Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Puritas Cordis: It's finally over

In case you couldn't tell, I didn't like it very much. The puzzles stopped being logical an hour in and got ever more idiotic. Even the walkthrough I used from that point on gave up on trying to keep up a logical sequence and just got it over with as quickly as possible. Urgh.

I hate you so very much.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Puritas Cordis: PHYSICS!!!

Lasers also don't work that way.

Puritas Cordis: What is this I don't even


Puritas Cordis: PHYSICS!!!

Things that do not work this way include capsizing and physics.

Also, where did that steel girder fall from?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis

And, of course, that was all I needed to start an actual game, specifically "Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis."

I'll turn this into a little CYOA myself, I suppose.

You are on a cruise ship. A strange man who has your luggage has apparently attached a note to the bottom of a kids' carousel, and wants you to read it. Do you:

a) tip over the carousel and read it?

b) attach a rollerskate to the carousel to move it over a skylight, steal a towel and ice bucket, fill the bucket with water and soap, steal an oar, wrap the towel around the oar, clean the skylight from below, then shine on it with an also-stolen flashlight so you can read the note?

c) call the authorities?

J.U.L.I.A. demo

I haven't posted in forever, I know, but I'm currently busy playing both Skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. These are the first CRPGs I've actually played since Planescape: Torment, which you need to buy now if you haven't, and buy again if you have.

I'm enjoying both immensely, so unfortunately the stuff on my backlog is getting very little love, so here's something current instead.

You, Mrs. Uncanny Valley, wake up with amnesia. You play hot/cold on a planet looking for resources (a.k.a. pixel hunting). Then you fly through an FMV sequence and drag the resources onto flashing boxes. How adventure game.

Then it suddenly turns into a voiceovered CYOA. With really, really bad voiceover. Think Samus Aran in Metroid: Other M, but even more lifeless.

At which point I quit. Don't play this.

Friday, November 5, 2010

(King's Quest 9) The Silver Lining, Episode 1

Well, if the review of this were over as quickly as the game, it would e

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sinking Island

Another adventure by White Birds, the company of Belgian graphic (and adventure) designer Benoit Sokal. Sokal previously made the very pretty but quite empty Amerzone, the two Syberia games (one very good, the other... less so) and the execrable Paradise.

Sinking Island places the player in the shoes of Detective Jack Norm, called to a private island to investigate a murder. The investigation mostly consists of clicking on everything in every room of the insane private hotel on this island and asking everyone about everything, listening to their endless monologues. Even the island gets bored of this very quickly and starts sinking, so you have limited time to complete the investigation.

Well, maybe. Let me explain.

There are two modes in which you can play this game: adventure mode, which works somewhat like Gabriel Knight 3 (triggering certain events or taking REALLY long advances the time, and new stuff happens, like dinner, or coffee, or dinner, or your wife calls, or dinner), and timed mode, in which you indeed have limited time to finish up the game.

I didn't try timed mode, but adventure mode certainly tried my patience: it's still time-based, but the timing is such that it assumes you want to listen to everyone drone on about absolutely everything. If you skip stuff, you will have lots and lots and lots of free time to wander around and admire the gorgeous scenery while you wait for the next dinner or phone-call-from-wife event.

This is, as I said, extremely tiring. Another thing that's rather tiring is that Norm asks everyone the same questions using the exact same phrase. This is occasionally amusing when he basically calls a young woman a hot chyk to her father's face, but those failures are too rare to make the game so bad it's good, and instead it's just booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooring.

The game is also advanced by solving several posed questions like "Who killed X" or "Was Y stolen?" For those, you go into your PDA-like device, which presents you with a list of empty clue fields you need to populate with the things you found -- photos, footprints, fingerprints, items, statements, and documents. So, for example, the "Was Y stolen?" question might require a document, two fingerprints, a photo, and four spoken statements. It is up to you to find the correct ones (thankfully the game will tell you how many you have) and use the Clue-inator to verify the solution, at which point it's spelled out for you again. You also use the PDA to check peoples' fingerprints etc.

