Publisher: Sierra Developer: Sierra Year: 1990 Platform: Windows, DOS, Amiga, Atari ST
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.
Publisher: Freeware Developer: DrSlash Year: 2021 Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac
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.
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.
Publisher: Legend Developer: Legend Year: 1992 Platform: DOS, Windows
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.
Publisher: Pinkerton Road Studio Developer: Phoenix Online Studios, Pinkerton Road Studio Year: 2014 Platform: Windows, Mac, iPad, Android
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.
Lifeless Planet sold itself as a mostly stress-free platformer that focuses on story. While that turned out to be mostly true, there was not enough platforming and not enough story. Braid this is not.
The game’s beginning is intriguing and has the same sense of awe I had when I started Journey. Sadly, less than an hour into play I found myself become increasingly bored and underwhelmed. The premise is that you’ve crash landed on a planet believed to be full of life. However, you quickly determine that all life is gone (including your crewmates) and find evidence that Soviet era Russians had been colonizing this planet for years, though there’s no evidence they’re still around either.
The story does develop over the five to nine hours it will take the average person to play, but it is so freaking slow. So much time is just spent walking over vast expanses of land and the platforming that exists is generally repetitive, occasionally awkward (those geysers made me want to scream), and with very little in the way of challenging puzzles. This would be fine if the story plugged along at a nice pace, but sometimes you can go an hour without learning anything of note. Some people were moved by the story that is there. I was not.
The most frustrating part for me were the few levels that were dark. I even selected the in-game option of brightening the screen and it was still so hard to navigate some areas without straining my eyes. Darkness has its place in games to add to the atmosphere, but here it was just mostly annoying.
I got this when it was a free download off Epic Games. It was generally a nice diversion, but I have no desire to ever pick this up again.
Has it really been almost five years since I reviewed Her Story? Sheesh, I’m getting old. Back then I said I was looking forward to Sam Barlow’s next project. I think I forgot about that as I didn’t discover Telling Lies until about 18 months after its release. Still, it was very much worth the wait.
Mild spoilers under the break. You might enjoy the game more knowing nothing about it.
Developer: Revival Publisher: Revival Year: 2007 Platform: Windows
A film-noir interactive movie with point and click adventure elements, Fate By Numbers is a free, short indie game that while entertaining, feels incomplete and unfortunately didn’t launch the company forward.