Posts Tagged ‘GOG’

Personal Nightmare Review

Personal Nightmare Featured

Personal Nightmare Boxart

Developer: Horrorsoft
Publisher: Horrorsoft
Platform: PC – Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, GOG*

Personal Nightmare is a great name for a horror game. And heck, there are definitely some horrifying moments in the title. However, this 1989 horror title is steeped with so much antiquated adventure gaming conventions that it is extremely hard to come back to today. It seems this is the case with most of Horrorsoft/Adventure Soft’s catalog (see Waxworks).

The best aspect of Personal Nightmare are the graphics. Pixel art has moved away from the “painterly” style that became prominent before 3D graphics took over so this all looks very refreshing. In particular, death scenes (which you’ll come across frequently) are super grisly. Rooms look distinct as well-meaning you won’t get lost in a maze of samey-looking sections. Of course, the map itself is huge meaning you can still get lost for other reasons.

Personal Nightmare Featured

This game uses a parser-based system with some graphical elements. A list of verbs is always present on the right side of the screen. Clicking on one helps fill out the text parser, although you can just as easily type out a full command by hand. Thankfully the inventory has a fully graphical representation although it has a max capacity. Weirdly, your briefcase within inventory provides a secondary inventory which is massive. So, start stuffing objects in there, although this might mess you up on later puzzles.

Speaking of puzzles, they’re where Personal Nightmare gets everything wrong. Not only are you required to carefully inspect every item, but many require inspection before a certain time. Time plays an integral role in the game meaning you can miss a necessary item thanks to dawdling. It’s unforgivable puzzle design as far as I’m concerned because only the most hardened adventure fans will give that a pass. Combine that with some finicky inventory management as well as clunky controls and it just becomes a huge annoyance. Personal Nightmare  is aptly named, but for all the wrong reasons.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Review

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Featured

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Boxart

Developer: Monolith Productions, 3D Realms
Publisher: GT Interactive, Atari
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood might just be a game with the most redundant title around. It also happens to be a classic FPS from the 90s. Well, classic to some. I’d always heard murmurings of Blood alongside Doom and Quake but never got around to playing it myself – until now. I’ll tell you one thing, it certainly lives up to its name.

Of course a game called Blood is full of bloodstained nastiness but is there more to it than that? There’s a storyline, although it doesn’t seem to convey very much of interest. The scenes instead seem focused on showcasing awesome 3D models and lighting (awesome for the time, that is). Once you get beyond that it basically devolves into your standard older-style FPS.

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Featured

Areas are all enclosed, although some are much larger than others. Movement is incredibly fast, almost as if the protagonist is wearing roller blades while decimating enemies. Said weapons are brutal although so are enemies. Even on the easiest difficulty the pace of Blood is fast and never lets up. If you can survive then there are a good deal of “episodes” to play. This is further enhanced by both the GOG and Steam versions including the Plasma Pak and Cryptic Passage expansion packs.

When compared to other games of the time period I feel that Blood was attempting to thematically outdo other games while maintaining a classic aesthetic. It has a neat Gothic feel at times, sure, but otherwise fails to stand out. Blood: One Unit Whole Blood is one of the many average shooters that have graced PCs over the years.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Review

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Featured

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Logo

Developer: Pinkerton Road Studio, Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Pinkerton Road Studio
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers arrived on PC back in 1993 courtesy of Sierra On-Line. It hit the scene as a more serious point and click adventure game than most. Although I never played it way back when, I did eventually play and adore it. Now, a (little late) 20th Anniversary Edition of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is out and leaves me feeling quite perplexed. Did this classic game truly need a remake?

As far as I’m concerned, the storyline is still as intriguing as it was back in the 90s. It stars Gabriel Knight, a writer with a trashy series as his best work. He runs a book store in New Orleans along with Grace Nakimura but even that endeavor flounders. This dull, cash-strapped life takes a turn when a series of “Voodoo Murders” occur. Do the crimes actually have any relation to Voodoo at all or is something else at play? As curious authors are apparently wont to do, Gabriel sticks his nose into the mystery and gets far more than he bargained for.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Featured

Gabriel is definitely an odd protagonist. Early on he acts incredibly sleazy and is full of eye-rolling comments, especially when contrasted against excellent characters such as Grace. Thankfully, he loses most of his revolting nature once things get serious. This is important considering how much dialogue Sins of the Fathers has. There’s a ton. The vast majority is also voiced by a new cast. The most blessed change is Tim Curry’s awkward New Orleans accent finally being put to rest.

