Posts Tagged ‘GOG’

Blackwell Deception Review

Blackwell Deception Featured

Blackwell Deception Logo

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

After Blackwell Convergence, both Rosa and Joey have grown into their roles. The duo has officially set up a spiritual business so they no longer need to discover ghosts on their own. Now, people can simply point them in the right direction. Things are looking up! Well, at least they are at the start.

Blackwell Deception is the longest game in the series yet and that’s because it takes the story in exciting and frightening directions. For one, things that were barely alluded to in the past are finally explained. It also seems that a far more menacing enemy makes their way into the story. What had once been a slightly silly jaunt through a medium’s life has definitely shifted in tone.

I like it. With more cases to solve in a longer span of time, there’s a lot more to discover. For those who prefer adventure games with puzzles, well, they have finally been bulked up as well. It’s not a lot, but there are at least a few instances that require careful thinking. In a way, I don’t appreciate this as it might create a barrier to those who were previously completely able to enjoy the games. Well, at least walkthroughs exist!

Blackwell Deception Featured

One issue with previous Blackwell games was that you always had to go back to Rosa’s apartment to look something up. By Blackwell Deception, she’s finally caught up with the times and has a smartphone! Now you can simply pull it up at any time and perform searches, call characters, and review case notes. This simplification removes most of the tedium which is a very welcome change.

The story has been something worth looking forward to but it is only with the first and fourth game that it seems to have been a truly excellent experience. Even though mysteries are resolved by the end, there is no longer a feeling of peace. Blackwell Deception feels like it’s leading to the climax whereas the middle titles just seemed to be lollygagging around. At this point, it’s hard to wait for Blackwell Epiphany but let’s hope it lives up to the high expectations formed by Blackwell Deception.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Blackwell Convergence Review

Blackwell Convergence Featured

Blackwell Convergence Boxart

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

Blackwell Unbound was an odd change of pace to the Blackwell series, which is why I’m glad to report that everything shifts back to the present with Blackwell Convergence. This time around, we’re back with Rosa and Joey as they help free various restless souls. Unfortunately, it seems that this time there’s far more danger afoot.

Strangely, it didn’t feel like the previous games had many moments of urgency. This changes with Blackwell Convergence somewhat, as there is now a greater mystery that must be solved, instead of just solving the cases of a few spirits. Even so, this chapter failed to leave as strong an impression as the original game did.

Blackwell Convergence Featured

Perhaps that has to do with the fact that, after playing the three games in a row, the concept has lost its freshness. I still have hope for what comes next, but it seems that there is often a lull in the middle of episodic series. Something larger might be forming under the surface, but as of right now, the plot isn’t ready to delve headfirst into it.

Something that I forgot to praise previously was the music for the Blackwell series. It is quite good and I find myself routinely considering checking if the albums are for sale. There’s definitely a great vibe from the music to match the noir-ish vibe. Of course, the visuals are fitting too although I can’t help noticing the subtle art styles from game to game. As a whole, Blackwell Convergence is still better than Blackwell Unbound, but not quite as good as I was hoping for. Well, onto Blackwell Deception!


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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BloodNet Review

BloodNet Featured

BloodNet Boxart

Developer: MicroProse
Publisher: Tommo
Platform: PC – GOG*

Ransom Stark is a New York native with quite the unique problem. At the very start of the game he has a fateful run-in with a vampire which leaves him as one as well. The only thing that is now stopping Stark from feasting on citygoers is an implanted nanomachine in his body that can stop his vampiric transformation – but only for a few days. Will he be able to find a cure before then?

BloodNet is one strange title. It meshes a cyberpunk aesthetic with classic tales of vampires. The city is fueled by technology, drugs, and a giant corporation known as TransTechnicals. Of course, the company is shady as is always the case with corporations in these types of stories. As Stark, you must investigate both in the real world and online to save yourself as well as others you’ll come to meet along the way.

The game could be considered both a point and click adventure and RPG, but most would probably just learn toward the RPG definition. Most characters have a lot to say and offer you quests. Unlike some games, the quests make a lot of sense don’t just sound like elaborate fetch quests (even if they are). This is thanks to the excellent writing. Some may find it drags on and on but I enjoyed getting into the strange world.

BloodNet Screenshot 1

Fights break out sporadically but you might have a hard time figuring them out. You see, there are NPCs throughout the city you can recruit to your team to add muscle, but that’s not all there is to it. You’re also going to want to fashion weapons from existing parts you have (and be sure to equip some to teammates as well!). None of this is explained very well and the fighting system is unusual as well. The player positions their team before initiating a strike, but then it takes on a turn-based battle structure.