Fortunately a person I needed to talk to vanished mysteriously and then the game crashed, so I watched the ending on YouTube. Absolutely everything is laid out in that ending, so ... the developers themselves didn't think anyone would pay attention? I don't know or care.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Three Cards to Midnight

This is not an adventure game.

Yes, it was made by the people who did Tex Murphy. I'm going to come out and say it: Tex Murphy is vastly overrated. (Which of them? All of them.)

This is an hidden object game. And not just any hidden object game: it's also a word-play game, so you have a common suffix that you need to find hidden stuff for to form a complete word (for example, you may have the word "finger", and need to find a ring and fish to form "ringfinger" and "fishfinger".

If that's too hard, you can use clues.

Except you can only get the "optimum path" if you don't use clues. But you can replay the scene without clues, right?

No, you get to replay the entire chapter in question, without using a single clue.

At which point I uninstalled this.

Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island

This is the second game by Bill Tiller's Autumn Moon studio, after A Vampyre Story. And much like that game, this too has Problems.

First, some praise, though: GPoVI handles being a ghost much, much better than the final instalment in Telltale's Tales of Monkey Island series. You can walk through stuff (though later on, the pathfinding algorithm suddenly moves you around stuff instead) and only directly influence smaller things.

The "I'll remember where this is for later so the player doesn't have to walk back ALL THE WAY and get it" mechanic is back, and welcome, though.

That's about it for the positives, though. The game begins in way over its head, and only sinks deeper from there. You get to play three characters at once, but their stories are entirely separate (closed in themselves, and fully linear), and the PCs interact a grand total of maybe five times over the course of the game; even there, you ask one of the other characters about stuff in your inventory, or how to clean a mirror (??). The jokes start out somewhat better than AVS's, but later turn into stupid and/or sexist as the writing runs completely out of steam, then dry-humps the cylinders.

The puzzles get ever more bizarre, and not in a good way: again, I found myself using a walkthrough from about the halfway point because the game degenerated into trial and error, then into plain WTF. The fact that it's impossible to skip the characters' inane blather (but all too easy to skip the cutscenes) made me want to experience as little of it as I could.

Oh, and there's a mini game where you have to try and lob a rock through a window by adjusting two dials that keep moving up and down. Fuck off.

And the ending? Worse than Monkey Island 3's. "Is that really possible?" you may ask.

Yes. Yes, it is.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Yoomurjak's Ring

To quote the game's website:

The municipality of Eger, a picturesque town in Hungary, was looking for alternative ideas for promoting their town in order to present its treasures and to attract tourists in an unconventional way, making also use of Gárdonyi’s popular book, ’The Eclipse of the Crescent Moon’, which won the Hungarian version of the Big Read competition.
And Private Moon Studios did just that. 600 panoramic views and 30 actors make this one of the largest -- and longest -- FMV games I've ever seen. The game is in Hungarian, with English subtitles that get progressively less spell-checked as the game proceeds, but are always good enough to allow solving the (sometimes very cryptic) puzzles.

A moment ago, I wrote actors, and, as far as I can tell, nearly all the people involved in this game are professional actors. There's none of the things that reveal amateur actors that I noticed. One pet peeve of mine is the unfinished sentence pause: Actor A begins a sentence, and Actor B is to talk over them; but A finishes his half-sentence, there's a pause, and only then does B begin to speak. A classic mistake, and I was delighted not to find it in this game (although the subtitles inform me that Hungarians say "Bye" when greeting each other and "Hi" when taking leave).

The only person sticking out is the villain's goon: apparently, rappers are as talented actors in Hungary as everywhere else. But seriously, he's supposed to be threatening, and he's physically imposing and in-your-face enough to make up for the lack of acting chops. Not really a problem.

The game is as much an advertisement for the city of Eger as it is a mystery game: the protagonist, grandson of the AGON series' main character, arrives in the city with mysterious clues and is quickly drawn into an epic quest for the titular Ring of Yoomurjak, which means following hints all across the city, solving puzzles, getting help from the world's most patient tourist information lady/love interest, and making what is apparently the only taxi driver in the city filthy rich.

