Pleurghburg: Dark Ages

Pleurghburg: Dark Ages DOS Title screen, start menu

Publisher: GASPOP Software
Developer: GASPOP Software
Year: 2001
Platform: DOS; Windows

If you’re a Sierra fan who ever wondered what it would be like to combine elements from Police Quest and Manhunter, then you’re decidedly an odd duck. But you’re also in luck, as Pleurghburg (pronunciation: fuck if I know): Dark Ages does just that, providing a tense, gory, exciting adventure.

Pleurghburg: Dark Ages Windows You apparently have a job

One of the first big games to be released with the Adventure Game Studios software, Pleurghburg (seriously, pretend it’s named something less obnoxious, like LOLCat City) won five awards at the annual AGS ceremony, including best game, best story, and best music. I can’t argue with any of that, and while more recent AGS games are better produced, few have grabbed me by the throat like this one.

You play Jake McUrk (ugh, George Lucas makes better character names), a detective who gets put on a seemingly minor case that explodes into something big and scary and puts the lives of the entire city (world, perhaps?) in jeopardy.  The pacing is done quite well. You’re allowed to get used to the game mechanics before anything really scary happens, and tense moments are doled out slowly before an end game that is epic and does justice to the material.

Pleurghburg: Dark Ages Windows Visiting your friend

I mentioned Police Quest as there’s at least the facade that you’re doing detective work by the book, or at least when you bend the rules you think twice about it. But a lot of inspiration is drawn from the Manhunter series, with brief overhead arcade sequences and brutally gory images that belie the otherwise humdrum visuals. As mentioned the music is also high quality and helps make up for the the recently opined humdrum visuals. It also makes up for some very frustrating pixel-hunting issues, including a couple spots where the pixel needing clicking doesn’t align with the pixel being clicked.

Puzzles are mostly straightforward and are included for pacing. There’s some annoying fetch quests, while integrated pretty well into the plot, unnecessarily lengthen the playing experience (including going up and down a lot of elevators). The conversation system (as you can see in the above picture) is similar to The Longest Journey in that you can just exhaust all the options in any order you like.

There are multiple endings, all of which are satisfying, though I admit replaying to get another one is a bit of a repetitive chore. But the end game is so much fun it was worth it to me to experience it again. If you can put up with the mentioned annoyances, Pleurghburg truly is worth of your time. And best of all, it’s free to download.

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