Point And Click Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Point And Click RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network In Other Waters Review: Swimming in the Deep End https://www.gameskinny.com/bxa79/in-other-waters-review-swimming-in-the-deep-end https://www.gameskinny.com/bxa79/in-other-waters-review-swimming-in-the-deep-end Tue, 31 Mar 2020 10:35:36 -0400 Mark Delaney

When a game is advertised as telling a story about aliens and artificial intelligence, you likely have a mental image of what it looks like. 

Maybe something really shooty, action-packed, and with lots of enemies to mow down. Maybe you're the last human survivor in a world overrun by extraterrestrials.

That's usually how it goes. But that's not at all what In Other Waters is.

Yes, it's heavily focused on aliens and AI, but it uses these common tropes to deliver a game the likes of which we've hardly seen. That's not always meant as a good thing, but for a particular kind of player, it's worth the dive.

In Other Waters Review: Swimming in the Deep End

These days, from games to movies to books and TV, it seems artificial intelligence is on everyone's minds as learned machines take more and more of our life out of our own hands, and that's evident once again with In Other Waters. 

The game is about you, an AI assistant, and xenobiologist Ellery Vas exploring the ocean depths of an alien planet. It was said the planet had no lifeforms on it in a future where we seem to know several others do, but that's quickly and clearly proven wrong once you start finding micro-organisms abound. Later on, all sorts of flora and fauna decorate your onboard encyclopedia.

An expansive set of tools at your disposal gives the game a feeling similar to No Code's 2019 thriller, Observation, in that it's unwaveringly committed to the act of treating you like an AI and every facet of the game constantly reminds you of that. 

Dialog options are limited to simple "yes/no" replies and every element of gameplay comes down to a user interface with which you manage a bevy of tools for your underwater expedition. Everything from plotting movement trajectories for underwater traversal and measuring the depths of your travels to scanning and cataloging sealife, the entire game is essentially a point-and-click adventure disguised as a robot.

That premise has its strengths and weaknesses.

The pacing is extremely slow. It's made to feel even slower, at least for a good while, by the atmospheric music that leaks out like a chorus of slow-motion whale songs. It's a fantastic soundscape and perfectly suited for the game, but overall, these details also mean it can require the sort of patience many simply won't find in themselves. This may be the slowest-moving game I've ever played.

It can get slower too, especially early on when you're trying to grasp the controls and the game's constantly shifting tasks. Move here, scan this object, swap to a second interface and use this tool, now swap to a third interface and catalog it, then swap yet again to place the organism with this bunch over there where it'll form a cluster to slow the ocean current and solve a puzzle.

Frankly, it can be exhausting, but it does get better.

The flipside of all those buttons and dials making you feel like a pilot in a B-grade sci-fi movie is once you get to grips with them, you start to instead feel like the AI machine you're meant to be. Swiftly and perfectly navigating through all of these menus later in the game stops being a chore and starts to come as second nature.

At times, I smirked as I caught myself on auto-pilot moving through the intricate systems doing precisely what Vas asked of me like I was programmed to do it years ago. The flow-like state it can bring you into can almost be unnerving. I nearly had to check the back of my neck for a battery compartment.

Games have always trained us to accept their control schemes as second-nature, but given the subject matter, In Other Waters joins rare company with games that turn control schemes into out-of-body experiences. 

I think that's intentional too — or maybe I just watch a lot of movies about robots  but even as the game regularly throws in new elements to slow your progress, which can frustrate with their sometimes unclear objectives, it's super satisfying when it all clicks and you're working your board like a hacker in a '90s movie. They're a testament to an unconventional game's approach to story.

In Other Waters uses its intricate systems to dwell on themes we've seen in games before, even stuff you could maybe predict by watching the trailer. Yes, it's sort of about the environment, as Vas is only scanning for resources elsewhere because we screwed up in-game Earth so badly. Yes, it's also about the nature of AI, like SOMA and others have done so well before.

I don't think that means In Other Waters can't join a growing library of stories to touch on these things, and as someone deeply invested in both of those subjects, I can recommend In Other Waters more highly to people like me as they'll get the most out of it. But no matter how much you enjoy reading about AI or concerning yourself with going green, you'll also need a planet's worth of patience to push through some roadblocks in this one.

In Other Waters Review — The Bottom Line

Pros
  • Intricate and satisfying AI role-playing
  • A timely story about some of our most pressing questions
Cons
  • Extremely slow pacing, even for people who like a slow story
  • Some progress-stopping puzzles that slow it all down even more

Though its systems are highly detailed and mastery of them gives way to tremendous satisfaction, I fear, for most players, the act of getting to its story ending won't be justified by the means of navigating a series of mostly blue and yellow menus. 

In Other Waters wants to tell a thoughtful story  and it does  but I wonder how many will feel compelled to experience it all. Even as all the subject matter feels custom-built for me and players like me, the snail's pace and some unclear puzzle sections can feel like drowning at times. But with great patience, you'll learn to swim in its waters and enjoy.

[Note: A copy of In Other Waters was provided by Fellow Traveller for the purpose of this review.]

]]>
Restored Enhanced Edition of Blade Runner Coming to Consoles, PC https://www.gameskinny.com/v0ujh/restored-enhanced-edition-of-blade-runner-coming-to-consoles-pc https://www.gameskinny.com/v0ujh/restored-enhanced-edition-of-blade-runner-coming-to-consoles-pc Thu, 12 Mar 2020 12:46:18 -0400 Ty Arthur

Another classic sci-fi game is about to return in the shape of a remaster. Nightdive Studios and Alcon Entertainment have confirmed that Blade Runner is due for a restored, Enhanced Edition release on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.