There are about 45 minutes of video in the game, and the rest is filled with gorgeous 3D panoramas of almost the entire historical city center of Eger, as well as several other locations. Things that can be clicked on are sparse and only available in the main areas, of course; but it is also refreshing that the game does not force you to wade through 500 pages of "interesting" historical information at a time in order to locate puzzle hints and Educate the PlayerTM. There is history to be imparted, but it happens gradually, and infodumps are rare (and usually happen in conversations with others instead via static text). It does the job well -- It made me want to go and see the city for myself, at least.

The puzzles you encounter are similar to the ones found in the AGON series: expect decryption, locating clues, and putting them together to further the story. The game eases you into this, then gradually ramps up the difficulty until you're visiting multiple locations to put together a single clue, dabbling in heraldry, and taking copious notes for cross-reference with other things you've seen. The penultimate clue-gathering section is massive, and was unfinishable for me without resorting to a walkthrough.

The story is nicely plotted out, and is a bit reminiscent of the "historical fiction" genre made popular by, inexplicably, Dan Brown; it weaves the real history of Eger and Gárdonyi’s book with the story the development studio came up with, and does so well (also, the writing is better). I don't really want to go into any detail -- the game is best enjoyed unspoilered.

The list of recommended FMV adventures was short before the second wave came about: Gabriel Knight 2 is pretty much the only pure-FMV entry, and then there's a few games that use FMV, but not exclusively, like Zork: Nemesis and Zork Grand Inquisitor.

Yoomurjak's Ring is more of an FMV/First-Person hybrid, similar to the two Zorks, but having a protagonist with a face and a voice makes interaction more believable, and grounding the puzzles in the real world makes for a more cohesive story.

Also, you get to learn Hungarian! Kössönöm!

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

There's nothing at this point I can say about Monkey Island, so I'll just quickly summarize the points that I think went wrong in this remake (assume everything else went right!):

  • Stan's voice is horrendous.
  • You can't skip single lines of dialogue in the new-graphics version.
These two, it turns out, are closely related. I switched to old-style graphics to make the ship purchase puzzle bearable.

Other than that, well played, LucasArts. The earlier release of older games onto Steam was pretty lame -- what self-respecting adventure fan doesn't have these? -- but the Special Edition shows that, unlike certain other companies*, LucasArts are interested in their customer base.

* Yes, this means you, Vivendi. Dumping crap versions of Sierra collections onto Steam because you noticed someone else makes money that way? Sod off.

Tales of Monkey Island

It's a Monkey Island game.

It's 3D but has mouse controls.

It has no insult combat.

Go buy it.

Gobliiins 4 short review

After the downfall of Sierra, I'm sure nobody expected there would ever be another instalment in the popular Gobliiins series, and yet, here it is!

Designed by the original games' designer, Pierre Gilhodes, and published through a small studio, this foray into 3D is charming and unpretentious, but cannot hold a candle to modern 3D titles in the looks department. Sound, as always in the Gobliiins series, is incomprehensible semi-instrumental mumbling (think the grown-ups in the Peanuts cartoons), and there's a nice soundtrack to boot.

There's really not much to say: if you liked the old games, you'll like this one, although some puzzle solutions are really over-used; if you see "soft earth", you know what's coming. All the other staples of the series are there: silly animations, exact timing, coöperation between the trio.

Some of the levels are particularly imaginative, like the one that takes place entirely in a newspaper that's being read on-screen, or the bonus level.

The game's a bit on the short side, but I can't not recommend it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Die Höhlenwelt Saga

Ah yes, an OLD-school adventure. And part one of a series. Guess what was never made!

