Sable

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Developer: Shedworks | Released: 2021 | Genre: 3PS, Adventure

This relatively fresh third person adventure game had a really stylish drawn style that reminded me a lot of European graphic novels, particularly those by Moebius.

In fact, that was the reason I got interested in it.

I controlled a teenager coming of age as she achieved the ability the float slowly downwards, which came in handy when climbing things and jumping across long distances. I was given a hover bike to navigate the big desert, looking for points of interest to explore. There was no combat of any kind, but RPG-style quests.

And it wasn’t just quests about obtaining a specific object or finishing some kind of collection quest. Some of the later quests involved the trope investigation chain and even breaking someone out of jail.

Eastshade

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Developer: Eastshade Studios | Released: 2019 | Genre: Adventure, Paint

In my backlog at GameDeed.com, I described this game as a peaceful open world exploration-adventure. It was pretty apt. As a mute protagonist I was washed ashore in a landscape with a town and a city, populated by affable humanoids with animal heads. Apes, owls, bears, deer.

The protagonist was a skilled painter and thus the overall goal was to get quests and commissions for naturalistic painting. There were also a lot of side quests of almost any kind, crafting, fishing, and even a little touch of survival thrown in for good measure. The open world was big enough to warrant many hours of exploration, yet it was also small enough that I could run from one end to another in a few minutes.

To put is shortly, it felt a lot like a lighthearted first person Elder Scrolls game without the combat.

The first town Lyndow was just a few houses. Most quests earned glowstones which was the currency in the game. A nice deviation was when a completed quest taught me how to craft something new. The user interface for crafting and keeping track of quests was logical and easy to use. By far the most used crafting option was of course combining boards and fabric to create a canvas for painting.

Walking around, meeting people in the world and doing various quests for them, felt good and relaxing, and the game was certainly commendable in that regard. If anything, it was a little too lighthearted a times, particularly in the beginning where it felt like a game for kids. This does ease off later, but sometimes I was also missing a bit of combat to spice things up.

I never thought I would ever see myself type that sentence.

Maybe that yearning for combat was because of how much the game looked like an open world RPG with all combat stripped out, rather than casual exploration closely related to pure adventure games.

Moebius: Empire Rising

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Developer: Pinkerton Road Studio | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click

I’ve completed the three Gabriel Knight games many years ago and gained a solid respect for Jane Jensen’s writing. That’s also why I backed the Kickstarter campaign for it in 2013. However, since its release it has received a mixed bag of reviews and it always had me avoid it in the Steam backlog.

Until now. And I confess that once again, it was originally my intention to play it for an hour or so and then dump it into my series about Short Sessions. The 3D models was not exactly doing it any favors.

But in spite of the mediocre walking animation, lip sync and those crazy eyeballs of persons trying to look behind their own ears, the story and the analyzing puzzles quickly grabbed me.

The protagonist, Malachi Rector, was a Sherlock Holmes kind of guy with a very high IQ. As an expert in antiquities with a photographic memory, he was sometimes hired to evaluate new antique findings, which he then ruthlessly declared to be trash. In spite of his elegant demeanor, he was sometimes belittling requests and sarcastically denounced objects around him. And he was regularly taking pills.

I immediately liked him.

Murdered: Soul Suspect

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Developer: Airtight Games | Released: 2014 | Genre: 3PS, Adventure

I’m going to bring the pros and cons in the end back again. I actually like writing them, and also reading them at a later time to remind me what I originally thought about the game in few words.

This was a really pleasant surprise. I’ve had it in my backlog for years but always postponed playing it. I had seen videos of the gameplay, and although the adventure part did look very appealing (that’s why I bought the game in the first place) the patrolling demons looked like they could be frustrating. Luckily, at first the demons were not that hard to deal with, and I really liked the smooth adventure puzzles.

The game started with a police detective being thrown out of a window and subsequently shot and killed by a masked killer. The detective became a bluish ghost and was shocked to see himself dead. Shades of that movie with Patrick Swayze, no doubt about that. I then had to investigate and solve my own death. Along the way, I sometimes found other ghosts with side cases about figuring out how they died too.

I liked the voice actor for the detective – a really good film noir fit.

The pure adventure part of the game was prevalent and absolute bliss. As soon as I got close to something, an action word was shown along with one or more hotkeys shown as actual keyboard buttons or a mouse with a highlighted button. It may sound simple, but it worked really well, especially as some hotkeys were automatically disabled if an action didn’t make sense in the given situation.

SpaceVenture

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Developer: Two Guys From Andromeda | Released: 2022 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click

I was a Kickstarter backer on this one and was sent the game by the developers. For some reason it’s not on Steam, but I think I can guess why. If it’s what I think it is, perhaps it never will be. Why?

Because it’s a buggy mess with a daft user interface.

This was a game I really had to force myself to complete. The characters, the story, most of the puzzles, the humor and the graphics were all excellent. If only the user interface and bugs had not been a problem, it could have been a gem worth recommending to all adventure game fans.

The game itself was a spiritual successor to the Space Quest series, and it was even developed by the same two guys. Instead of a buffoon like Roger Wilco, the hero in this one, Ace Hardway, was more of a seasoned plumber with a rumbling voice. He reminded me of a similar character in the platform game Rochard. Ace also had a mechanical dog called Rooster with an extendable tongue for grappling things from afar.

King’s Quest: Chapter 1

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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.

Verde Station

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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.

TIMEframe

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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.

Tacoma

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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.

Subject 13

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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.