As for gameplay, much of the game remains the same as it ever was. This is still a point and click adventure with a hefty inventory and loads of puzzles. A robust hint feature proves to be the best change. Unfortunately, much of inventory management and item usage continues being problematic. For example, many items suggest players “take”, “look at”, and “operate” them even when some options are impossible. It is funny to hear the narrator chide Gabriel if he considers taking a gigantic object, but this will also prove annoying to modern adventure game players. It’s surprising item and inventory usage weren’t redesigned.

gk22

Outside of new voice actors the biggest change comes from completely revamped visuals. Now things have a hand-drawn, painterly look instead of pixel art. Personally, I continue to adore the original Sins of the Fathers’ for its gorgeous aesthetic. I don’t feel that the new 3D models will stand up to the test of time, although backdrops and cutscenes look lovely. Despite the tweaks, one facet that remains between both versions is its intriguing tale which hooks players.

I don’t feel there was a need for this remake, but on the other hand, it serves as a way to introduce new players to the world of Gabriel Knight. If they won’t pick up an “ancient” PC game perhaps they’ll give this gussied-up version a go. All in all, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is as good as it ever was even if nothing can quite ever replace the original.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

Waxworks Review

Waxworks Featured

Waxworks Boxart

Developer: Horrorsoft
Publisher: Accolade, Adventure Soft
Platform: PC – Amiga, DOS, GOG*

The early 90s were a scary time for adventure game developers. Horrorsoft, who began with text parser games, created Waxworks as an attempt to bridge that gaming gap. Instead of being a dull adventure game it utilized dungeon-crawler elements to offer copious fights. Of course, it still maintained that classic adventure core by requiring players to lug a heft inventory around.

Unfortunately, the implementation of action elements in Waxworks leaves much to be desired. The game does start off creepily enough, at least. You enter into a wax museum after being ushered there by your Uncle. According to him there’s a curse on your family and your brother will be lost forever if it isn’t removed. Destroying said curse requires entering different wax exhibits which transport players to different planes of existence.

Waxworks Featured

It sounds fine until you realize that every ounce of gameplay is a pain. The adventure trope of clicking on and collecting everything is in full force. Alongside that are constant swarms of enemies to slow progress and chip away at the health meter. Then there are maze-like areas that are far more frustrating than they are fun (especially as more enemies spawn as you try to find a proper path). It’s terribly un-fun.

Waxworks does have some grotesquely detailed artwork and a suitably creepy soundtrack. Had gameplay actually passed muster such aspects would be icing on the cake. As is, these are the only high points most players are likely to find. Only the most determined of horror connoisseurs should seek out this game.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

A Golden Wake Review

A Golden Wake Featured

A Golden Wake Logo

Developer: Grundislav Games
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

The 1920s were a heck of a time – and one that is rarely covered in games. A Golden Wake pushes players into the midst of the era’s many facets by placing them into the shoes of Alfie Banks. Alfie’s just a young man trying to make it in the world. After being fired from his New York job, he heads to Florida where a real estate boom is taking place. There, he hopes to use his patented salesman skills to work toward wealth.

A Golden Wake is most certainly one unique point and click adventure game. As Alfie, you get to experience all the fun of being a real estate agent! Okay, that might sound weird, but the storyline and characters do make it all very interesting. Of course, it’s not long before Alfie’s life takes new pathways. The game spans multiple years from the 20s onward, meaning you’ll get to see a great many important historical events.

Something I didn’t realize while playing was that the whole game is in fact modeled loosely after real events and characters. Coral Gables, the city being created at the beginning, is a real place that still exists in Florida today. The characters, too, are mostly modeled after people of that time. Despite having no clue about all this I still was able to enjoy the storyline, characters, and understand what was going on.

A Golden Wake Featured

Puzzle-wise, A Golden Wake  is surprisingly easy (minus one or two puzzles). This is not a complaint! There’s nothing worse than being trapped in an adventure game when all you want is to see the story to its completion. With that said, there were some odd notes in the story progression. Alfie himself seems to have extreme personality changes. Granted, the storyline is supposed to span many years, but the progression of time doesn’t feel particularly obvious.

