Scanner Sombre

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.

The Park

Read more “The Park”

Developer: Funcom | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Horror

I completed this short walking simulator facile adventure in less than two hours.

It was a first person horror game taking place in a dark and foreboding abandoned amusement park. As a mother, I was looking for her son Callum that ran away from the car and into this park. I could call to him with the right mouse button, but he never came back. He just wanted me to follow his lead.

Along the way I came across various dilapidated big amusements such as a slow swan boat, a ferris wheel, a roller coaster, etc. I could even ride most of these, typically while the mother told me about her strained relationship with her kid – or a story told in some other way.

This wasn’t exactly the most engrossing game of its kind. It was linear and also very low on interactivity. I could barely click to read letters along the way. That was pretty much it. It did have a few jump scares and a good ambient background sound, but if you follow my blog, you know it’s almost wasted on me. I didn’t get spooked even once. In fact, I sometimes wonder why I keep playing these types of games at all.

CAYNE

Read more “CAYNE”

Developer: The Brotherhood | Released: 2017 | Genre: Adventure, Isometric

This was a free expansion to STASIS, or a standalone DLC if you like. It took place in the same universe and had much of the same gameplay, graphics, atmosphere and mechanics. It too had static isometric screens that flipped to the next by the exits. A lot of PDA diaries, a quantum inventory, mostly on my own…

A lot of it was indeed more of the same.

This time I was in control of Hadley, a young woman pregnant in her ninth month, as she woke up in a sinister laboratory. Like in STASIS, I had to find my way around the dilapidated facility with almost no one around. This time I did meet a couple of humans on my way, but mostly I was on my own – except for a dark voice in my head. It didn’t take much pondering to figure out where that voice came from.

While the atmosphere and the story was still good and most of the puzzles were logical, I must say that I didn’t enjoy this one nearly as much as STASIS. It had a big font that looked uninspired, as if it had merely been slapped on in a hurry. A few puzzles also crossed logical boundaries that STASIS for the most part honored. Especially a blueprint puzzle by a locked door was quite the stretch.

STASIS

Read more “STASIS”

Developer: The Brotherhood | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Isometric

This game had the most excellent sinister atmosphere with a great background soundtrack to go along with it. It reminded me of both SOMA and the old In Cold Blood – both great games to be associated with.

It also felt quite oldskool, like it belonged in the same time period as that latter game. The lovingly detailed isometric screens were static and flipped to the next by the exits. A quantum inventory could be brought up from the bottom left corner, and it even had manual save games. Pointing and clicking was as simple as doing just that. Sometimes I could view a PDA, or a console with a few commands (or a puzzle).

The story took place on a dilapidated spaceship, almost abandoned, with skinned corpses to be found and bloodstains everywhere. You probably know the drill. As the flappable protagonist John, I woke up when a stasis tube broke. I was slow and prone to a cardiac arrest. After getting fixed at a medical bay close by, I could run when double-clicking the exits. John had a wife and a kid. Where were they?

Time to go searching for them.

Layers of Fear

Developer: Bloober Team | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Horror

This game was a mixed bag. It had a lot of clichés and was really too repetitive, but it was also pretty and atmospheric. It had enough of the latter to see my through to the end – about 3½ hours later.

It was a horror adventure that took place in a dark and of course haunted mansion. There were enough opening doors to mock it as being a door opening simulator, and it was also not very original. It reminded me of other horror adventures such as e.g. Outlast and even used the popular interactive gimmick of dragging the mouse to open doors and drawers.

It was quite linear and frequently used the trick of changing the rooms and hallways. There were too many jump scares and ghostly transformations, while actual puzzles were easy and far apart. This, together with the linear nature of the game with no real dying, made it feel like a haunted funfair attraction.

And it had an abundance of almost pitch black rooms.

What I did like about it was the idea of having to find six objects, each time returning to a small atelier to continue a painting with this object. The protagonist, which was a man barely visible in blurry mirrors, had a limp and walked to the rhythm of a heartbeat. After a stretch of uninspired hallways I also found a set piece in the office that suddenly turned into a vertical challenge hunting down ringing telephones.

This part even gave me vertigo – it was unexpected and made it worth persevering.

7/10

Event[0]

Read more “Event[0]”

Developer: Ocelot Society | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

That was a really cool game. Sure, it was pretty short – I completed it in about 2½ hours – but it was also very atmospheric and often fascinating. And to think I’ve postponed playing it for the longest time because I heard rumors about having to deal with a psychopathic computer AI. It made it sound like an excruciating experience. Like masochism – or sadism – however which way you want to look at it.