There's no confirmed release date yet for the classic cyberpunk point-and-click title. The original '90s release trailer can be seen here, and anyone in need of a nostalgic blast from the past right now instead of later can pick up Blade Runner through Good Old Games.

Westwood Studios, the masterminds behind the beloved Command & Conquer franchise, handled the game's development when it first released in 1997.

Nightdive Studios is also currently working on a System Shock remake due out later this year.

I recently got the chance to try out the horrifying pre-alpha first level, where I said, "In the end, I came away neither hyped nor overly disappointed after playing the demo. My gut feeling? If the development crew doesn't run out of money and actually releases a finished product, I expect it will be just all right."

If you're on the hunt for more old-school cyberpunk games, check out 12 of our favorite cyberpunk games to play ahead of Blade Runner Enhanced Edition.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for further details on the launch of the Blade Runner Enhanced Edition.

]]>
Truberbrook Review: A Vacation to Remember https://www.gameskinny.com/7pdjw/truberbrook-review-a-vacation-to-remember https://www.gameskinny.com/7pdjw/truberbrook-review-a-vacation-to-remember Mon, 11 Mar 2019 15:15:01 -0400 Josh Broadwell

HeadUp Games is probably best known for its work on recent hits like Dead Cells and Double Cross, along with sleeper hits such as Slime San.

Truberbrook, the studio’s most recent title, continues the developer’s tradition of variety in output. It’s a point-and-click style adventure game set in 1960s Cold War Germany, in the eponymous village of Truberbrook.

The premise is this: Hans Tannhauser, a quantum physicist from Washington state, wins a trip to the village of Truberbrook in a lottery he didn’t even know about. After arriving in the village and setting his room up for the night, he’s startled to find someone rummaging through his suitcase and discovers the thief pilfered some physics papers.

Since it’s a point-and-click game, you guide Hans around the village and some surprising surroundings to uncover the truth behind the theft, some odd disappearances, and Hans himself.

Truberbrook suffers from a few setbacks in the tech department and one or two slightly "off" design choices, but it’s an engaging and charming adventure on the whole, one that’s easy to recommend.

It's Got the Looks

The first thing that stands out about the game is its visuals. Truberbrook absolutely oozes atmosphere. The village itself is a quaint, scenic hamlet nestled between scenic mountains that don’t look ominous at all and a lake that’s probably never seen anything terrible happen in it.

From the moment Hans steps off the bus, the game world immediately immerses the player in its gorgeous, handcrafted aesthetic, realistic lighting, and use of natural background sounds.

It’s difficult to imagine how much work HeadUp put into building every scene by hand, but their efforts most definitely pay off.

Hans visits a number of locations in the immediate area, all of which have their own atmosphere and leave a lasting impression on players.

By following the story, players eventually venture around the region in the late evening for one particular event, and the change in both Truberbrook itself and the surrounding area adds a tangible element of tension and creepiness at just the right moment, aided in no small part by the use of natural evening light.

Plenty of Personality

Truberbrook and the surrounding locales are populated by the sort of eccentric personalities you’d expect from a game in this genre, but they stand out immediately.

Part of their charm comes from their design, which wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton film, especially Trude, the Guesthouse owner, along with another important character Hans encounters after the first main puzzle.

The characters were added into the built scenes via CGI, which gives the entire game a look and feel very much like something between an old Claymation film and those sci-fi TV shows from the ‘60s where the action played out with puppets in front of hand-built sets.

The other part comes from the writing and voice acting.

Each character has a unique personality that shines through within the first couple of lines you hear, and it goes a long way in making Truberbrook both feel like a real village with a history and like a place that’s completely foreign to Hans (which is good, because, well, it is completely foreign to him).

A Tale to Tell

Naturally, story is another thing a point-and-click has to nail. Truberbrook does that too, though not much can be said in detail without venturing into spoiler territory. It hits the right notes for sci-fi and mystery without tipping the balance too much in either way.

The mysteries are enigmatic enough to keep you wanting to find out what happens next. There is some more obvious foreshadowing and some obscure things here and there you know are significant, but can’t put your finger on why.

All in all, though, the player is rather like Hans — completing tasks and trying to move forward, all without a clue about where the various threads will meet and what will happen when they do.

The sci-fi elements are what you’d expect from a sci-fi narrative, all without venturing into hammy territory, and the story’s period setting is one aspect that helps keep it balanced.

As with any well-told story, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you engaged along the way as well. The story's overall length is similar to other games in the genre and should take between five and eight hours total, depending on how quickly you move through things.

Kickstarter backers get an extra prologue scene to play through as well, starring a character Hans meets later on. Although the scene doesn't add too much to the narrative, it serves as a fun introduction to the game’s broader tone, mechanics, and world.

Truberbrook’s pacing is brisk, and the story’s natural peaks and troughs do an excellent job segmenting everything. Still, the developers decided to break things up into chapters, with some chapters having random sub-headings pop up for major events.

It’s a bit jarring, especially since the story does a good job of that on its own, and it actually makes the game seem shorter than it is. That, and the fact that the fourth chapter is the longest of the bunch, harms the game’s organic pacing and seems completely unnecessary because of it.