The thing about BloodNet is that it’s very set in its ways but is unwilling to explain much of it to players. This goes for the narrative as well as the gameplay functionality. Because of that it definitely is not something you can just pick up and play. It’s a shame because there is a very unique world to explore but it will take most some real effort to get into it.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Blackwell Unbound Review

Blackwell Unbound Featured

Blackwell Unbound Boxart

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

After playing through The Blackwell Legacy I jumped right into Blackwell Unbound. Much to my surprise, the game actually positions itself as a prequel to the first. Instead of playing as Rosa this time around you’re Lauren Blackwell, the aunt. She also lives with spirit guide Joey although she appears to have long since come to terms with her ghostly partner.

As Lauren, your goal is to investigate two apparent hauntings in the city.  This time around there are two ghosts needing help (of course, they don’t realize it themselves!). You can tackle either situation first and neither takes particularly long. Apparently, this leads to a shorter game overall as it didn’t require two hours to beat.

Blackwell Unbound Featured

Although the game is shorter, it still sheds some interesting light into the whole spirit guide and medium dynamic. We also get to learn more about Lauren from when she was living and actually quite a shift form Rosa’s more reserved nature. Unfortunately, we likely won’t get to see more of Lauren since she’s gone by the time Rosa meets Joey.

Perhaps it was due to the even shorter length, or the less interesting storyline overall, but Blackwell Unbound felt like a step back. After all, my hopes were set on progressing Rosa’s story rather than fussing around with an other character. Perhaps the stories showcased here will come back as important points in Blackwell Deception or Blackwell Convergence. If they don’t, then this game may very well be skippable for casual Blackwell fans.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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The Blackwell Legacy Review

The Blackwell Legacy Featured

The Blackwell Legacy Boxart

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

The Blackwell series by Wadjet Eye Games is one of the most notable independently published adventure games out there. In fact, in 2006, it was part of a very exclusive club as “episodic” titles hadn’t really broken into the mainstream yet. In anticipation of the final game in the series, Blackwell Epiphany, I’m playing through the previous four. My mission begins with The Blackwell Legacy.

The story begins as we meet a woman named Rosa releasing the ashes of her aunt over a bridge. Rosa seems confused, unsure of how things will play out now that the only family she had has passed away. However, she soon learns from her aunt’s doctor that the family may have an unprecedented issue with hereditary dementia. Shaken and distressed, Rosa returns home where she comes face to face with her worst nightmare – a ghost. Has her cognitive ability already started its decline or is this ghost real?

The Blackwell Legacy Featured

She quickly steels herself with the decision that the ghost – named Joey – is real enough. Using his 1930s vernacular he explains how the previous Blackwell women also had Joey tag along with them in their waking lives. He doesn’t even know how it happened but he has become something of a legacy to the family line. According to Joey, as long as he’s around, the two of them must help wandering ghosts come to terms with their own death. By acting as a medium, Rosa will be able to finally set their spirits free.

The Blackwell Legacy certainly spins a good yarn. As far as gameplay is concerned, it’s pretty standard point and click adventure fare. However, it’s incredibly easy and that was something I really appreciated. There are no ridiculous puzzles and only a few bits of deduction necessary anyway. Mostly, you’re safe to guide Rosa and Joey to various destinations and see how things unfold.

Since the series includes five games, the first is incredibly short. I devoured the experience in one two hour sitting and wished for more. Of course, there was, as I have the other games too! In any case, The Blackwell Legacy proves to be a very promising start to a long-running series. I look forward to seeing what happens next!


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Sid Meier’s Covert Action Review

Covert Action Featured

Covert Action Boxart

Developer: MicroProse
Publisher: Tommo
Platform: PC – GOG*

Sid Meier is still a pretty well known name in the gaming world thanks to Civilization and Pirates! But that’s far from the extent of his development history. One that seems to have been forgotten by many is Sid Meier’s Covert Action from 1990. Considering how neat it was, I can’t figure out why it doesn’t receive praise today.

The player assumes the role of a CIA agent (Maxine or Maximillian) and are tasked with uncovering criminal activities on a global scale. To be a good agent, you must discover clues and track down people before they can orchestrate their plans or run away. Interestingly, Covert Action utilizes two very different types of gameplay to make this all work.

First there is the information-gathering which primarily takes the form of wire-tapping and decoding documents. Decoding itself is a fun little minigame. You can take information to have it analyzed or see what your pals at the CIA have to offer. Gathering info often requires your agent to get into dangerous circumstances. Basically, they’ll have to infiltrate enemy headquarters.

Covert Action Screenshot

Checking out enemy buildings is where the game transfers to a top-down perspective. You must explore the many rooms of buildings and hopefully hack into their machines or open their safes. Enemies will meander about and even set off alarms if they spot you. Thankfully, a minimap lets you know where enemies are so you can get the upper hand.