Taking an adventure game trek through the highs and lows of a bygone era was tremendously entertaining. A Golden Wake nails the atmosphere with its visuals, music, and architecture. I just wish it could have been longer than the four hours it took me to beat it. With a little more fleshing out it would have been even more memorable. Still, A Golden Wake should prove to be quite a pleasant surprise for the adventure gaming community.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

Realms of the Haunting Review

Realms of the Haunting Featured

Realms of the Haunting Boxart

Developer: Gremlin Interactive
Publisher: Interplay, KISS ltd
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Realms of the Haunting was a game trying its best to straddle two worlds. First, it most certainly wanted to tell a good, creepy story like a classic point and click adventure. However, by 1996 that was a tricky proposition. As such, the title is a first-person shooter although it still maintains many hallmarks of the adventure genre. Everything begins when the protagonist’s father dies.

After this death, his son then seeks to discover what exactly might have been going on before his father’s untimely demise. This leads him to a mansion where the father’s spirit is apparently trapped. You must help to free this spirit by, basically, taking on the great many evil powers which have taken up residence there. Of course you do this with a liberal dose of puzzle solving – and shooting demons.

Puzzles aren’t particularly tough on their own. What makes them a challenge is that players require keen observation skills while exploring. Oh hey, see that slightly discolored tile in the corner of a room? Click it! Players must also pay attention to the fact they can tilt the camera up and down as well. Often, items are hidden below the “forward” line of sight. As long as you’ve got a keen eye it’s possible to make it through most chapters.

Realms of the Haunting Featured

Of course, Realms of the Haunting also has a variety of FPS segments shoved in for good measure. These aren’t usually difficult, especially with large caches of ammo hidden around. It’s worth noting enemies are weak against certain weapons over others. So if one takes a zillion blasts with one weapon try switching to another. Despite all this shooting business, I still feel that the game is primarily steeped in adventure game concepts. This is furthered by the copious FMV cutscenes and dialogue present throughout.

FMV games are often laughed off but in this case the sequences are actually fairly compelling. The story is simplistic but the acting isn’t bad at all. I found myself even looking forward to seeing what would occur next. With that said, it does drag on as it’ll take somewhere around 8 to 10 hours to complete. Realms of the Haunting feels very antiquated with its tank-style control scheme but there’s a pretty intriguing game lurking underneath the surface.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

Monster Bash Review

Monster Bash Featured

Monster Bash Boxart

Developer: Apogee Software
Publisher: Apogee Software
Platformer: PC – Direct, DOS, GOG*

Monster Bash is an early 90s platformer featuring a protagonist who fits right into the time period. Johnny Dash is a cool kid (you can tell because he wears a baseball cap backwards). Along with his trusty slingshot he delves into the world of monsters. An overall theme might be that these are just dreams, as little Johnny wanders through dangerous stages in polka-dotted pajamas. In any case, the goal is to save caged animals without letting him meet an untimely end.

With a child protagonist and cute goal of saving cats and dogs you might think Monster Bash is effectively a kid’s game. And maybe it is, but it’s also an incredibly violent one. Your slingshot fires rocks (primarily) and when these hit enemies they bleed. Yep, it’s red blood too, not some fanciful alien goop color. Locations are definitely creepy too with hanged skeletons, hearts suspended via hooks, and other nastiness. In comparison to Apogee’s earlier works it has a more detailed, less garish visual aesthetic.

Monster Bash Featured

Platforming itself is pretty precise and challenging. Even in the first episode there are stages with a huge amount of animals to free – some of which are difficult to reach. Along the way you must always watch for enemies, enemy projectiles, and other dangers. For example, if you shoot light fixtures the glass will fall down and pose a brand new threat. Staying alive is tough even though you have five lives to start. Thankfully, checkpoints are liberally dispersed and extra lives are available as well.

Still, Monster Bash is quite the relentless platformer. My attempts to reach beyond Episode 2 were a tragedy. Those who love hard platformers should definitely find this one appealing. After all, it offers large levels and many secrets which seem to draw the attention of genre fans. Here’s hoping Apogee games continue to see modern releases even if they’re all likely a bit too much for me!


3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

Bad Mojo Redux Review

Bad Mojo Featured

Bad Mojo Redux Boxart

Developer: Pulse Entertainment
Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment, Night Dive Studios
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Bad Mojo is one of those games that was deemed one of the last noteworthy adventure titles (before their more modern resurgence). Despite owning a copy of the re-release, Redux, near launch, it seemed too difficult and weird to get into. I’ve finally run through the unique experience and found it very much worth playing.

The game opens with a man who has apparently just committed a robbery or two and is about to leave town. His plans change completely when looking at a locket from his mother zaps him. After regaining consciousness, he finds himself within the body of a cockroach. From there, players must navigate the dangerous apartment rooms to solve puzzles and hopefully return to human form.

