Read more “King’s Quest: Chapter 1”
Developer: The Odd Gentlemen | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, 3D
As of this post I will stop adding pros and cons. My web statistics tell me that pretty much no one is reading these reviews but me, and then I might as well not waste time pretending to be a reviewer.
This game really surprised me. I didn’t expect all that much apart from a modern take on the classic Sierra adventure games, but it was really top notch. Great animation, wonderful and funny dialog, lots of humor, and some ingenious puzzles too. Long and varied too. Definitely not bad for a free first chapter.
The game used much of the same template as Telltale Games who did e.g The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. Even down to the cel shaded style. I could steer young Graham around with direction keys on scenes that sometimes were static, sometimes scrolling, clicking on things to interact. To spice things up, the adventure was sometimes complemented with a blend of arcade action and QTE sequences.
The 3D adventure reminded me of Simon the Sorcerer 3D, and the QTE of Dragon’s Lair. Although QTE in games of today are technically already derived from Dragon’s Lair, it felt particularly strong here because of the first scene in a, well, dragon’s lair. Or perhaps I should say prison.
I completed this first chapter in one sitting taking 6 hours, and I’m happy I spent time with it. The adventure game parts quickly opened up with multiple locations and non-linear solutions, and the dialog was often splendid. I can’t say that I was a fan of all of the action stuff, though. Some sequences such as avoiding dragon fire, shooting goblins with a bow, and a race with a narcissistic knight was a bit too much.
Read more “Call of Juarez: Gunslinger”
Developer: Techland | Released: 2013 | Genre: FPS, Western
Finally I arrived at the third in this western series – the best of the trilogy.
This western FPS was significantly improved in most departments. The almost cel-shaded graphics and the sound effects were both outstanding, the dual and concentration modes refined even further, and it now sported an excellent level-up system. I lamented the loss of the anti-heroes of the first two games, but it was made up for by a charming tale of a new gunslinger meeting the legends of the Wild West.
Stealth and jumping was dialed down even further, mostly focusing on pure shootouts. The cover system no longer glued me to the crates and wall corners, but I still found it to be an improvement on the second game. Objects used for cover were now always easy to see and usually in abundance, and the few shots I received (shown as bullet damage to the screen) was easily shaken off while reloading in cover.
Together with easily spotted enemies, this made the game easier in the beginning.
Read more “Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood”
Developer: Techland | Released: 2009 | Genre: FPS, Western
I actually didn’t like this much at first. The game threw me into the trenches of the civil war and pushed me from point to point with little time to stop and smell the roses. The static HUD was also gone, replaced with temporary UI elements whenever a key was held down. It felt like the developers wanted it to be Call of Duty: Bound in Blood rather than a proper sequel to Call of Juarez.
Also, it was a prequel – telling the story of the three McCall brothers.
I did eventually get used to the different style and the game was indeed much more slick than the first one. Both loading and saving was now very fast, the Chrome Engine looked competitive, and the cutscenes were now much more cinematic. The troublesome stealth sequences of the first game were gone. Instead, shootouts now pretty much dominated the game.
But I must say, I never really liked the HUD-less UI with no health bar or action slots. Having the border of the screen glow red, perhaps with a squirt of blood sprayed, has always been way too ambiguous to me. Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always wanted to have the vital information displayed at all times.
That’s what I really liked about Wolfenstein: The New Order.
Read more “The Call of Juarez Series”
I’ve always wanted to try out the trilogy of the Call of Juarez western FPS games by Techland. It’s sort of another leftover from when I was deep into video games many years ago. I’ve had Gunslinger from 2013 in my Steam library for quite a while, and last week I bought the two oldest games from 2006 and 2009 cheap on sale. So with all three games in hand, I decided to try them out back to back.
I won’t be playing The Cartel since it’s not a western. Besides, it received a lot of negative reviews.
Call of Juarez
Developer: Techland | Released: 2006 | Genre: FPS, Western
Quite an old FPS by now, it’s the first in the series in Techland’s in-house Chrome Engine. Steam started the game in DirectX 9, but a tech site recommended I started an executable file for DirectX 10, since it would look a lot better in that. They were right – the lighting was much better, and the grass more dense.
When I published the first version of this blog post, I actually didn’t want to complete this game.
It’s not because the gameplay scared me away. Sure, it had its share of annoying features such as forced stealth, time limits, excessive reloading and bullet sponge enemies, but it didn’t seem too unfair and I still wanted to experience the game. However, there were issues of a more technical nature.
Read more “Verde Station”
Developer: Duelboot | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, Facile
This one barely took an hour to get through – I almost put it in a Short Sessions blog post instead.
