Tag - point and click

Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs Review (PC)

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I remember Amnesia: The Dark Descent coming out and playing it a bit saying to myself that it was truly an aptly-named game.  When Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs came along, my first response was one of confusion as, let’s face it, that is a pretty strange name for a survival horror game.  Without giving too much away, it is a actually very accurate name for a truly disturbing gaming experience not at all friendly for the whole family!

Description:
The year is 1899
Wealthy industrialist Oswald Mandus awakes in his bed, wracked with fever and haunted by dreams of a dark and hellish engine.  Tortured by visions of a disastrous expedition to Mexico, broken on the failing dreams of an industrial utopia, wracked with guilt and tropical disease, he wakes into a nightmare.  The house is silent, the ground beneath him shaking at the will of some infernal machine: all he knows is that his children are in grave peril, and it is up to him to save them.

Hands On:
Gameplay-wise, the controls are simple point and click action which you forget about quickly as you dive into the madness of the storyline.  I cannot recommend highly enough that you play in the dark, that you wear headphones and if at all possible, and be alone in the house/room/apartment/etc.  Take away all comforts and safety nets so that the game’s atmosphere overtakes you, listen to the whining of metal and strange footsteps, try to pick out movement in the dark screen with your lantern covered, try to figure out what you need to do next to get closer to saving your children while damning yourself further.

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It is all about the story that unfolds at your point and click actions.  As things go from a bit strange and creepy to downright sinister and stomach turning you realize this alternate take on the Industrial Revolution seems like it could have been all too possible and maybe there is no such thing as a happy ending here.

The game’s pedigree includes Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Dear Esther, two games which had already proven that Frictional Games and The Chinese Room can do creepy, yet-excellent well – but, when you get into the depth of this game’s story, it is true horror (in a good way, of course)!

Last Call:
This post is really an uber-quick review of Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs – way shorter than most of my reviews on this site. The reason for this is simply because, as a reviewer, I don’t want to give anything away.  It is a horror survival game at its purest form – not so much about puzzles and traps as it is about telling a truly disturbing story that could easily rival the plots of some great horror movies out there.  A few words written on a found scrap of paper or heard as a recovered memory can create such images that I have to not recommend this for those who are sensitive to gory descriptions.  I thought I saw this story’s twist coming but was so wrong and yet, in a horrific way, right.  For those with the will and stomach for it, Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs is the perfect way to get ready for the Halloween season!

Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
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Leisure Suit Larry in The Land of The Lounge Lizards Reloaded Review (PC)

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A bunch of us were crowded around a little computer monitor, one of the only computers in our dorms and we planned for a long night… with Larry.  We all knew about the almost 40 year old virgin and his quest to fix that last bit.  We all knew that you never truly got to see anything, it was a big tease.  Still, we all knew it was great tongue-in-cheek fun and crowded in with a stack of his adventures – the first of which being Leisure Suit Larry in The Land of The Lounge Lizards which is a great place to start as we reload our time with him. The folks at Replay Games have remastered this classic PC game and “reloaded it” for new gamers as well as those that experience it  back in the late 1980s.

Official Description:

Leisure Suit Larry is one of the most iconic characters in the history of computer gaming.

The first game in the series, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, was first published in 1987 and helped build the Sierra On-Line dynasty. Featured in a score of original software titles since then (not even counting numerous anthologies, repackagings, and cameo appearances), the series’ namesake hero, Larry Laffer, is a bumbling, persistent everyman who just wants to be loved. Is that so wrong?

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With the help of Al Lowe, Larry’s progenitor and designer of all of Larry’s classic adventures, Replay Games is remaking the landmark first game for an entire new generation (or two!). Expanded and enhanced in every detail and ready for both mobile devices and PCs, Larry is being reborn for the players who might’ve seen their parents (or grandparents!) playing Larry behind closed doors!

Although the games were marketed as “naughty,” Al Lowe’s Larry was comedic but never explicit, and the remake retains that standard. There’s no full-frontal nudity, no four-letter words, and no on-screen sex. But we do have our comedic priorities: Larry is a story of a man on the make, and the game drips with innuendo, flirts with perversity, and oozes sexuality from every pixelated pore.

