considering how hard they hide the pieces at times.

FPS segments themselves work but not in a way we’ve never seen before. They’re mostly average, but a few drag on longer than they need to thanks to undead enemy types. Mummies end up appearing a lot to hinder progress and they’re actually immortal – unless you shine light on them. The player is always equipped with a flashlight but seeing an enemy burn up into bits is only cool the first few times. After that, it’s a little annoying to not be able to simply take them down the same as other enemies.

Deadfall Adventures Screenshot

Where the game shines most is in the visual department. It looks good and makes sure to showcase a variety of interesting locales. Considering how the game brings you to locations such as Egyptian and Mayan temples, it would be a total shame if the graphics weren’t up to par. Non-human enemies were also given interesting designs, which is much appreciated. The same can’t be said for James and his gruff, stubble-faced self, unfortunately.

Still, it is interesting to see a game come out that isn’t simply iterating on what has already existed in spades. There aren’t many games that feature treasure hunting  and definitely few FPS titles that include a sizable amount of puzzles. What it comes down to is Deadfall Adventures being a strangely unexciting experience. Overall, Deadfall Adventures wasn’t my cup of tea but it deserves credit for being different.

Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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The 11th Hour Review

The 11th Hour Featured

The 11th Hour Boxart

Developer: Trilobyte Games
Publisher: Night Dive Studios – Contact
Platform: PC – Amazon, DotEmu, GamersGate, GOG*, Steam

A few years after The 7th Guest came out, Trilobyte returned with a sequel. In The 11th Hour, 60 years have passed since the murders at Stauf Mansion. So what purpose does anyone have digging around in there “today”? A TV series by the name of Case Unsolved has decided the mansion would make a perfect story for their show, of course! But all the evils of the first game still exist and they ensnare the show’s producer, luring you in to (hopefully) save her before it’s too late.

The more modern telling of The 11th Hour is a boon as it leads to more “natural” acting over the original. Here we’re not simply enjoying the farce but actually getting involved in the narrative (there are still some really, really goofy moments though). Some may still find it pretty hokey, but some of the later reveals actually ensnared me. This is aided by much higher quality video quality as well which looks more like a TV show than a poorly green-screened cast. This was possible because now you rarely see characters interacting in the CG environment, although it still occurs from time to time.

The 11th Hour Featured

Despite the modern setting, The 11th Hour is still a very similar game to its predecessor. That means you’re still going to be maneuvering around via a first person point and click perspective. However, this has been updated with camera motions that make it seem like the player is actually traversing the building, rather than just looking at a series of slideshows. The pre-rendered backdrops also look better with improved textures and lighting. I’m glad that they decided to keep the finger-wagging skeleton hand cursor despite the upgrades.

New puzzle types have also been added. Now there are riddles which hint at items you must find in the house. However, as riddles, they do so in a variety of ways that never explicitly state the object’s name. Some of these riddles are pretty simple but others require serious consideration. Some were fun, and others were very un-fun. Overall, players should be prepared for a lot of anagram-based puzzles. Of course, AI puzzles are also aplenty as well as others. A few are even quite similar to puzzles in The 7th Guest, but easier.

Some of these main puzzles are incredibly difficult though. Unless you’re some sort of puzzle-solving savant, there are likely to be multiple times that giving up will seem like the best course of action. Sure, none of the puzzles are broken, but they sure like to frustrate! Thankfully, there is an option to receive hints as well as skip puzzles entirely like in the original game. The hints/skip are also now accessible from any room via a laptop. It’s convenient but you’ll still miss scenes if you cheat.

The 11th Hour Screenshot

It might seem like an oddball suggestion, but perhaps the best way to play The 11th Hour is with a friend or two. Some of these puzzles and riddles are easy to get stuck in which makes a second mind useful. In either case, if you can’t enjoy the puzzles in some regard then there’s little reason to play since that’s what the whole game is about! By having someone to play the game with it can keep frustrations minimized as well help the experience to be more enjoyable.