Höhlenwelt Saga is one of those games that gives you a limited resource of something (money, in this case) and makes you figure out ways of acquiring more, or optimize your path such that you never run out. I never found out what happens if you do run out, but since you need to park your flying dragon for 3 credits every single time you land it somewhere, and go through the same inane "here's my dragon"/"can I have my dragon back" dialogue every single time, I would suspect you're screwed if you don't read about more ways to make money in the walkthrough find out what to sell to whom in order to make more money BEFORE you run out.

The plot? You're this space traveller who met his true love, but then she ran off with this other guy, so you're trying to track her down. And then the other guy, Cal, turns out to be a robotic savior of some kind, and directs you to the titular Cave World, which is a world that's part fantasy, part sf (you have alien invaders with advanced technology, but also dragons and magic). The author of the game was an acclaimed German fantasy writer, and used to write text adventures, so the world works pretty well for the most part, although there are some baffling things the protagonist can get away with, like: throwing pies in alien soldiers' faces; throwing exploding stink mushrooms at alien soldiers; and other insolence.

The way dialog trees are implemented is also somewhat bizarre: you can keep looping around until you happen upon the correct line of reasoning to get information (or someone to do something for you). This despite the game claiming that your dialog choices can have longer-lasting effects on the game (they don't). Furthermore, apparently "How is business, kind Sir?" will get you a tongue-lashing from a businessman, while "Heidau, dude, whassup yo?" will not. Ooo-kay.

Also interesting but slightly creepy is your "true love"'s reaction to seeing you -- she mostly remains coldly indifferent, sometimes even hostile, throughout, until the very end where you can coax her into a kiss with the right choice of dialog. And the main character will happily flirt with any other moderately attractive woman in the game, so there must be something I'm not getting here. Or the author.

So you travel around the place collecting stuff. Sometimes, you go back to the same place only to find new stuff there, and the protagonist even comments on this. Note to game authors: this is lame.

And, of course, while you manage to achieve the goal of this game, it ends on a cliffhanger that was never resolved. Apparently, so do the novels, since the author died mid-series, and wasn't famous enough to get Brandon Sanderson to complete it.

Overall, however: not a bad game. Too bad it's German-only and most of my audience won't get to play it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Schizm, a repost from 2002

Note: this isn't as much a review of Schizm as a rant about what I didn't like. And it's been quite a long time since I've been so annoyed by an adventure game as I was by Schizm (the last time must have been "Rent-A-Hero", which is probably the single worst adventure game I've ever played in my life), so read ahead at your own peril.

How to make the ultimate annoying adventure game:

Make every movement in the game a cutscene. Cut up longer movements into small pieces so the player has to click more often.

Do NOT make these cutscenes skippable. Play them every single time. In the DVD version, add additional movement scenes that hold the player up EVEN LONGER, like jumping fish or buzzing bees.

Make sure, for total playing time, that the player has to run across half the world and back for every single puzzle. In fact, since there are two player characters the player controls, make sure he has to RUN EACH OF THEM ACROSS HALF THE WORLD AND BACK SEPERATELY FOR EVERY SINGLE PUZZLE, PREFERABLY SEVERAL TIMES. Ensure getting from point A to point B takes at least 15 minutes of real time.

Since there's more space on the DVD, make sure to add a few bonus puzzles which involve EVEN MORE POINTLESS RUNNING AROUND, not to mention additional uninterruptable cutscenes which require you to flip the DVD over twice.

While speaking of flipping the DVD over, make sure the installer pops up when you switch to side A, killing the game in progress. In fact, make sure that Alt-Tab or incoming ICQ messages or any other disturbance kill the game in progress.

Add completely gratuitous play-against-the-computer puzzles. Require the player solve several of them in a row without being allowed to save inbetween. Then repeat the same puzzle later, only make it even MORE ANNOYING. Make the hints for puzzles extremely obscure, not to mention hiding them on the other side of the game world.

Add puzzles relying on sound. Make the sound as unintelligible as possible, just in case. Add lots of red herrings as well, so the player has to try everything at least five times.


A Vampyre Story

This game has, first and foremost, the same problem as "Al Emmo," which I don't own and never plan to: the protagonist's voice is incredibly grating. A faux French accent, which drops out randomly, delivered in a high pitch. Yargh.