• Expanded puzzles, locations, and gameplay
• Gorgeous, all-new high-res 16:9 backgrounds
• Over 3,000 frames of hand-drawn animation!
• Sophisticated lighting and spot animations enliven every location
• Thousands of humorous responses allow Players to enjoy exploring everything onscreen
• Hilarious branching dialogues with the main characters
• All-new Vegas-style musical score
• Fully voiced by the actors who originated the roles
• Redesigned by Al Lowe and Josh Mandel

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Hands On:

At its core, Leisure Suit Larry is a point and click adventure. However, given the subject matter of the game and how it is presented to the player, the game becomes such a departure from that genre that it is easy to forget the simplicity of its gameplay.  The choices you make can lead anywhere from the bedroom with a buxom beauty to a mad scientist’s laboratory to even becomng a re-animated corpse.  There are puzzles to solve like where to get batteries for a remote control to distract a pimp so you can meet a working girl but, it is mostly point and click: Combine objects, solve puzzles, etc.  This game is really about the nostalgia of getting back in the polyester party and trying to figure out how to turn cold as ice ladies into putty in your inexperienced hands.

The graphics are nicely cleaned up from the old days as part of the “reload” as is a complete upgrade of the sound and music.  Basically, you get all the charm of the old game in a nice, clean, new package.  Since the game already had tons and tons of charm to begin with, that actually goes a long ways.

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Last Call:

My review of Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded is, as you can read, short and sweet. However, that’s because playing it is such a no-brainer.  It is still loads of fun to play and, if you have never played it before, then you really should – not just for the history lesson which it is, but because Leisure Suit Larry in The Land of The Lounge Lizards gave us a gaming icon and franchise that every gamer should experience. The original came out 26 years ago! It is so nice to see it all shiny and new again.

Leisure Suit Larry in The Land of The Lounge Lizards Reloaded Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
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The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles – Review (PC)

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King Art Games has brought us the prequel to last years point and click adventure game, The Book of Unwritten Tales, aptly named The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles.  This prequel focuses primarily on how Nate and the Critter meet up and begin adventuring together.  Significantly shorter then the original game, The Critter Chronicles still packs in a lot of humor and solid point and click adventure game play that will make fans of the original game glad they came back for seconds.  Having reviewed over thirteen point and click adventure games within the last two years, I am getting a feeling for what makes these games good, great or just plain awful.  The Critter Chronicles fits solidly into the great category for this genre, and actually makes me want to hunt down a copy of the original game to check out.

Story:

The Critter Chronicles picks up right in the middle of a chase scene as Nate is embarking on his new life of adventure, with a floating airship that he won in a poker game.  Of course, the last owner is a little less then reluctant to let Nate get away without a fight, and has hired an Orc mercenary to hunt him down.  The result of this chase is that Nate crash lands on a floating iceberg and is captured by a yeti.  On this same iceberg, is a group of space faring aliens that are stranded on this planet, trying to make repairs.  These repairs keep going wrong thanks to the ineptitude of our Critter, that isn’t all that bright.  Critter is told to go away and leave the others to complete the repairs to their ship, and in his wanderings, meets Nate and saves him from the Yeti.  So begins Nate and Critter’s adventures that leads up to The Book of Unwritten Tales.

The world that The Critter Chronicles inhabits is a very interesting world, filled with great characters and environments.  The Critter Chronicles takes place in a fantasy land of orcs, elves, steampunk technology, and magic.  This world allowed the writers to blend in space aliens with a wizard and make it all work out in the end.  The character Nate, who is the main focus of the first chapter, is a perfect introduction for the player to understand the world that the game takes place in.  Nate believes himself to be an adventurer, but isn’t very good at it.  He had to cheat to win the airship he pilots in the beginning, and loves to narrate his own life as it happens.  The Critter, who is the focus in chapter two, is a little less interesting for me, mainly because he has to emote most of his thoughts and behaviors due to not speaking English.  This works well enough, but worked so much better in games like Magicka.

Point and click adventure games live and die by the story and the worlds that the writers create, and The Critter Chronicles does a fantastic job in getting the player into the game.  The story has a great sense of humor to it and the plot, while short, has a nice pacing.  One never gets bored because of the story line.

Game Play:

The Critter Chronicles plays exactly like a traditional point and click adventure game, nothing new or different here I’m afraid.  You move the individual you are playing as, and inspect your environments to discover clues and objects that you can use to move past the puzzle that is blocking your story from progressing.  The Critter Chronicles has two difficulty settings, Normal and Hard, with the main difference between the two is the amount of puzzles one must solve.  The puzzles in The Critter Chronicles do a good job in being hard enough to make you think without being too hard so that you want to toss your PC out of the nearest window.  Some puzzles do need to be interacted with in order to solve them, not just finding how the pieces fit together.  The lock picking puzzle in chapter one requires the player to wiggle a paper clip into a lock and to set all the tumblers so the lock will open.  Puzzles like this are a nice change of pace, but only occur every so often in Normal.