The 11th Hour is most definitely an improvement over The 7th Guest. There are now a variety of puzzle types to experience and only a few of them have anything to do with chess pieces! Unlike modern point and click adventures though, Trilobyte did not hold back making creative and confounding riddles and tests of player skill. Those without an appetite for straining their brain over and over again should probably skip past, but puzzle lovers will rightly find a good game here. It might be nearing 20 years old now, but The 11th Hour still packs a riddle-filled punch.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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The 7th Guest Review

The 7th Guest Featured

The 7th Guest Boxart

Developer: Trilobyte Games
Publisher: Night Dive Studios – Contact
Platform: iOS, PC – Amazon, DotEmu, GamersGate, GOG*, Steam (Reviewed)

The 7th Guest was a game far ahead of its time when it launched in 1993. At the time, games were still commonly seen on floppy discs. Unlike them, The 7th Guest was a visual feat, meaning it could only release on CD. It became the “must have” title for many gamers although they would have to buy a brand new CD drive first! Times have certainly changed since then. No longer do we view full-motion video (FMV) games as impressive, but more of a silly footnote in history.

That’s why anyone with a real interest in gaming owes it to themselves to play The 7th Guest. Sure, it is hammy and weird but this was the beginning of a new era. Someone had to try and it just happened to be Trilobyte who did it! They crafted a simple story of six (with a 7th guest coming) people in a mansion. They’ve all been invited there by a strange, eccentric man who said he would grant one of their wishes. It’s certainly not the first time such a plot has been utilized – just look at the film House on Haunted Hill. But there’s more to it than that. There are dolls… and dying children. Spooky, indeed.

The 7th Guest Featured

The adventure title takes place entirely within the mansion. Your main task is to search it from top to bottom via a point and click interface. For the most part, you seek out puzzles and, upon successful completion, are shown a story scene. Puzzles range from simple to confusing, but most can be solved with determined clicking if you don’t know how to win. It is possible to use the open book in the library for hints and to complete a puzzle if you get stuck. However, this method keeps players from viewing the respective story scene afterward. If nothing else, use the book on a certain microscope puzzle. It’s way too much of an unfair time sink!

What exactly made The 7th Guest such a standout at the time? It certainly wasn’t being a point and click adventure title, since Sierra and others were pumping out those titles for years already. The big change was to pre-rendered CG backdrops and FMV actors. How more real can you get than actual film of people playing roles? You can’t! So this was a huge deal, alongside the then gorgeous environments free for you to explore. Even now, the mansion still looks pretty good. Of course, the live scenes were compressed heavily due to space constraints. Not only that, but they are superimposed into the game with a gross “halo” about them. It doesn’t stand up to the test of time.

The 7th Guest Screenshot

The same holds true for the acting, although it’s likely they were never going for a completely serious game. Viewing it today, there’s a distinctly ridiculous charm. The story makes sense and there are honestly a few creepy touches, even if they’re outweighed by an overacting cast. The music is also seriously dated but it has some goofy charm about it as well. Aside from the credits theme though, you won’t likely search out the soundtrack after playing.

Maybe it was because of the sheer novelty or because players were immersed into the world, but a sequel by the name of The 11th Hour came out two years later. As far as production values are concerned that is the better game, but nothing beats the enthusiasm present in The 7th Guest. No, it is hardly a technical tour de force today, and doesn’t even have really great puzzles, but it is definitely a noteworthy game worth experiencing at least once.

Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas

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Montague’s Mount Review

Montague's Mount Featured

Montague's Mount Boxart

Developer: PolyPusher Studios
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – Direct, GamersGate, Get Games, GOG*

Montague’s Mount is a game that reveals very little about itself when you begin. As the story starts, your character simply wakes up on a dark and dreary beach. There are pieces of wood scattered around and it seems as if you once had a boat and ended up here. The character hobbles – perhaps his leg was injured in the accident? His coughs also echo in the quiet air which makes it seem that this guy is in a lot of trouble washing up in a strange place. You find a walking stick, and then proceed. That’s all the introduction player or character receives.