It felt crude and simple in the beginning, like a small fan mission for e.g. Half-Life. I woke up in a space station – all alone of course – and walked from a bedroom to a greenhouse, then to a lounge, the kitchen, and back into the greenhouse. I was about to quit at that point, but then I noticed that something was different. Turned out that time had passed when looping through the sections.
This immediately made the experience more interesting. I kept circling around in the sections to observe the changes. This led to a new location and a surprise. And as a free game, I’d say the surprise is worth giving it a shot – just don’t expect awesomeness.
Read more “TIMEframe”
Developer: Random Seed Games | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Facile
A very short
walking simulator facile adventure. It took me about 66 minutes to get through it.
I spawned in the middle of a big desert area and had to find more than a dozen points of interest. Usually temples, cities and huge statues with an object to click for a screen of white text. Time was slowed down significantly and that gave me a few minutes to seek out two or three of the points before an asteroid brought upon the apocalypse. It was not possible to visit all points in one session alone.
Oh, the irony. I just came from Outer Wilds, another game that gave me limited time to explore before a celestial event annihilated everything – forcing me to start over again.
Now, the day after, I happened to play another game with the exact same core idea.
Read more “Tacoma”
Developer: The Fullbright Company | Released: 2017 | Genre: Adventure, Facile
I’d say this is one of the best of its kind, if you’re into
walking simulators facile adventures.
As a female investigator I arrived at a big space station orbiting Earth. A crew of six had gone missing after a breach of oxygen and loss of communication, and it was my job to find out what happened. But due to the nature of this genre, it was pretty much devoid of actual puzzles or action.
I could enter three major sections of the space station in a specific order and play back AR recordings of the ghostly appearances of the crew members. It was even possible to rewind and fast forward while walking between their spacetime placeholders. Sometimes I could access their AR logs and mail system too. The only thing that required a little bit of attention was if a 4-digit code for a door was revealed.
I bet this game would be great with Virtual Reality goggles.
Read more “The Turing Test”
Developer: Bulkhead Interactive | Released: 2016 | Genre: Puzzle, First Person
Another Portal clone. I really liked this one – it felt so polished. Objects could be lifted and rotated, but when you hit the same hotkey again, it was put back exactly as it was found – it wasn’t just dropped to be shuffled around by gravity like in other games. Handles could be moved when holding down the mouse button and then moving the mouse. And the watching robot had a wonderful “Jeremy Irons” voice.
It all made for a great first impression.
The actual gimmick was surprisingly unsophisticated. Instead of a gun with a magical superpower, I could merely suck or shoot energy spheres into large sockets. Sometimes also move a box with an energy sphere locked up inside. Both activated something, like a door, a bridge, a light laser – all the kind of stuff you usually find in these games. The puzzles were good and for the most part not too difficult.
At least up until the final two chapters where the bigger areas were dominating.
Read more “Subject 13”
Developer: Paul Cuisset | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click
Next up in my (barely diminishing) backlog was this adventure game by the creator of the classic platformer Flashback, which is probably why I bought it cheap on sale some years ago.
It turned out to be unremarkable, with a just touch of 3D viewing and ungraceful controls.
The game started with the attempted suicide of the protagonist, Franklin, who then awakens in a pod on an island where a robotic voice wants him to solve puzzles. There were four chapters lasting about 6 hours for me, starting in a laboratory and then continuing outside on the island itself.
Each of the chapters had typically 2-3 screens. Both the screens and most zoomed-in locations had a subtle touch of 3D viewing around an object, or at least a little bit to the sides. This was actually confusing in the beginning of the game and had me overlook some points of interest because they were hidden behind an object. Interacting with an object was also weird by having me open a few icons with a mouse button and then dragging the mouse in the direction of the chosen icon.
This reminded me of Fahrenheit that I tried recently, where something like this was also required.
Read more “Scanner Sombre”
Developer: Introversion Software | Released: 2017 | Genre: Adventure, Exploration
Finally a game that made me very happy to still be a PC gamer. This one was fascinating and had me glued to the screen for the two hours it lasted. Sure, that’s not exactly long – but the main gimmick does get a little exhausting and so I was actually glad it wasn’t longer.
As a first person exploration game, I spawned in a tent in the bottom of an enormous cave system. The tent itself had the only static light in the entire game. Outside, I picked up VR goggles and a hand-held scanner. The scanner could be activated to shoot out a cluster of lasers for drawing dots on the walls of the cave. Holding the scanner in the same direction added more dots for more details.
It was quite clever and immediately made the cave feel deep, vast and unexplored.