Getting from A to B

You likely already know what to expect from Truberbrook's basic gameplay if you're a fan of the genre. Being a point-and-click, you find areas of interest, click or select them, figure out what to do next from the context given, and determine which items from your inventory are most likely to solve whatever puzzle you’re dealing with.

Truberbrook doesn’t do anything astoundingly new to shake up the formula.

However, it doesn’t have to, because the gameplay uses it so well. There are many, many different items to interact with scattered all over the region. Not all of them are necessary to the story, but if you want to take part in the full experience, you’ll take the time to explore and read/hear Hans’ always interesting or amusing commentary on whatever he sees.

Inventory management is simple, too — so simple, in fact, that you don’t actually manage it. Hans automatically acquires a new item by interacting with it. If there’s an object or person that that item can be used with, it shows up under the gear option when you select the item to interact with.

However, some items can’t be used; only showing up as an option; thanks to some snappy dialog, though, it’s worth selecting them anyway, just to hear what Hans has to say.

Items that need to be combined in order to work show up as highlighted together, so you really never have to bother with figuring out the connections between seemingly random and useless items Hans picks up along his journey.

In other cases, you'll interact with everything you can in order to progress the story or find just the right item to solve a puzzle. If you get stuck and can’t figure out what to do next, you have the option to automatically highlight everything Hans can interact with.

It’s a highly useful mechanic because some items are easy to overlook, especially in areas where there’s a lot to interact with anyway.

Puzzles

Most of the puzzles in Truberbrook aren’t horribly difficult and involve observation and paying attention more than logic. There are a few moments where the design is slightly more obtuse than necessary, though.

For example, one puzzle in Chapter 2 uses a sequence based on context, but one thing in that sequence needs just a bit more description to give you an idea of where it fits.

Another point in the story requires you to venture to a new area outside the village. You can’t access it prior to that point, and there’s nothing indicating things have changed between beginning the game and that particular point.

Overall, though, puzzles and progression have a natural, seamless feel to them and flow at a good pace. Despite not being very difficult, there’s still a noticeable measure of satisfaction as everything falls neatly into place — when that can of tuna comes in handy or when the can opener has an unexpected (and hilarious) use.

Dialogue in Abundance

Humor is something you’ll encounter a lot in Truberbrook, and it works far more often than it doesn’t. A good bit of it is visual in nature, like when you first enter the guesthouse and try to get service at the front desk.

Hans always has a dry or witty comment to make, and some of the dialogue options are laugh-out-loud funny, particularly if you’re a fan of quirky or dry humor. The juxtaposition of the incredibly odd with the seemingly mundane, as if it’s just another part of daily life, works in that same way.

There is a wide range of dialogue options to choose from as well. As you’d expect, most of them relate to getting more information out of the people you’re talking with to help move things forward. Not all of the information is necessary, but, just like with the game's items, it provides a good amount of backstory to help flesh out the game world nicely.

Sometimes in a chapter or scene, new dialogue options become available after finding an item or speaking to someone new, so it’s worth checking back now and again or if you get stuck.

Most dialogue options have branching paths as well. HeadUp advertises the game as having multiple scenarios where persuasive dialog reigns, but during my playthrough, there was only a handful of such moments.

Some of these “there-is-a-right-answer” moments have fairly obvious answers — or, at least, answers that are clearly wrong — though some might take some guesswork. It’s fun to pick the ludicrous ones sometimes, just to see other characters' reactions, even if it does mean replaying a short segment to get back to where you need to be.

For the options that are definitely wrong, Hans doesn’t even speak the option when it’s chosen. It’s as if there’s an invisible filter silently rebuking you for your bad decision. Whether that’s intentional or a bug, it’s endearing nonetheless.

Falling Short

As enjoyable as it is, Truberbrook does have some shortcomings.

It’s a polished experience overall, but there are some glitches that need ironing out, such as the non-game-breaking but annoying lag in misty areas. 

Outside of that, the mouse cursor on PC also disappears randomly from time to time, or the game won’t register that you’re moving the mouse for a second or two. When it does register, it shows up on the other side of the screen from where it was. 

A few more noticeable problems popped up less often but stood out due to their seriousness. Hans will clip through objects from time to time, including people. One instance involved him putting his hand through a door to open it, rather than pushing on the door itself.

There is also a scene where Hans climbs up to and down from a treehouse. Going up is fine, but coming down is another matter. Rather than descending the ladder, Hans just walks off-screen, with the game transitioning to Hans back on the ground. He then proceeds to walk in a circle for a minute before the game realizes he should be coming down the tree. Hans' “climbing down a ladder” motions begin, which, since he is on the ground, means he disappears through the earth, and it repeats for the rope ladder portion.

The other egregious "walking in a circle" problem occurs near the end of the game when Hans must interact with an object. If he's not positioned carefully, Hans books it back toward the area's entrance. 

And while the writing in Truberbrook is excellent for the most part, there are some typos and grammar issues. Strangely, these become much more prominent in the last third of the game, so it’s unclear whether it was just an accident or if perhaps the end was a bit rushed. The same applies to times when the written and voiced scripts don’t match each other.

Lastly, HeadUp included a Kids Mode, which censors parts of Truberbrook, particularly where Hans smokes and encounters a sex toy. These funny moments aren't integral to the plot, although they are referenced in the game's joke dialog options. 

The main issue is "why include these instances at all, though?" We can all probably count on one hand the number of kids who would willingly choose Kids Mode. What's more, the goal was to create a family-friendly game, and the game is up for a Best Youth Game in the German Game Developers’ Awards.

