Posts Tagged ‘point and click’

MISSING: An Interactive Thriller – Episode One Review

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Developer: Zandel Media
Publisher: Zandel Media
Platform: PC – Steam

MISSING: An Interactive Thriller – Episode One is the first in (hopefully) a series of point and click “escape the room”-style games. As you can probably tell from the images, it also happens to be chock full of full motion video (FMV). I don’t know what exactly spurred this sudden FMV resurgence, but I’m definitely into it.

In any case, it starts you out right in the thick of things as you’re presented with a dude chained up in a room. Without getting much more context than that, we know what to do: Get those cuffs off! This is just the first of a dozen or so puzzles that you’ll need to solve in order to get out of this incredibly strange situation.

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Puzzles are incredibly simple for the most part, with at least one that left me frustrated. Mostly, that was due to my own overthinking of the darn thing, though. The story is a bit disturbing in what it implies, the acting is fairly good, and the scenes are shot well. The biggest issue is that it only took me about half an hour to complete it.

I’m hoping that the relative brevity of MISSING: An Interactive Thriller – Episode One will mean new episodes release frequently. However, it could be quite a while before we can check back in. In any case, the inaugural episode was a neat little game and I look forward to checking out later episodes as they release.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Armikrog Review

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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?

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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).

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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.

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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


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Toonstruck Review

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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.

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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


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Grim Fandango Remastered Review

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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.”

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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


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Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse Review

Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo's Curse

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Developer: Viacom New Media
Publisher: Viacom New Media
Platform: PC – DOS, Macintosh

Are You Afraid of the Dark? was one show on Nickelodeon that both enticed and frightened me during its run. Until recently I’d never realized any games existed for the series. Yet, a lone point and click adventure was released! Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse places you in the shoes of the newest storyteller hoping to join the Midnight Society. Depending on how you “tell” the tale determines whether they let you in or not.

It’s actually a really cool framing for a digital episode of the show. Of course, you can only tell “The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse” but it changes depending how you play. Screw up and the other kids become excited or disappointed over the turn of events and give you hints on how to get things back on track. Of course, this framing is at the sidelines and most of your time is spent with the stars of this story: Terry and Alex.

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These two siblings have somehow found themselves at Orpheo’s Palace – a run down theater which used to show magic performances. Of course, somehow they get in and discover that Orpheo is apparently alive and well and wants to use them in his sinister trick. As you explore you’ll discover hidden rooms, a variety of different, but mostly simplistic puzzles, and a surprising amount of danger. With that said, as a game targeted to Nickelodeon’s audience it’s not tremendously challenging.

What impressed me most about The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse was not its mix of FMV and CG animation (as that was suddenly quite hip at the time) but simply how user-friendly it is. Whenever you lose the game offers an immediate return to where you had just been. In fact, if you complete it in one sitting you’d never have to save once. This surprising convenience helped lessen the pain of a final chase sequence and other little flubs. If you like Are You Afraid of the Dark? or even just the early era of 3D adventure games then definitely find a copy of Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Review

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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.

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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.

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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


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A Golden Wake Review

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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.

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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


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Finding Teddy Review

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Developer: LookAtMyGames
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – DesuraSteam

When I started up Finding Teddy I really had no idea what to expect. It begins with a view of a young girl in her bedroom. While she’s sleeping a gigantic hairy spider limb reaches through her closet and steals her teddy bear. She wakes teddy bear-less and ponders for a moment before heading into her opened closet. From there, players are transported to some entirely different realm.

This simple introduction really excited me to sit down and play the game all the way through in one sitting. Of course, it’s a fairly short experience (one to three hours) but neat nonetheless. Finding Teddy is a point and click style adventure game with a couple of puzzle types. There are the standard item puzzles which require you to use a certain object with the right thing to make something happen. However, there are also puzzles related to repeating back songs in the right place.

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It’s the musical puzzles that help set this game apart mechanically from others. Each music note stands for one of the letters of the English alphabet (and even have similar shapes). Through music the player conveys words and ideas to the world’s inhabitants. This could mean you ask for “help” from one or tell another to “dig” a hole. I liked this concept and was sad to see how short the game is.

Most puzzles make a lot of sense just as long as you’re very aware of weird bits in the environment. Also make sure to use your fly and/or cat partners once they’re added to the team. Finding Teddy is a brief but very nice adventure game. It’s obviously optimized for touch devices (as you click on edges of the screen to move) but the PC release better showcases the pixel art. Basically, you’re in for a treat regardless of the platform you choose to play Finding Teddy on.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Bad Mojo Redux Review

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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.

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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


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The Labyrinth of Time Review

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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.

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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


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