Exploring is a disgusting, interesting feat as you come across dead roach and rat bodies, bloodied half-prepared fish, and general yuckiness. It’s incredibly surprising to realize a form of this game launched in 1996 since the visuals are still as gross as ever. Puzzles involve looking everywhere and figuring out what exactly to walk over or push to cause a reaction. If you need help, other creatures will speak of hints in vague tones.

Bad Mojo Featured

Bad Mojo Redux is a visual upgrade to the original game and my GOG copy ran just fine on my Windows 7 64-bit computer. Buying via Steam or GOG nabs all Redux bonus videos (developer commentary, making of, hint videos), manual, soundtrack, and other goodies.

The acting in Bad Mojo is pretty hokey, but if you can get past that the experience is incredibly different from an adventure game standpoint. You might find the finale a bit tricky though, as I did. Save often! Performing different actions during a playthrough result in different endings. Although the endings might be hindered by the story and acting, crawling your way through is definitely enjoyable. Check Bad Mojo (Redux) out as long as you’re not the squeamish type.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

The Labyrinth of Time Review

The Labyrinth of Time Featured

The Labyrinth of Time Boxart

Developer: Terra Nova Development, The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co.
Publisher: Electronic Arts, The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co.
Platform: PC – Amiga CD32, DOS, GOG*

Thanks to increasingly powerful PCs in 1993, an entirely new genre (of sorts) was born. People may know them as Myst-likes; games where your goal is to explore expansive “3D” environments and solve puzzles. However, it appears The Labyrinth of Time arrived before Myst, so perhaps we should be calling everything The Labyrinth of Time-likes instead?

The game starts off in a depressing fashion as we hear the internal monologue of our protagonist. He speaks about the dull, horrid life they live day after day. However, on the commute home, something striking happens. Suddenly, they are no longer on their regular commuter train but in some complete alternate universe. They’ve been called upon by Daedalus to stop the vile King Minos before it takes control of time and space.

The Labyrinth of Time Featured

It’s obvious the story line is meant to be a big draw but it’s rather silly. Beyond that, you explore a variety of screens to collect items for use later. In keeping with the theme, areas are all given their own time and place. For example, one area is a western saloon while the other is a 1950’s restaurant. Visually, The Labyrinth of Time is gorgeous but that makes sense given the slide show nature of the graphics. Unfortunately, I found myself going around in circles because of it.

As someone who likes weird games, it’s hard to completely discount this one. I really like the art, themed areas, and general odd vibe throughout. However, playing it isn’t particularly fun. The Labyrinth of Time doesn’t stand up to the test of time but it’s a neat little reminder of when developers were willing to experiment.


Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

Always Sometimes Monsters Review

Always Sometimes Monsters Featured

Always Sometimes Monsters Logo

Developer: Vagabond Dog
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – GOG*, Humble Store, Steam

Life is unfair. I don’t think anyone can deny that fact no matter their circumstances. Always Sometimes Monsters thrives off that concept as it pushes players into a more “human” RPG. The game begins by letting you (unassuming) choose the protagonist and then their love interest. Their race and gender are completely irrelevant. If you choose, the game can play out with lesbian or gay love interests at the center. From there, they must live out their dreary lives – and you’ll be right along for the ride.

My experience with Always Sometimes Monsters was extremely odd. At first, I couldn’t help viewing it as a game that was trying too hard with its edginess. After a couple of hours, I warmed up to it and wanted to progress my character through her story. However, progression is actually incredibly dull after a while. Just like in reality you must grind through the days to try and reunite with a past love. Heck, even that storyline is worrisome. I’ve never enjoyed the prospect of “winning back the girl/guy” that is so prevalent in romantic comedies. Sure, the path this version takes is different, but it’s still weird.

Always Sometimes Monsters Featured

In any case, much of the “grind” boils down to working at a job, getting money, and buying food. The food bit stinks as I’ve never enjoyed having to keep characters eating so they survive. Always Sometimes Monsters’ pacing suffers. It starts slow, picks up, then slows down for a good while longer until the finale finally comes into sight. Had the game continued as it did when my opinion first reversed itself then, well, it’d likely be far more enjoyable.

Always Sometimes Monsters certainly tried to do something different. Using the guise of a classic pixelated RPG it brought a more modern story to players. It also allowed for a surprising array of character choice, which is always appreciated. It just feels like the pace slogs everything down much of the way through. Still, it’s a very unique title and I hope to see more developers follow in Vagabond Dog’s footsteps.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link