Maybe the goal should have been not including those instances to begin with, if a younger audience was intended all along.

Pros
  • Fantastic handcrafted world
  • Dripping with atmosphere
  • Engaging story and characters with fun puzzles
Cons
  • Slightly uneven pacing
  • Some technical and writing issues
  • A few obtuse design choices

Overall, Truberbrook is a delightful experience. Bugs and glitches aside, it’s an engrossing game bound to capture your imagination with its fantastic visuals and atmosphere, loveably bizarre characters, and engaging plot.

It’s the first game of its kind from HeadUp, and I can honestly say I hope we see more like it in the future.

[Note: A copy of Truberbrook was provided by HeadUp Games for the purpose of this review.]

]]>
Black Mirror 2017 Review: A Remake Worth Revisiting https://www.gameskinny.com/ekm6z/black-mirror-2017-review-a-remake-worth-revisiting https://www.gameskinny.com/ekm6z/black-mirror-2017-review-a-remake-worth-revisiting Fri, 01 Dec 2017 12:44:58 -0500 QuintLyn

For fans of point and click adventure games, KING Art's Black Mirror may seem like a familiar title. You'd be right. The game is both a retelling of the original Black Mirror Trilogy and a new game in its own right. While there are similarities -- such as the death of one William Gordon, there are plenty of differences. Yes, you go to the manor known as Black Mirror House to  investigate William's death. However, while in the first game you play as his grandson Samuel, in this remake you take on the role of a much closer relative -- his son David.

In both versions, the overlaying theme is the same. Something unknown killed William Gordon and that something appears to be tied to the occult; possibly a family curse. Either way, you're there to find answers but you won't find them easily. You won't be getting much help from the house's inhabitants either.

The Good

Story and Atmosphere

When it comes to world building, KING has done a great job. Particularly when you consider the fact that an adept player will be able to make it through the game in about four hours. During that time you'll meet few characters, but the ones you do are well written and fairly well developed -- considering they don't really want to share many of their secrets with you. That doesn't stop you, however. Before even arriving at the house, you have plenty of clues to get you started. 

The atmosphere is particularly great for a horror game. Admittedly, when I first booted Black Mirror up, I had some doubts. Considering that most "horror" games over the last few  years have been filled with jump scares, I was prepared for more of the same, expected to hate time spent playing the game.  Luckily, I was wrong. There is a bit of that element, but it's so deftly handled. On the few occasions one of them did pop up, it was in a way that left you more curious about what happened rather than wanting to throw your mouse at your computer screen and run out of the room.

The Puzzles

Being a shorter game, there aren't too many puzzles to tangle with. However, the ones that are there are fantastic. You will need to engage in things like mathematical problem solving, but for the most part, they rely on logic and the ability to be extremely observant. The first puzzle I came across stumped me for a few hours. I ended up writing it all down and carrying it into the living room with me to stare at it and wait for an ah-hah moment. It was both gratifying and infuriating to realize I'd simply missed the obvious.

The really interesting thing is that somehow the developers manage to reuse puzzle ideas and build upon them in a way that still makes them challenging to solve -- even though you've "been there before." But again, it's all about being observant and not thinking you already know just because you already did that one thing that one time.

The Not So Good

Challenging Pacing 

Because of the nature of the game -- and the need to at least do some things in a certain order -- you may find yourself wandering around in circles wondering what on earth you missed. At this point, the game can seem to drag out. This is compounded by the fact that you're walking in those circles in a fairly limited space. That said, this is often the nature of point and click adventure games. Sometimes it's just a pain figuring out what in the world you're missing.

Gameplay 

Control 

Being a point and click adventure game, Black Mirror doesn't have a complex set of mechanics. It does however have a bit of a port problem.  When you first boot up the game on PC, head into the settings and look at the controls menu. You'll note that what you're shown is an Xbox control scheme. Not to worry, the controls are pretty basic: WASD to move, click to look at things, hit a few buttons for menu items such as "I" for the inventory. As new menu items are added, the game tells you what the commands are.

Movement in the game can be a bit iffy. The game's camera rotates on it's own, so you'll find you need to change the direction you're trying to move in order to continue along the same line when this happens. You'll also find it takes a little work to move around things or lining up with clickable points so that they're usable, and you'll often end up going out a door you didn't intend to. It can be a bit frustrating. But, as you get the layout of the rooms down, you'll learn how to work around it.

The effects of control issues aren't just felt in movement, however. As the game goes on, you will find yourself needing to manipulate items in your inventory. This can also be a bit frustrating as you fight to get things to line up in ways that make them usable.

The Loading Wait

The most vexing thing about this game is the loading times. Whether it's entering rooms, or inspecting items in those rooms you will be waiting. And you will be doing both of these things... a lot. When loading in and out of the rooms, you'll primarily be met with a black screen until the room loads. However, inspecting things or using your inventory will result into your character just having to stand there for a bit while the game decides it's ready to let you get going again.

Final Verdict

The above issues aside, Black Mirror is still a really solid game. If you're a fan of mysteries and puzzle solving, it's one you'll definitely want to give a go. 

As far as the value on this game, you'll have to be  the judge. Some people might find the short playtime reason enough to walk away. However, I'll personally note that I've spent a good deal more time playing than four hours. Sure, some of you will make it through in that time, but I'm going to guess most will get more than their money's worth out of it hour-wise.

Fun-wise, there's not question. The game is indeed a good bit of fun -- even if it can be frustrating.