The player has an inventory at the bottom of the screen, that only appears when you drag your mouse to that area.  Items can be used on the environment, or might need to be combined first with other items.  The game will tell you by the user interface whether or not a certain item can be interacted with, and will even give you hints if you drag an item from your inventory over the screen.  This will help those of us that are not puzzle gurus from getting too stuck for too long.

The game play for The Critter Chronicles is neither broken nor innovative.  It does the job needed by the developers to tell the story and does it without getting in the way of the story.  Since point and click adventures games are mostly about the story and character development anyway, then this game play works out just fine for The Critter Chronicles and does the job admirably.

Aesthetics:

The visuals and art design of The Critter Chronicles works very well with the story.  While the technical specs of The Critter Chronicles won’t push your PC to it’s limits, the art design is fantastic and interesting to look at.  The environments are brightly colored, even when you land on the iceberg, and filled with items and people to interact with that gives the world a much more real feeling.  Everything from a figurehead that is sentient in the captain’s cabin to a woman who is obsessed with saving the penguins from humanity, there are interesting conversations to be had everywhere.

The sound also works well for the game, but I ran into several sound glitches that, though were not game breakers, were extremely annoying.  Sounds like the engine’s whine, would play louder and continue into the next scene, where the engine isn’t supposed to be heard.  A simple shut down and restart solved this problem, but it occurred three times throughout my play through of chapter one.  Other then that, the voice overs for The Critter Chronicles were fantastic and really helped to flesh out the characters in the world at large.  The only one I found not on par with the rest, was the voice over for the Critter, but it’s easily overlooked.

Final Thoughts:

The Critter Chronicles is a short prequel to last year’s The Book of Unwritten Tales, and easily fits in one of the best point and click adventure games I’ve played within the last two years which is considerable.  The Critter Chronicles puts together a nice blend of great storytelling, interesting characters, vivid environments, and solid game play that will make fans of these types of games smile and have a good time.  The Critter Chronicles isn’t perfect, it is shorter then the original game and does have some sound bugs, but is close enough that I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a point and click adventure game with a great story line.  The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles is available now from King Art Games.

Cognition Brings Grit To Point And Click

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Twain Harte, CA – July 31, 2012 – Phoenix Online Studios, a rising new indie developer, is thrilled to announce that its chilling adventure title Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller will be coming soon to digital download platforms with the help of Reverb Publishing. Cognition joins the smash-hit Dungeon Defenders, as well as dozens more, in Reverb Publishing’s growing list of independently-developed video games that fit with Reverb’s model of fostering talent and helping small teams and their projects succeed.

 

“Cognition is a smart, narrative-driven game that both fits in nicely and yet stands apart in our library of published titles,” said Ted Lange, executive producer of Reverb Publishing. “The art is truly outstanding and evocative of the game’s gritty atmosphere. It’s very exciting to see old-school point-and-click games like this come back in full force, and Cognition is a stellar example to set.”

Cognition is a thought-provoking mystery following Erica Reed, a Boston-based FBI agent, haunted by the unsolved case of a serial killer who took her brother’s life. Taking a turn for the strange, Erica investigates with the ability of post-cognition, sensing an object’s past with a mere touch. What unravels is a much greater, much more complex and enigmatic mystery, as it becomes clear that someone knows her secret.

Cognition joins Reverb Publishing’s growing roster of titles, which includes the massively-successful Dungeon Defenders, the recently-released Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad and JAM Live Music Arcade, as well as the upcoming Sanctum 2, Primal Carnage, Beatbuddy, Black Knight Sword and much more. For more information on Reverb Publishing and its line-up of titles, please visit us at www.reverbpublishing.com. For more information about Phoenix Online Studios and Cognition, please visit http://www.postudios.com/company/ and http://www.postudios.com/cognition/.

The Book of Unwritten Tales Review (PC/Steam)

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Two things that need to be stated off the top, The Book of Unwritten Tales is a bit silly and it is fun for the whole family.  That being said the reason it is fun for the whole family is some of the jokes are visually silly bringing the giggles of the children into play or they are pop culture references that will go right over a kid’s head and smack the adult right in the face.  Usually in my reviews you have to wait until the end for final judgement but in this case I wanted to make sure parents knew to pick this up for family friendly fun.