A Vampyre Story is the first new game by Autumn Moon Games, a company founded by ex-LucasArtsies, with Bill Tiller at the Helm. And I mean "first" -- the story ends halfway through and indicates I should wait for AVS2. Given the track record of games with cliffhangers that are never resolved, I don't hold high hopes, but I'm willing to be surprised.

It'll have to be a more positive surprise than AVS1, however, which was pretty mediocre for the most part. It starts out with a few good puzzles, then bogs down in the mid-game with a gigantic try-and-retry potion mixing puzzle (at which point I started using a walkthrough), then descends, as the second halves of adventures so often do, into nonsensical puzzles.

You play as Mona, a French opera singer who's been turned into a vampire by Baron Von Shroudy, whose love for her she rejects. So he locks her into his castle until she changes her mind, with only a smartass bat for company. Mona, however, refuses to acknowledge that she is, in fact, a vampire, finding ever more bizarre explanations for her behavior, or (like any good politician) simply ignoring reality. Naturally, Froderick, her bat companion, comments on these fugues as much as on anything else in the game; fortunately, the voice actor is vastly superior to Mona's, or the game would become entirely unplayable.

The hallmark of LucasArts games was humor, and while Telltale nailed Sam & Max, AVS never really gets off the ground. The jokes are either juvenile (probably to appeal to a younger audience), dark (and often, but not often enough, funny, but not for kids), or most often simply fall flat spectacularlylamely.

The major new mechanic in AVS is having "ideas" in your inventory -- Mona's not going to drag this shovel around all game, but she knows where it is, and if you want to use it, she'll automatically go grab it, bring it back to the current location, and use it. Unfortunately, this is done via multiple cutscenes, which are randomly either skippable or not, and even when they're skippable one has to hit the space bar an excruciating 5 or 6 times. Every time. At one point, you have to click an object to get its idea first, then click the idea on something in the same room, which you can't even leave at that point, which generates another idea, which you can then use on yet another object in the same room. That is, maybe, a bit too much.

On the positive side, the locations are beautifully drawn and have useful shortcuts, mostly avoiding that other staple of second halves of adventure games: running across the entire game world multiple times to do boring fetch quests. Even better: the right mouse button skips directly to a new location if you click it on an arrow. Less good: the right mouse button also brings up your inventory, so you have to make sure you're NOT on an arrow if you want that.

As it is, I can't really recommend AVS if you want side-splitting comedy and an actual ending. I'm hoping, though, that this first excursion by Autumn Moon will teach the company the dos and don'ts of adventure gaming (though, shouldn't they already know?) and that the second part will be more interesting.

If it ever turns up.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Legend of Kyrandia 3

I wrote:

Let's hope the third one is even better.

It's not. Didn't have the energy to put up with another Kyrandia 1.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Legend of Kyrandia 2

(Warning: spoilers!)

Looks like the designers of the second Legend of Kyrandia learned half a lesson from the mistakes of the first game (two words: "everglowing fireberries"). This game has double the inventory space, and frequently purges unnecessary stuff, so you don't run out of inventory slots. And it only involves the insufferable Brandon during the intro, after which you take control of Zanthia. Her mission: having figured out why parts of Kyrandia are disappearing, she is sent to the center of the world to find an anchorstone which will presumably fix this.

But she can't just use a portal, unlike everyone else in the game, because she's out of blueberries. No, seriously. So it's off to a bunch of wacky adventures, including a game of Simon that you really need to write down the color order of and further fetch-and-deliver and interpret-these-instructions-in-a-punny-way-to-make-a-potion quests. All of which don't take all that much time, so at some point the designers apparently realized that the game didn't take long enough and added padding. So you get to pick up 6 coins for these guys. Then 6 other things. Then 6 more things. Then they tell you you could have just jumped in a vent -- but if you try that before they tell you, it doesn't work! Later, you get to make all the potions you've made again. All the ingredients are right there on a shelf, so it's clearly only playing for time, and probably also hoping to trick you into ordering the colors the same way as you did in the Simon game and two subsequent times, but here's a free hint: that is not it. Roy B. Giv is your friend.