Black Mirror is available on Steam and will generally run you $29.99 -- although at the moment there's a 10% discount available. 

Editor's Note: The game's developer provided GameSkinny with a review copy for this piece.

]]>
The Dream Machine: A Point and Click Masterpiece https://www.gameskinny.com/41ue3/the-dream-machine-a-point-and-click-masterpiece https://www.gameskinny.com/41ue3/the-dream-machine-a-point-and-click-masterpiece Fri, 19 May 2017 10:30:46 -0400 Damien Smith

It is a strange thought that developers are still finding new and curious ways of creating video games, even now in 2017. One such developer is Cockroach Inc, who has made a unique point-and-click adventure out of clay, cardboard and other such materials.

The Dream Machine is an episodic game that began development back in 2008 by a two man team. Its first two episodes released way back in 2010. It was only on May 11th, 2017 that the long-awaited final chapter of the game released.

The art design, plot and atmosphere of this game are all quite unique, while its gameplay is far more traditional of the point-and-click genre. While it is an outstanding game, there are a few issues that hinder it from receiving the top score.

A written plot that falls short at the last hurdle

In The Dream Machine, you take on the role of Victor Neff. Victor and his pregnant wife Alicia have just moved into a new apartment and are getting settled in, hoping to start a new and quieter life. That dream is cut short when they find that something is very wrong with their new residence and its owner.

Victor must seek answers to his many questions, and embarks on a journey far from anything he could have ever expected. To say anything further about the plot to The Dream Machine would only serve to ruin what the first two chapters have in store for the player.

What I can say is that to begin with, the plot seems very simple -- perhaps even a bit uninteresting. It revolves around completing daily tasks that pretty much everyone has to go through when moving house, along with learning a bit more about Victor and his wife.

It isn't until the very end of Chapter 1 that things take a dark twist and the intrigue really kicks in. From Chapter 2 onwards, the story continues to kick it up a notch and keeps the player gripped as more of is revealed to them. It is, however, the final chapter of the game where the narrative trips up and stumbles in its very final moments.

While the ending to The Dream Machine wouldn't bother someone who only played the game as of the final chapter's release (like me), those who waited years for it may be disappointed. I won't spoil it, of course, but I will say that for a game which has so much creativity and imagination put into it, the ending just isn't on the same level.

I knew the kind of ending the developer was aiming for, but I expected something a bit more unusual than what was delivered after everything I had experienced prior to that -- and it left me feeling slightly underwhelmed.

Despite its hiccup of a conclusion, though, the plot to The Dream Machine is one of intrigue, with good writing and excellent imagination that will please any fans of the genre.

 

Traditional point-and-click gameplay

Anyone who has played any modern point-and-click adventures should feel right at home when it comes to the gameplay of The Dream Machine. Throughout your adventure, you will need to talk to characters, interact with the environment, collect items, and solve puzzles.

The dialogue and interacting with the characters is one of the highlights of this title. While a lot of games in the genre can have moments that are very heavy on exposition, The Dream Machine keeps a good balance between its dialogue and gameplay. Never does it feel like exposition is being rammed down your throat, and it is never long before you are back in control and exploring the world again.

As for interacting with the environment, that is similarly well-designed -- as everything which can be interacted with is always in view. You don't have to hover your mouse over the screen looking for something that is barely visible.  

As for the puzzles, they are well-designed and fun to solve. There are a few that would be considered a point-and-click cliche, like the sheet of paper to get a key puzzle. Aside from that, though, the puzzles are all logical and can be solved with a bit of brain power and patience.

Overall The Dream Machine doesn't do anything to reinvent the gameplay of the point-and-click, adventure but it does execute the traditional gameplay of the genre perfectly.

A unique art design with amazing atmosphere

What sets The Dream Machine apart from every other video game out there is its unique art design. As mentioned in the introduction of this review, all the visuals of the game are made entirely out of clay, cardboard and other everyday items.

While a similar art design was used in the development of The Swapper from 2013, it was The Dream Machine that invented this style. It gives the game a unique atmosphere to it that no other can quite deliver. Even in moments of calm like when Victor has breakfast with his wife, there is always this sense of unease.

There is no mistaking that it redefines how the visuals of video games are made. But developing a game like this comes at a great cost. Due to everything you see being made by hand, the time it takes to make the game is excessive -- and this ultimately led to the long periods of time between each episode. So there is an advantage and a disadvantage to its design.

With that said, there is never a point in the game that it isn't visually appealing. Through the entirety of the game, I was in awe as new and incredible sights were revealed to me. If you are looking for a game that does things a bit differently from an artistic perspective, The Dream Machine is certainly going to take your interest.

A point-and-click masterpiece

I actually feel bad giving this game a 9 as opposed to a 10. It's beautifully designed, well-executed, and everything you could hope for from a point-and-click adventure. The problem is that its best feature, the innovative art style, is also a bane that created long gaps between episodes. 

The conclusion to the plot was also not as fitting as it could have been. If I had waited seven years for it just like many have, I would have been even more disappointed with it. Make no mistake -- despite its downfalls, The Dream Machine in its entirety might very well be one if not the best point and click adventure game to date.

Disclaimer: A copy of the game was provided to the writer for the purpose of this review.