But it wasn’t like that at all.

Instead it was a sweet first person adventure where I sometimes had to talk to the computer AI, Kaizen-85, using oldskool terminals, in order to make it open doors, show logs, or move an elevator for me. It could get a little stubborn a few times, but it was friendly and usually approved of my request. That being said, I did decide to roleplay a very friendly and forthcoming attitude. Lots of asking using the magic word.

What Remains of Edith Finch

Read more “What Remains of Edith Finch”

Developer: Giant Sparrow | Released: 2017 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

This is probably the best walking simulator facile adventure game I have played so far. The variation of the minigames told through the stories of the family members was out of this world, as was the detail of the abundance of small prefabs inside the house. A lot of love went into this game.

The game told the story of the Finch family, as the protagonist moves through the many rooms of a house with strange protruding expansions on top. At first it felt a lot in the vein of Gone Home, which also moves you through various rooms of a house, telling a story. But this one was superior because of the individual stories of the Finch family. It turns out all of the family members are deceased, and most of their stories explain how their death came about. It was often weird or dramatic.

The Old City: Leviathan

Developer: PostMod Softworks | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

Time for another short one that took me approximately two hours to complete. It was a thoroughbred walking simulator facile adventure where all I could do was explore by walking – or light running that was actually just faster walking – open doors, read typewritten letters mostly glued on walls, and sometimes listen to a sentence or two by… myself? A friend?

That was sometimes hard to tell, but his audible acting was excellent.

Most of the time it was borderline pretentious nonsense, but there were exceptions where he aired a philosophical opinion that was actually interesting for once. Like the stuff about depression and suicide, for example. And then it was back to “truth having to be compatible with itself” and blah blah blah.

Fortunately the surroundings were often detailed and pretty, although also infected with reusable prefabs such as conspicuously dead rats and an abundance of littered soda cans. It did start out with samey rooms, corridors, pipes and factory stuff that perhaps overstayed its welcome, but it soon meandered into surreal crypts, medieval architecture, a beach with flooded trains, a subway, and the return of an enormous Minotaur statue. And several of the total of 11 chapters ended by me leaping into nothingness.

Sometimes it felt like sort of a surreal version of INFRA.

Apart from just walking around, I sometimes found and unlocked a cube. I found a total of seven of these. I don’t think they served any other purpose than as a collection to see if I explored thoroughly. Most of the levels had multiple paths around the facility. Having to accept missing out on a hallway or two was not uncommon. Later I learned to postpone opening doors clearly marked as the exit.

7/10

NaissanceE

Read more “NaissanceE”

Developer: Limasse Five | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, First PersonSpoilers: Medium

June 19, 2021

I’ve played almost 4 hours of this exploration adventure game today and it is probably the most egregious example of a game I have a strong love/hate relationship with. It has the most epic levels with an expanse I haven’t seen probably since Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria. I’m a drooling sucker for such things, and when it also have really interesting architecture like it did here, I’m definitely in for the long run.

Unfortunately, the wonderful walks or casual jumping was sometimes spiced up with demanding jumping puzzles, some of which were downright sadistic. I don’t think I’ve been cursing and shouting like this at a game for years. Sometimes I was wondering if the developer was secretly hating its audience, especially during a tunnel sequence on a long rotating shaft.

But I get ahead of myself.

Journey

Developer: thatgamecompany | Released: 2020 | Genre: Adventure, 3D

Being a PC gamer I’m quite late to this exploration game, but now that I’ve played it, I sure understand why everybody have been so excited about it. It was pure bliss. Like playing in an interactive series of the best wallpaper art you can imagine. No words – just amazing violins and cellos.

The basic rules were as simple as the controls. I could move (sometimes glide down sand dunes) and gain a limited floating ability by touching strips of living cloth. A strip on my back worked as an energy bar for it. Sometimes I reached and chimed at an altar and watched a history emerging on a wall.

I could meet other players too. There was no exchange – they were just sort of there.

The art, the level design and the lighting was fantastic. The hot desert in the beginning had layers of sand rustling across the dunes. As I got closer to a mountain, snow took over. There were even blizzards where I sometimes had to seek cover to avoid a setback. Later I also had to sort of sneak past big rock birds. If their spotlight found me, a laser beam blasted me backwards. There was no dying in this game.

It took me less than 2 hours to reach the end. Short, but definitely worth it.

10/10