There is a lot about Covert Action that seems tremendously intriguing. It does show its age and isn’t going to light up many modern gamer enthusiasm, though. Shooting is fairly clunky and hideouts always seem too vast and maze-like. Also, the reward of going to the beach after catching a crook is ridiculously hokey. Oh, did anyone mention the appalling artwork? Despite all this, I can’t help being lured back in for more Covert Action cases.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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DROD 1+2+3 Review

DROD Featured

DROD Boxart

Developer: Caravel Games
Publisher: Caravel Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*

DROD, known more formally as Deadly Rooms of Death, is a tremendously fun (and sometimes frustrating) series of puzzle games starring Beethro Budkin. This fellow is the exact opposite of dashing and explores dungeons, killing enemies and solving puzzles as he goes. The three titles included in GOG’s collection are DROD: King Dugan’s Dungeon, DROD: Journey to Rooted Hold, and DROD: The City Beneath.

The first game is the simplest in regards to story. In fact, it’s barely there. Still, the gameplay is practically perfect in the first anyway. It is played from a top-down perspective as you navigate Beethro through various rooms. He’s armed with a sword that can be positioned in eight directions and that’s about it. Moving occurs in a turn-based fashion which is important to note when enemies are progressing near you. If you don’t get your weapon facing them directly before they arrive then you’re dead!

Many rooms have puzzles which vary in difficulty and type. Oftentimes, you’ll have to find out how to hit buttons in the right order (and without getting killed). Puzzles are often very creative which is fun unless you get stuck on one for a long time. At times like this, just try quitting the game for a while before coming back to it. If you still can’t figure it out then you can head to the game’s official forum which serve as a great resource for confused players.

DROD Screenshot

Playing DROD: King Dungan’s Dungeon might seem hard, but you can eventually get into the swing of things with enough perseverance. The sequels continue to ramp up difficulty which is why you may want to play the original first, even though Journey to Rooted Hold and The City Beneath both have a greater emphasis on story. In any case, no matter which game you’re playing they all follow the same basic formula: Solve puzzles and stab stuff.

Visually the games are all quite similar and do not look very pretty. However, the graphics hardly matter because the gameplay is so engrossing. Wracking your brain for solutions to tough sections quickly becomes commonplace but that makes finally solving them all the more rewarding. In a weird way, struggling against the difficulty becomes pleasant too. Anyone who is ready to test their mental mettle will find a worthy opponent in the DROD series.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi Review

Wing Commander II Featured

Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi Boxart

Developer: Origin Systems
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PC – DOS, GOG*

Wing Commander II picks up where the first game left off, with one slight problem… The Tiger’s Claw, which served as your home base, has been destroyed. Despite commendable efforts in the past, everyone thinks you were a traitor and blew it up! As such, this game picks up with your pilot completely disgraced, forced to work dull ferrying missions.

As the Kilrathi step up their attacks, everyone is needed in the fight – even you. As the game progresses, you’re able to show your worth to the crew although some still harbor their suspicions. Things only get worse once a murder occurs and everyone knows there is certainly a traitor aboard. Still, missions are passed down to you to complete, in much the same fashion as the last game.

What’s different this time around is how much attention is paid to story. In the past, story segments were mostly unveiled by talking to pilots in the cafeteria. This was good for getting a feel of each character but not so much for stringing together a truly interesting narrative. Now there are story segments between each mission (alongside mission briefings) which do much better at involving the player in Wing Commander’s world. There were definitely times I was surprised and saddened over events that took place.

Wing Commander II Featured

Gameplay has changed little. The biggest change is some new ships to pilot with their own special abilities. Beyond that though, everything is much the same. Using either the keyboard or mouse you engage in dogfights with the Kilrathi and try to make it out alive. It’s still as hard as ever, but Wing Commander II retains the ability to “lose” fights and still continue the story. There are only a few occasions where ejecting causes a game over. Unfortunately, when there are a lot of fighters on screen (or meteors), the game slows tremendously.

All in all, Wing Commander II is a great improvement over the original game in the ways I most wanted it to be. It has a deeper story, some improved graphics, and is still a fun experience. The GOG release includes Special Operations 1 and 2 expansion packs as well, although it lacks Speech Accessory Pack which patched in far more voice acting. It’s amazing how well this game still stands up as an action packed and entertaining ride.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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American McGee’s Grimm Review

American McGee's Grimm Featured

American McGee's Grimm Boxart

Developer: Spicy Horse
Publisher: Kiss Label
Platform: PC – GameTapGOG*

American McGee’s Grimm was an interesting experiment when it launched in 2008. The 23-part episodic series came out in three seasons and was presented by GameTap. It was part of their “original content” lineup, which I don’t think has seen much attention since. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem that the gaming world was quite ready for episodic games at the time. The product will hopefully get a second wind once it launches on Steam.

