Category Archives: PC Games

Keyword: A Spider’s Thread

Publisher: City From Naught
Developer: City From Naught
Year: 2021
Platform: Windows

Rating: 5

I worked in a video store in the late ’90s and my manager was the only person who could get rid of customer late fees. One day a verbally abusive regular came into the store and I knew she had a late fee so high the computer system wouldn’t let her rent unless she paid it off. I was not in the mood for that confrontation, so in a panic I tried to wildly guess my manager’s 4-digit password. I nailed it on the second try. Bye bye late fees!

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Letters — a written adventure

Publisher: 5am Games
Developer: 5am Games
Year: 2022
Platform: Windows, Mac, Switch

Rating: 7

Toying with lexicon has been an adventure game staple since the beginning, though it’s largely become a niche since the VGA era. Modern games that attempt to merge graphics and text gameplay have a daunting task of providing both a coherent story and an element of exploration while also engaging the brain with enough challenge. 5am Games, an all-women team from Switzerland, took on this challenge with their first game, Letters – a written adventure, and have largely succeeded. While the novelty of its unique gameplay mechanic wears off over time, the game’s charming aesthetic, word-driven approach and endearing young protagonist make for an earnest and delightfully unusual adventure.

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Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Developer: Technocrat Games
Year: 2015
Platform: Windows, iOS

Rating: 8

I’ve always been cautious to play games that take place in cyberspace after my brutal first experience with Ripper. While it’s still generally not my cup of tea, I am happy to report that Technobabylon won me over despite (and in sometimes because of) it’s tech immersion.

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Quest For Glory I: So You Want To Be A Hero

Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Sierra
Year: 1992
Platform: DOS, Mac

Rating: 5

Mostly a beat-by-beat remake of the original game Hero’s Quest (changed due to copyright infringement), Quest For Glory I updated the graphics and sound to match Sierra’s SCI engine at the time. While it’s easier to play, it also lost some of the charm in the conversion.

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Conquests Of Camelot: The Search For The Grail

Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Sierra
Year: 1990
Platform: Windows, DOS, Amiga, Atari ST

Rating: 3

A well-researched labor of love by Christy Marx, Conquests of Camelot takes a fantasy world a lot more seriously than does King’s Quest. While in many ways a nice break from the usual Sierra adventure fare, it unfortunately bit off more than it could chew and is a mess on many levels.

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King’s Quest IV: The Perils Of Rosella Retold

Publisher: Freeware
Developer: DrSlash
Year: 2021
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac

Rating: 8

Fan-made remakes of games tend to focus on aesthetic improvements such as updated graphics and sound. DrSlash decided that King’s Quest IV was gorgeous just the way it was (and they would be correct) and left all that alone. Instead this version tries to modernize the game play to appeal to younger gamers. The experiment is mostly successful.

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She Sees Red

Publisher: RhinoTales
Developer: RhinoTales
Year: 2019
Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Switch, Xbox One,

Rating: 5

After the opening title card in Rhinotales’ FMV thriller She Sees Red, you are boldly told that EVERY CHOICE MATTERS.  I could have done without the fourth-wall breaking advice, especially since this declaration turns out not to be true. A pure example of an interactive movie, the game offers no puzzles or even any real player agency; nevertheless, it’s slickly filmed and a fun if sometimes confusing ride.

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Publisher: Legend
Developer: Legend
Year: 1992
Platform: DOS, Windows

Rating: 7

Science fiction is at its best when it is used as a tool to explore the human condition. Science fiction games have an extra hurdle of not alienating players by making the sci-fi overly complex; to do so can disengage the player from the story. Frederick Pohl’s Gateway mostly succeeds at both before faltering in the final act.

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Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers – 20th Anniversary Edition

Publisher: Pinkerton Road Studio
Developer: Phoenix Online Studios, Pinkerton Road Studio
Year: 2014
Platform: Windows, Mac, iPad, Android

Rating: 7

Many classic 90’s adventures have received a remake in the past decade, though Sins of the Fathers probably received the largest overhaul, not just to the graphics and sounds, but also to the interface, story, and puzzles. Because the story and main beats are mostly unchanged, this remains a strong adventure. But Jane Jensen and Co. swung and missed on most of the changes.

When I reviewed the original, I bemoaned the slow pace, extensive backtracking, and endless pixel-hunting. Thankfully, these issues were all improved. Gabriel moves much faster here. Puzzles are a bit more streamlined, requiring less travel. Objects are generally easier to find (including the ability to hit the space bar to highlight all clickable areas). There’s an optional, gradual in-game hint system. And they slashed the amount of icons necessary to interact with the world. In other words, they made the game more modern, more playable. Unfortunately, in making these changes a lot of soul was sucked from the experience.

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