The plot is so incredibly stupid I don't even want to begin to get into it. Wait, you want me to? Ok. Here's the twist: apparently this sorcerer exploded, and now his body parts are wreaking havoc on the world. As Rod Hilton might put it, "this actually f---ing happens."

Even with the artificial padding and pixel hunting it took me little more than three hours to finish the game (again, by walkthrough -- I'm not playing any of these old games without one). This was such an improvement over the first game that it's hard to put into words. Let's hope the third one is even better.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I had actually started this after it came out but shied away from a particular action sequence in which one needs to sneak past or fight a number of trolls, and so the game lay around unplayed for almost two years before I gave it another chance. And boy am I glad that I did.

Dreamfall is the sequel to The Longest Journey, and I wouldn't recommend trying it without having played the first instalment: returning characters and concepts are only explained cursorily, if at all. Furthermore, if you thought The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King had a lot of endings, or if you hate cliffhangers, don't play this game, because it sure has a lot of endings, and all of them are cliffhangers. And the third part(s?) are nowhere in sight and unlikely to emerge in the near future.

Oh, and if you want to play this with the mouse? Forget it. Get a joypad (I used the Xbox360 one).

With that out of the way, what did I think? Dreamfall is an extremely pretty game with a very well-written storyline and a stupid tacked-on combat system that does little but suck (but also does not mar my enjoyment of the game all that much).

A quick digression about action sequences: I hate action sequences in adventure games. I'm an adventure purist, and had to force myself to finish Broken Sword 3: Sokoban and Broken Sword 4: Sneakasmatron. Space Quest 3 with its endless action sequences near the end, is still on my list of worst adventure games. I'm really bad at hand-eye coördination, and these sequences are therefore annoying stumbling blocks to me -- I had to play the fight at the end of SQ3 more than 50 times (if not a hundred, memory mercifully fails me here) before I got it. Therefore, if you include action sequences in your game, prepare to get a bucketful of hate from me.

I found the action sequences in Dreamfall to be unnecessarily tacked on, but even I could finish most of them on the first try. I have to label the combat system entirely broken. As long as you rush an enemy and keep hitting, they mostly just stand around looking stupid until they die, and you're never in any danger. When there are two or more enemies to fight, they will happily stand around awaiting their turn to be slaughtered. Why was this included at all?

The sneaking sequences make more sense, but here the other problem with Dreamfall comes in: the camera isn't good enough to support this fully. Fortunately, the other characters are all completely deaf, and the sequences are, again, pretty easy.

Lastly, there are "hacking" sequences, which are time-limited minigames. Also not very hard, also tacked-on and unnecessary.

The strength of the story absolves Dreamfall of all these problems. Even in the last fourth or so, where the game falls into the good old "let's make the player run all across the world to fulfil fetch quests" rut for a while, the story kept me going. The game is very cinematic and switches between three playable characters and in-engine cutscenes to create a "movie" experience quite unlike any other game before or after it. I can't really say much more without spoiling the experience, and in this case I don't want to -- go play and enjoy TLJ and Dreamfall.

Legend of Kyrandia

(Warning: spoilers!)


Wow, wow, wow.

What an unbelievably awful game.

I had thought the Kyrandia series was well-regarded and well-loved by adventure gamers; after all, it made it into ScummVM, right?


When the main character, Brandon, isn't being as incoherent as a Markov chain generator, literally every single thing he says that is obviously intended as a "quip" makes me want to slap either him or whoever wrote this drivel:
"When I find a merchant... I'll buy a new pair of socks!"
Yes, he actually says that. Out of the blue. Fortunately, he's hit on the head by a branch right after. The only moment in the game I genuinely enjoyed.