]]>
SnarfQuest Tales Review: A Nostalgic Point-and-Click Adventure https://www.gameskinny.com/zwog1/snarfquest-tales-review-a-nostalgic-point-and-click-adventure https://www.gameskinny.com/zwog1/snarfquest-tales-review-a-nostalgic-point-and-click-adventure Mon, 15 May 2017 13:03:57 -0400 ESpalding

I recently got the opportunity to check out a game which is being developed by Cellbloc Studios from Atlanta, GA, called SnarfQuest Tales. This may sound familiar to some, because it is an adventure series that has been around for years in magazine and tabletop format.

Created by Larry Elmore in the 1980s, the original SnarfQuest was a feature in the D&D magazine series Dragon. It became so popular that it spawned its own series of books and, eventually, a tabletop adventure game. Cellbloc Studios has now brought Snarf and his friends to life in this fun point-and-click adventure. It is currently in Early Access on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux.

SnarfQuest Tales follows the adventures of a young male Zeetvah called Snarf. He decides to go on an adventure for fame and fortune, and the throne of his people. You start off questing alone, but along the way you are joined by other characters from the original series -- such as Aveeare, an armored wizard from space, and Telerie Windyarm, a human warrior woman. As with any good adventure game, there's also a whole host of characters to meet and interact with.

So, let's get down to talking about the game. To be honest, it is really good. The storyline is typical of a point-and-click, in that you have to find things and complete various puzzles to progress further. However, the characters you interact with all have their own comedic personalities, which makes even the dullest of quests (like finding someone their favorite food) giggle-worthy and fun to complete.

In addition to quests, you have puzzles to negotiate. I really like the addition of puzzles to the game. They tend to be ones that most people already know how to solve, even though they can get frustrating. Within the first set of quests, you have to complete a sliding block puzzle -- and boy did it infuriate me! I have a lot of patience but this kind of puzzle makes me want to throw things across the room! There are lots of other kinds of puzzles to keep you amused, so try your best to push through the bits that annoy you.

The artwork is relatively simple, given this day and age where detailed graphics are a "thing". But this certainly doesn't detract from the game -- in fact, it just adds to it. SnarfQuest has always been a cartoon so it doesn't need anything hyper-realistic or flashy. All of the characters from Elmore's original concept are in the game and have been created under his watchful eye, so nothing in the way that they look has been lost in the translation from paper to screen.

So far, the only gripe I have about the game is that sometimes the cursor wasn't very precise. It wasn't a huge issue most of the time, but it became especially prominent during a puzzle where I had to turn logs around while another zeetvah was trying to cross a lake. It was hard to get Snarf into a particular position to time his movements correctly and make sure the other character didn't get eaten by a crocodile.

Other than that, though, the game is stable and works exactly as intended.

SnarfQuest Tales is shaping up to be a really fun and entertaining game. I think it would not only appeal to those you are already familiar with the original series and D&D players, but it has the potential to interest anyone who enjoys "straight forward" point-and-click adventures. I would even go as far as saying that it would be suitable for younger teenagers upwards.

If you like the sound of the game, check out the trailer above. You can also visit the SnarfQuest Tales Steam store page to pick it up for yourself. 

 

]]>
Herald: An Interactive Period Drama -- A Brilliant Plot-Driven Title https://www.gameskinny.com/ix9ws/herald-an-interactive-period-drama-a-brilliant-plot-driven-title https://www.gameskinny.com/ix9ws/herald-an-interactive-period-drama-a-brilliant-plot-driven-title Fri, 14 Apr 2017 13:23:35 -0400 Damien Smith

The point-and-click video game was a genre I largely missed as a kid due to them slowly dying our during the mid-90s in favor of more action-oriented titles. In more recent years, the genre has seen a resurgence in the indie scene with such titles as Dropsy, Shardlight, and the recently released Thimbleweed Park. And now, another title is bringing the genre back into the spotlight -- Herald: An Interactive Period Drama.

Herald is a game that blends point and click adventure gameplay with a player-driven narrative like that found in Telltale Games' various series. Developed and published by Wispfire the game is split into a total of four books (episodes), with two currently available. The others will be released later this year.

Herald has an fluid plot where the outcome of events is decided based on the player's choice of action. With interesting, complex characters and tough decisions to be made, this game keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end and leaves you wanting more.

A voyage of betrayal, mystery and distrust

The plot of Herald takes place during an alternate 19th century where the West is united as a colonial superpower known as the Protectorate. You take on the role of Deven Rensburg, the latest recruit on board the Protectorate merchant ship the HLV Herald. 

The plot of the game moves between the past and present. In the present, Deven is a prisoner who is being interrogated and must tell the story of his adventures aboard the HLV Herald. It is here where you choose Deven's actions, which ultimately shape the story and the path it takes.

Aboard the ship is an array of complex and interesting characters, each with their own personalities that are unique to them. It is set during a time of inequality and injustice, and you must choose to whether to stand up for the downtrodden or remain silent and do as you are told.

To say anything more about the plot would be entering spoiler territory, and Herald is a game best experienced knowing as little possible about the story and choices you need to make. I can say it is a unique plot that doesn't shy away from touching on subjects that few games would ever dare to.

Taking place aboard a merchant ship on an exhausting long journey, it gives insight into the psychology of that sort of environment and how it can take its toll on members of the crew as their personalities clash. It is a gripping tale, and one that I cannot wait to see conclude once the final two chapters are released.

If you love games similar to Telltale's, you are going to really enjoy this. It keeps you glued to the screen and on the edge of your seat throughout as you await your next tough decision as the story unfolds.