Story Time Kids!:

A goblin professor of archeology discovers an ancient artifact that contains great powers, powers that the bad guys want to harness for their own needs.  After his whip is used for a brief escape the story really begins as he enlists the aid of a sexy female elf and a hobbit looking gnome with a magic ring to take two separate adventures for the common goal of getting the artifact into the hands of the good guys.  Between those sentences you should get some of the first pop culture references that keep on going through the whole story.  The story is well thought out and very original which seems kinda funny when just about every idea is borrowed from something else.  The key is the interweaving of references to tell a good coherent story.  That’s why it works so well, the character’s may be talking about a game called WOB and subscription rates but on the screen you are seeing a server monkey (literally a monkey) throwing a silly fit.  This quite honestly is one of the best told point and click puzzle game stories ever.

Graphics And Audio:

The graphics are really nice and the sound is crisp and clean which works well since the voice acting is excellent and draws you in, never seeming mismatched.  The gnome is particularly well acted which is good since he has so many lines and so many of the pop references.  The key to great graphics is for them to occasionally make the player stop and admire them which happens and the key to great sound is to not draw much attention to itself which works perfect here.  The only slight drawback to these is that there are lots of loads but they are so quick that there is no load screens, just some turning cogs and the next part is ready to go!

Gameplay:

Control wise there is really only so much to be said about a point and click puzzle game since the controls are all point and click.  The real question of gameplay in these games comes in about how difficult the puzzles are.  A good puzzle game will be able to be solved by it’s target audience but be difficult enough to make the player think, by their nature puzzles are supposed to stimulate the brain.  This game does a good job of balancing the two while still having fun with references and silly humor.  Many of these games have a hint function in the heads up display but this one doesn’t, which could be one of the frustrating parts of the game for some folks, getting stuck on a puzzle then realizing they had what they needed in their inventory the whole time, that they simply needed to go through a transition for the storyline to continue or that they needed to change characters to solve a puzzle.  These issues really make family play a high recommendation because the more minds working on a puzzle the easier it generally is to solve.  At a certain point in the game it requires character changes to solve puzzles so that is definitely something to keep in mind.

Last Call:

The Book of Unwritten Tales uses very creative storylines and pop culture references to elevate the game to one I would recommend to the family just so that all the jokes can be gotten.  It also helps to have adventure movie geeks playing because just a few of the references without giving away the story are to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, WoW, The Three Musketeers, Magic the Gathering and believe it or not that really is just naming a few.  The game even takes jabs at itself, making fun of the point and click genre and the family fun nature of it.  I recommend this game not to just fans of the genre but to fans of pop culture in general.  This is a point and click adventure game that is smarter than the sum of its puzzles.

Gameplay Trailer:

Gallery:

Resonance Review (PC/GOG.COM)

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I recently reviewed Tiny And Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers which was a great game with a polished and modern stylized look.  Resonance on the other hand I appreciate for its rough, old school look that warms my gamer’s heart.  It reminds me of the days of Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest and Alone In The Dark, back when Sierra was creating its point and click legacies.  Well I am obviously not the only one who remembers it because xii games and Wadjet Eye Games teamed up to bring this game for gamers by gamers to life in all its old school glory with a new school twist.

Storyline:

The game starts off letting you know that bad things have happened around the world, some great attack that is being covered by the world’s news feeds.  You can’t tell quite what and right before you get a chance to even guess the game takes you back in time where you get to choose from four clocks on the screen, each one representing a moment in the four main characters’ lives.  With this you begin to piece together and influence the events leading up to the disaster and cause all the characters who were otherwise strangers to cross paths over a research project called Resonance.

Graphics And Sound:

These are all designed to give you the feeling of playing the game back in the old days and the game never breaks the illusion of being a two decade old point and click game.  It doesn’t fill a wide screen, the graphics can only look so clean and the audio is far from state of the art.  All this comes together to create nostalgia for those who gamed in those days and a sense of discovering the old days for those experiencing it for the first time.  Heck this seems to be reason enough to pick up the game, then when you add a complex timeline and engaging story this is a definite pick.

Gameplay:

This retro feel continues heavily into the gameplay which, for the most part, is a standard old school point and click where you move your arrow around the screen until you find something you can click on and you do and see what happens.  You do the same thing with your inventory items, sometimes separating an item, some times dragging them together.  Anyone who has played a point and click adventure will find this all the same as it was two decades ago.  The twist in the game is the use of long term and short term memory.  During conversation or examining things subjects will automatically pop into long term memory to the character you are playing.  This can be dragged down to the conversation bar or interact with the short term memory items which consists of items in you inventory you think might be important and you drag into the short term memory.