This is an excellent start to a game which, unfortunately, cannot live up to its own expectations. It sure tries though. Everything about the game attempts to push a dark and mysterious atmosphere, from the mostly monochrome visuals to the sometimes eerie ambient sounds. The story is also told in small snippets, and objects are named in the Irish language Gaeilge. This all sets up a superb “feeling” for Montague’s Mount but none of this can protect against dull gameplay.

Wandering through this isolated island is ponderous. The lead character is purposefully slow and so is his interactions with everything around him. At one point, a bridge is lowered, but it creeps down at a horrendous pace. Really, this characterizes much of the game where puzzles are resolved in equally snail-like fashion. Slow events could increase tension if there were anything to fear, but that’s not the case here either. Instead, everything is monotonously paced without a good reason.

Montague's Mount Featured

Exploration is the main goal and you’ll be doing a lot of it. Players basically have to examine every object, because it’s never known what might be useful. Only necessary items can be picked up, which is convenient. There still happens to be a ton of clutter though which is fairly annoying to comb through. But if you ever lessen your extreme attention to detail then needed objects will be overlooked, only forcing you to comb through an area or two again. Whenever a game demands copious item hunts it is annoying, but definitely more so in dark environments. As you might expect, these are plentiful in Montague’s Mount.

Even those who enjoy atmospheric and slow games might find a bigger issue with this one. For some reason, Montague’s Mount has caused me (and some other players as well) to experience definite framerate issues. Without them, I’m certain it would have been easier to tolerate the game, but the common 20 FPS or so really made other issues readily apparent. Some have reported no hitches when playing, but there doesn’t appear to be a demo to test out first.

To me, Montague’s Mount is a game that seriously could have been great but has turned out to be a very flawed creation. Puzzles usually only require fetching an item and using it, but that is hardly compelling gameplay. Of course, when finding some items can be difficult it just serves to annoy rather than immerse anyone into the world. Of course, the technical issues I encountered made it a nearly unbearable gameplay experience. It’s really sad to see a game with such promise end up this way, but they can’t all be winners.

Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas

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Eleusis Review

Eleusis Featured

Eleusis Boxart

Developer: Nocturnal works
Publisher: Nocturnal works
Platform: PC – DesuraDirect, GamersGateSteam

If you’re anything like me, then Eleusis might strike you as an odd name. The game itself (judging by just screenshots) could also seem to be like any number of other horror games out there. However, these initial assessments sell the game short. It is nothing like the world of Slender copycats nor Amnesia. It takes a very different path, even if they all share a few gameplay elements in common.

In Eleusis, you’re given a very basic setup. After receiving a letter to visit your mother, your journey is stopped by a rock slide on the only road. Having your car stuck in the middle of the night is quite an unfortunate situation, thankfully, you find a town nearby and hope someone there can help you. The only problem is the town seems completely abandoned… Until you hear a scream.

While playing it was hard to shake the feeling that this felt far more like a classic adventure game than modern jump scare horror. Yes, it has attractive and ominous graphics, but the gameplay doesn’t necessarily tread far from old roots. What this means is that puzzles mainly consist of finding the right objects and using them when needed. Oftentimes, there are keys hidden which unlock the doors you need to head through. This is all pretty simple, at least, although finding objects can often be difficult.

Eleusis Featured

The difficulty stems from the fact that there’s just a lot of stuff the player can interact with. About 80% of it is useless, but the other 20% will be items worth investigating or provide objects necessary to finish the game. If you ever skip something, you can go back and find it, but it might take a while considering there are a lot of places to look. Wandering too often gets annoying so try to keep you eyes peeled throughout the duration of Eleusis.

So what is that differentiates this game from the pack? Primarily, it’s due to a focus more on discovery rather than running and hiding all the time. However, another neat aspect of the game (and its plot) is revealed by the title. Eleusis is the name of a town in Greece where the “Eleusinian Mysteries” took place. This was a yearly ceremony instigated by a cult and, well, if you research it a little you’ll see the parallels between these ancient ceremonies and the game.

Mainly, the only issues lie with the title being short-ish and a bit of an item hunt. Beyond that, Eleusis is a creepy adventure game that pulls from a very interesting facet of ancient Greek history. This is a game best for those who are tired of playing copycat, half-finished horror titles which keep getting published.

Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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