A perfect blend of gameplay and narrative

While Telltale's games focus more on the narrative side of things, Herald has an amazing balance between its story and the point-and-click adventure gameplay. Throughout the game you will have to make your way around the HVL Herald, completing tasks given to you by the crew and officers.

As you explore the ship, you can examine various areas of it -- receiving additional information on antiques, tools and equipment on the ship and so on. There are a few lessons that can be learned along the way. Often you will need to find someone and speak to them or find an object that a specific character needs.

What Herald does right, however, is keeping a balance between the two, where neither one outweighs the other -- resulting in a constant flow between both styles of gameplay. This balance results in a game that will please both those looking for a narrative driven experience and a point-and-click adventure all in one.

A wonderful cast of brilliantly voice-acted characters

As with any game like this, one of the most important aspects of its development is to ensure that the voice acting is well done. Herald certainly pulls out all the stops and provides a cast of characters that are brilliantly voice-acted.

From the calm and understanding captain, to the temperamental Celeb, to the cowardly and lazy character of Robert, every single character is unique. And the voice actors played their roles exceptionally and brought them all to life. Never throughout the entire experience did I question the voice acting or feel that a voice didn't fit in with a personality.

A unique experience that is worth every cent

Herald is a game that practically anyone can sit down, play, and enjoy. With its excellent plot, wonderfully complex characters, great balance of gameplay, talented voice acting, and charming art design, there isn't much to dislike about the game. 

If you love games where players' choices affect the plot and you don't mind waiting for the next episodes, then Herald is definitely worth checking out. With the two current episodes that are available, you get three to four hours out of a playthrough for your $9.99. And it is worth every penny.

The only reason I can give for not picking this title up yet is if you prefer to experience a plot in full from start to finish, without waiting for the final episodes. Aside from that, it is an absolute must play.

Disclaimer: A copy of the game was provided to the writer for the purpose of this review.

]]>
Tokyo Dark: Exclusive Interview With Jon Williams of Cherrymochi https://www.gameskinny.com/con8r/tokyo-dark-exclusive-interview-with-jon-williams-of-cherrymochi https://www.gameskinny.com/con8r/tokyo-dark-exclusive-interview-with-jon-williams-of-cherrymochi Sat, 18 Mar 2017 21:23:13 -0400 Rob Kershaw

The Square Enix Collective has backed a number of interesting games since its inception in 2014, showcasing a thriving indie community while providing the marketing resources of a powerhouse publisher, which small studios usually only dream of.

One such title that's found its footing through the Collective is Tokyo Dark, a noir adventure game that simultaneously straddles the visual novel, RPG, and horror genres, and ties a unique aesthetic into a gripping narrative. It has a caliber of production that belies the size of the studio developing it.

Culture Shock

Recently, we spoke to Cherrymochi's creative director, Jon Williams, who has been absorbing the culture and atmosphere of Japan for some time.

"I moved out to Japan from the UK in 2009; initially I only intended to stay for a year, but life happened and I'm still here now. For the past 3 years I've been running Cherrymochi, a small game dev studio I co-founded in Kanagawa, south of Tokyo."

Williams runs the studio with his wife and eight years of cultural immersion has certainly helped imbue Tokyo Dark with its own character. As an Englishman in a new land, we asked if the culture shift has proven significant?

"There are good and bad points to every country in the world and subtle cultural differences everywhere. Japan, when the ground stays still, is a very pleasant place to live."

Williams has done plenty of research on the city, its sewers, and its overall vibe. Japan is a country that has its ups and downs -- often literally, given the frequency of earthquakes that have wreaked havoc upon the nation. Yet, inspiration often springs from dark times, and it was one particular event which led to the idea for the game.

The themes and ideas in Tokyo Dark originated during our experiences of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, particularly the blackouts that affected our area during the nuclear disaster. Tokyo without its neon, giant TV screens and lights is a very different place. Tokyo was quite literally dark. We started brainstorming ideas for an urban horror set in Tokyo besieged by earthquakes, while sat in blackouts in Tokyo, besieged by earthquakes -- well, they do say write what you know!

Darkness Falls

Urban horror is an apt description of a game that has been inspired by many facets of popular culture, including House of Leaves -- a horror novel where it is implied that the titular house actually eats people. As to whether supernatural events are more literal or metaphorical in Tokyo Dark though, we're told to "wait and see."

However, the Eurogamer Expo showing in 2016 revealed a sinister undercurrent to the game, as Detective Itō goes off in search of her missing partner and encounters him in the sewers with a maniacal woman holding a knife to his throat. 

Dark themes such as sanity, neurosis, and suicide are featured in the game, and some of the mechanics revolve around the mental health of Itō herself -- an intriguing premise, but one which, in conjunction with other aspects of the horror genre, might not be to everyone's taste. Williams isn't concerned.

The SPIN system (SANITY, PROFESSIONALISM, INVESTIGATION, NEUROSIS) takes influence from pen-and-paper role-playing games. Tokyo Dark is an anime-inspired work of noir fiction; we hope that players will find our approach to these issues satisfying.

EGX and other playthroughs have certainly helped shape the game's development. Originally, some of the toughest puzzles were designed to require actions "outside of the game" to solve. Thanks to feedback, this has since changed.

It might seem obvious, but an important lesson we learnt from playtesting is that any action that requires you to minimize the game window and head to Google quickly leads to a loss of immersion and damages the experience rather than improves it. We've focused on keeping these additional elements within the experience of the game itself.