Objects drop randomly in the game world. There's an inventory limit. There's no indication of which items are and aren't important, or when they will be. You can destroy objects you'll need later permanently and will have to re-find them (I think you can; or maybe the game is unwinnable). There are endless fetch-quests taking you, of course, across the entire world to get item A for person B. Oh, and also get item C. And item D. No, I couldn't have told you that the first time, why do you ask?

There's a maze. It's not just a maze, though: you need to light it up. There are bushes with berries that provide light. Except, each time you change the screen, they grow one step darker, until they go out entirely in the fourth. Of course, if you drop them on the floor, they provide light eternally. This is not just aggravating but also nonsensical. Even with a walkthrough this maze takes forever. And, of course, you have to traverse it multiple times. 

There's a bit where you have to make potions. You need two ingredients for each potion, and of course they come from entirely different parts of the game world. There's a number of basic potions you can make, and then you need to combine two basic potions to make more powerful potions. You don't know which does which, and you don't know which you'll need, or how many of them. Gathering the items required to make them takes forever, and even foreverer thanks to the inventory limit. Oh, and of course the place where you mix the basic potions and the place where you turn them into the potions you actually need are not the same location.

Oh, and of course Brandon is actually a prince. Then the king.

Were gamers this much more patient? Am I misguided in thinking that people liked this game? Is it impossible to microwave floppy disks? Because a good microwaving is what this game deserves.

I talked about finishing this to a friend. "F**k that game forever," he said. 

I agree.

Dragon Lore

Awful graphics, entirely unhinted story, and only one incoherent walkthrough available on the web. Suffice it to say I gave up very quickly and will not revisit.


(Warning: spoilers!)

Microprose's Dragonsphere is not a good game. The puzzles are hair-raisingly illogical; I had to play the entire game with a walkthrough and have no idea how many of these puzzles are even remotely solvable without endless trial and error.

The story begins cliché enough: you're this prince, there's this evil sorcerer, he's been imprisoned. You have a Dragonsphere, which shows how strong the prison of the bad guy is, and it gets progressively weaker over the course of the game.

I should say "over the course of half the game," really. When I started playing the game, I noticed a few odd things about this prince I was playing -- he seemed like a mannerless oaf, very much not the Graham of King's Quest.

And, as it turns out, you don't actually play the prince. You're a shapeshifter, a race feared and/or hated by many in the kingdom, and after you finish off the bad guy roughly 2/3rds through the game, the queen and the prince's traitorous brother have no more need of you. An interesting twist in what would have otherwise been a straightforward paint-by-numbers fantasy adventure, but the awfulness of the puzzles and the completely unnecessary inclusion of a luck-based game you have to win roughly 20 times as a filler still makes me put it firmly in the "mediocre" category.

The Neverhood

The Neverhood was the first game I attempted to finish. Unfortunately, there are bugs -- I'm not sure if they're in the actual game, or if they're caused by emulation, but when you save a game then restore later, all the puzzle solutions you've already seen are reset to a new configuration. This meant I couldn't finish the game with the notes I'd made and, while I liked it, I didn't like it quite enough to go back and re-play it from the start in a single session.

The game uses claymation for everything and switches between third and first person view depending on whether you're in a puzzle or a travel area. Unfortunately, there is a massive amount of dead space to cross and re-cross and re-re-cross and re-re-re-cross and it gets old quick, and then there's the hall of records, which is like 35 screens of multiple columns of text giving the entire backstory of the game, and the game requires you to traverse all those screens to the very end to pick up an item and then all the way back. If there's a more blatant filler in any game, tell me right now so I can avoid.

The puzzles usually also require travelling to some random location on the very other end of the world, then coming back. It's too bad, because the game is prettily made and funny, but there's no meat there, it's all filler.

What is this?

Recently, while mulling over a bunch of possible adventure game purchases, I suddenly thought hmm, I have so many unplayed adventures still sitting around, perhaps I should try some of them before buying even more?

And so, a purchase moratorium until I've tried and/or finished at least a few of them, and this the chronicle of my playing.

The full list of games (bold played, otherwise unplayed) resides here.