So maybe you pick up a coin next to another character.  That character sees it and it triggers a long term memory.  You can drag that down to the conversation bar and discuss it or you can drag it to short term memory and see if it helps triggering more long term memories.  It sounds complicated but really is based pretty much on the same principle of items in your inventory interacting or being dragged down to interact with your environment.  The items just have more locations to interact with and you have two more “inventories.”  It is obvious though they wanted us to remember the old days they also wanted to improve on a system that hasn’t changed much over the years.  It would not surprise me if this wound up becoming the new standard for these type of games if enough people take notice of it, the curse and blessing of an indie game is how easy it is for the mainstream to overlook it.

Last Call:

It is hard to talk about the game much without giving away plot.  It mostly plays and looks like an old school game with the exception of new innovations in the “inventories” and the fact that you can create your own timeline to a certain degree.  If you like the old school point and click play or you are curious about the new additions to it this game is an absolute steal at $8.99.

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Yesterday – A Review (PC)

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I was fortunate enough to get to play the preview for Yesterday and in a very short section of the game I learned it was one of the most twisted point and click games I have ever seen.  The characters were disturbed at best, the items you point and clicked together were unusual and it didn’t take long to realize that the subject of who was the “good guys” was blurry at best.  And the preview left off at a total “wtf?” moment that had me playing through a few more times to make sure I saw what I thought I saw.  So when my esteemed Editor In Chief asked if I might want to play the game itself I jumped at it and had it downloading before the email could go through.

The game is a point and click, picking up items from your environment, combining them or using them on each other, then trying to figure out what to do with them next.  There are also dialogue choices for the storyline to click on with different responses for each.  Figuring out what to click on can sometimes be the hardest part because some objects you click on multiple times to interact with them in different ways.  And sometimes items are just red herrings, you can pick them up but they wind up serving no purpose other than to fill your inventory.  Point and click games can vary from obvious choices aimed at a younger audience to real puzzlers that have you scratching your head for quite a while before the cartoon light bulb appears over your head.  This one is harder and for good reason, this games puzzles and most definitely it’s themes are aimed at an older audience and your actions as well as the storyline can be downright disturbing.

The story revolves around a few main characters and even divulging who they are would give too much of it away.  But you find out in the beginning 30 seconds of the game that homeless people are being burned alive and the first character you are going to play is a volunteer for a reach out program trying to get the homeless off the streets so they aren’t murdered.  All normalcy is lost around this point as a story of lunacy, Satan worship and post traumatic stress disorder all work together to create a very messed up story.  Though certain elements can be said to have been seen in this movie or this other game there is some very original story telling going on with excellent twists.  For every plot development you guess another will hit you out of the blue and some are sheer stunners.  I locked myself in a room with no interruptions and played the game on a marathon run in the same night, not because of deadlines or distractions but because I wanted to make sure I was getting the full experience because it became obvious early on that things weren’t as they seemed and plot twists might hang on the simplest of statements.  I think I could have enjoyed this as well if I had watched somebody else play it or even if it had been turned into a movie or a mini series because the story is just that strong.

One last thing that needs to be noted and might slip past the casual observer is the very nicely stylistic artwork used in the graphics.  The game seems to purposely stay away from straight lines, even in the sides of buildings or door jams as if not only are all the characters in the game slightly off or plain twisted so is everything in the very world they inhabit.  The voice acting is great, music is good but next to the storyline it is the twists in graphic style that I think is most notable.

Last Call:

It is hard to write a review about a mystery game where the twists start right at the beginning and keep up until the end leaving very little to talk about that isn’t a spoiler.  This is a great story, an excellent game and a challenging point and click puzzler where you really need to pay attention if you want to get through the game without using the hints.  The answers are there but you have to be to to get them.  When it came to Yesterday I started for the game but marathon played for the storyline.

Yesterday Preview (PC)

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Yesterday recently came on our radar so it was time to give it a look and see how the company that brought us the Runaway series and The Next Big Thing did when they took on a thriller.  Pendulo Studios maintain their excellence in 2D animation with this work though the mood from the opening animation is one of creepiness and occult.  After the first animation it plays like a standard puzzle game, introducing the quirks of a couple of likable characters who it is soon revealed have some very unlikable quirks.  In New York City, beggars are disappearing one after another later to be found burnt alive.  Meanwhile, a Y-shaped scar forms in the palm of the hands of seemingly unrelated people.  The police and the media give little attention to these deaths so Henry White, a young and rich heir dedicated to a charitable organization, and his friend Cooper are the first to investigate these disappearances.  The preview is fairly short but tantalizing, giving us a chance to see that the gameplay is very much like that of the Runaway series but the subject matter might be a bit strong for the squeamish, even when rendered in amazing 2D.  Here are some screenshots to get an idea of what to expect but you will have to wait until March to get your hands on the game!

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