American McGee apparently really loves fairy tales. After all, his best known products are based on one (the Alice series). American McGee’s Grimm doesn’t focus on one story but a whole heaping bunch of them. Each episode tackles one from Grimm’s Fairy Tales’ expansive literary library. As a fan of fairy tales and their history, I was quite eager to give the game a shot.

As it turns out, the gameplay is very minimal. Mostly, you explore the worlds as a gross little gnome monster named Grimm. His goal is to change stories by dirtying them up. Because he is such a stinky, yucky fellow, all he has to do is wander over the fanciful landscape to turn it dark. Townsfolk and cute critters will attempt to clean the world as you do so, but once you have enough power even they are changed into disgusting/scary versions of themselves.

American McGee's Grimm Featured

Mainly all you have to do is walk and “paint” the world. The more things get turned, the stronger Grimm’s powers become. Eventually, he can transform everything around him. However, each stage usually just wants you to reach a certain level of yuckiness before proceeding on to the next area. Everything gets reset at that point and you go at it again.

If you don’t want to simply enjoy the landscape, stories, and ruckus caused by Grimm then this won’t be a fun game at all. However, if you like seeing fairy tales reverted to more crude and dangerous versions then it’s worth the time. Maybe. Playing through all three seasons takes over a dozen hours and there are points where the repetitive play is too much. American McGee’s Grimm looks great and offers an entertaining story to play along with.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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The Cat Lady Review

The Cat Lady Featured

The Cat Lady Boxart

Developer: Harvester Games
Publisher: Screen 7
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, FireFlower Games, GOG*, Phoenix Store, Steam

Adventure games have been one of my favorite genres for a long time. Although some call them archaic, I find them innately enjoyable. There’s something to inhabiting worlds that are usually very fleshed out, often humorous, and full of puzzles. Somehow, I managed to avoid playing The Cat Lady for an entire year. Now that I have, I feel the need to make sure anyone else who has ignored it plays the game immediately. Be warned that the main focus is on depression and suicide, so it could easily distress or trigger some players.

The story centers around a woman named Susan Ashworth. She lives alone in an apartment and likes it that way. For a long time, she has suffered from depression and the only joy she still gets out of life is the stray cats who come whenever she plays the piano. As the game begins, she has finally mustered up the courage to commit suicide. From there, things get strange as it quickly becomes apparent that even death won’t stop the suffering.

The Cat Lady Screenshot 1

Susan is a novel protagonist and I immediately grew attached to her. Although I have never experienced depression myself, I do know others who have and her character and condition were treated with respect. This is something you rarely see in games (and oftentimes, any other media). Her journey is unusual, dark, and disturbing but also empowering. Other characters are also well-written in their creepiness, annoyance, or friendliness. Although the events depicted become quite unreal, Susan is still a very grounded character.

Unlike most adventure games, The Cat Lady dodges a point and click interface. Instead, you move through 2D screens using the arrow keys. Picking up and using items also is handled in this manner. I felt this was very convenient because you always know what items to interact with and how that might work. Overall, the game is fairly simple puzzlewise which keeps it open to both gamers and non-gamers. This is a huge deal considering that the story is one that I think many people would benefit from experiencing.

Atmosphere is one of the strongest elements aside from story, and this game provides an incredible one. The art is unlike anything else out there, with usage of drawing, collage, pixel art, and seemingly painting and CG art. Although this sounds like it could spell disaster, the end result is stunning. Some say the game is ugly, but if it is that only enhances the off-kilter mood. Much of the world is black and white with only touches of color at times. It really sets the scene for Susan’s mood and the dire situations she encounters.

The Cat Lady Screenshot 2

Then there’s the audio which is nearly perfect. Musically, there are a great deal of tracks that immerse you further into the experience. There were only a couple times when I felt the music was out of place. Voice acting is also impressive, and much more so than some more “commercial” adventure games. Susan gets by far the best voice actress, but other characters are also well-acted. Only two (of many) characters sounded a bit silly to me. It’s quite an impressive effort, overall.

I do not think The Cat Lady is perfect, but it proved to be an experience that resonated with me. It brings depression to the forefront and discusses it honestly. Because of that, it’s hard to not get pulled into the world and need to see it through to the end. At times, it was hard to play (because of how it affected my mood) but incredibly worth it. If you have any interest in the subject matter or adventure games, The Cat Lady is simply a must-play game.


Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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