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.
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.
A full-motion video flash game released as a companion to the BBC show “Rome,” CDX is an episodic thriller that follows a prop man working on the show getting embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy. There are multiple paths and hundreds of videos, not to mention an historical education waiting the player.
Developer: Sierra Publisher: Sierra Year: 1991 Platform: DOS, Mac, Amiga
Part of the wave of Sierra early 90’s remakes of the first games in all their popular series, Space Quest fared little better than the rest. Though receiving an “upgrade” in interface, sound, and graphics, I found this to be much less charming and enjoyable than the game it was supposed to be improving.
Developer: Kevin Bales Publisher: Shareware Year: 1984 Platform: DOS
One of the first graphical adventures I played, Castle Adventure was literally written by a 14 year-old in his mother’s basement using nothing but BASIC for the game and ASCII characters for the graphics. Given the tools used and the year it was made, it was quite an impressive achievement.
Developer: Infamous Adventures Publisher: Infamous Adventures Year: 2006 Platform: Windows
AGDInteractive wasn’t the only group working on a remake of King’s Quest III. Four years earlier, Infamous Adventures took a stab at it. While it doesn’t have the production values of the former (or would that be the latter?), it’s a faithful adaptation of the original game and sure to please those who liked the original just fine.
Developer: Big Finish Publisher: Big Finish Year: 2010 Platform: Windows
The follow-up to 3 Cards to Midnight, Dead Time improves things a bit by making the game simpler for non-native English speakers. Rather than creating compound words to find hidden objects on each screen, the goal is to know just find everything related to a category.
Developer: Big Finish Publisher: Big Finish Year: 2009 Platform: Windows
Chris Jones, the creator of the Tex Murphy series, dipped his toe into the casual hidden-object genre. And while for the most part I’m underwhelmed by this type of game, he did a nice job of injecting it with some style and challenge. Rather than simply find a list of objects on the screen, the conceit entails finding a list of words that relate to another word. To wit, if the keyword is “Card” you will want to look for objects such as a shark (for “card shark”) or a key (for “key card”). Think of it as an extra step in your hidden object dalliances.
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.