An End In Sight

As development continues, one of the more interesting features is the New Game+ option. Unlike other games, NG+ in Tokyo Dark allows you to work your way around the different choices that influence the 10 different endings in the game (11 including the additional NG+ ending). Essentially, you will be able to see everything there is to see on your second playthrough.

Does Williams see this as a necessary compromise for an oversaturated games market, where players are simply time-limited in what they can complete?

Tokyo Dark is a passion project. It exists because it's the game we want to play. When I think of my experience playing adventure games and visual novels I love, I might play through the game twice to see some different branching and endings, but I simply don't have time to complete the same game 10 or 11 times. We think it's unreasonable to demand this from our players.

Indeed, with so many games on the market -- many with multiple endings, such as the staggering 26 in Nier: Automata -- time is often the most precious resource gamers have, especially if you consider that plenty of them clock up to dozens if not hundreds of hours. But is there a risk that Cherrymochi risks diluting the experience by revealing all of Tokyo Dark's remaining narrative secrets second time around? Williams thinks not.

NG+ makes it easier to unlock all endings during a second playthrough. I don't think this dilutes the experience but adds to it. There is a lot of content in Tokyo Dark that is impossible to see in one playthrough; by giving players easier access to this the second time around, I think many more players will experience all that Tokyo Dark has to offer.

Players will hopefully agree, and Cherrymochi has been proactive on its Kickstarter campaign in keeping backers informed. Like many titles from small studios, the release of Tokyo Dark has slipped from its original date. While backers on crowdfunding sites can often put pressure on developers to deliver products before they are ready, Williams has had the opposite experience.

Our Kickstarter backers are incredibly supportive. Throughout production, we post detailed fixed scheduled monthly updates covering both good and bad news. We try to be completely transparent about development. I think our backers appreciate our approach.

Indeed, it seems as though Cherrymochi has avoided the pitfalls that many studios stumble into -- simply by being upfront. Even veteran developers like inXile came in for criticism by withholding the fact that stretch goals had been cut. Williams takes a far more upfront approach to bad news.

As soon as we realized we could not hit our Q4 original Kickstarter release date, we let the community know as early as possible. The overwhelming response was:

      'Thanks for letting us know, no problem, take your time.'

We consider communication absolutely vital and try to make ourselves as accessible as we can with our Kickstarter updates, weekly backer forum updates every Saturday and Twitter and Facebook posts.

Collective Power

Cherrymochi has had significant help in the form of the Square Enix Collective, which has allowed Williams to focus on the game and leave the majority of the marketing to them. His enthusiasm for the indie initiative is apparent -- but are there any restrictions in dealing with them, and how much influence do they truly have on the vision for the game?

Square Enix Collective have been great. They are completely hands off when it comes to development, no restrictions, no influence or input that we haven't requested. They've offered flexibility, help, and support. The Collective are a small team within Square Enix who are passionate about indie games and have understood our approach with Tokyo Dark from day one.

It sounds like a great deal for both parties, and for a first project with such a small team, it's no doubt helped Tokyo Dark  hit the ground running. But as with any game project, there have been issues to overcome -- yet Williams is buoyant about the experience.

We've made mistakes, we've had challenging technical issues, we've spent time on features that we later removed from the game, we've had times of intense stress and pressure. In every one of those situations, we've learnt something that made us a better team and made Tokyo Dark a better game. So I wouldn't change a thing.

It's incredibly exciting to be approaching the end of this journey and launching Tokyo Dark later this year.

We're just as excited to play it, and if the vision of Jon Williams and Cherrymochi pans out the way we're hoping, there's the potential for Tokyo Dark to set a new bar for the way visual novels are designed.

Tokyo Dark will be playable at EGX Rezzed London in the Square Enix Collective area between March 30 - April 1.

]]>
Interview With Mystery of Woolley Mountain Developer James Lightfoot https://www.gameskinny.com/0fq32/interview-with-mystery-of-woolley-mountain-developer-james-lightfoot https://www.gameskinny.com/0fq32/interview-with-mystery-of-woolley-mountain-developer-james-lightfoot Tue, 20 Dec 2016 07:00:01 -0500 SarahKel

This week, we got to interview James Lightfoot, an independent developer of the upcoming crowdfunded game The Mystery of Woolley Mountain. It has already featured in GameSkinny's article about crowdfunding video games and is on our radar as one game to look out for in 2017 (spoiler alert: article coming soon).

We discussed everything from what has inspired James, to what it is like being an indie developer and also about the Kickstarter experience.

The game is set for release in October and is an exciting 2D point and click adventure game. The game is set in a surreal fantastical world, where a group of renegade audio scientists are trying to save a town of children from a malevolent witch, on the mysterious island named Woolley Mountain.

Game Skinny: What was the inspiration behind The Mystery of Woolley Mountain?

James Lightfoot: I decided about a year and a half ago that I wanted to make a game, but had never made a game before. I always loved point and click games and it occurred to me that it would be the best thing to create and as such, decided to teach myself Unity. It made sense that my first game was story and puzzle based and my favourite genre of all time.

I’m in a band called the Helmholtz Resonators and we wrote a story called The Mystery of Woolley Mountain that we did some music for and a friend did artwork for. That was a great story; it was slightly ignored by the world, so when I made my game, I thought why don’t I base it on these characters. Everything came together in a natural way, the story was already written and the characters already existed. It therefore made sense to make the game with this story, characters and music.

In terms of games that inspired me, I would say classic games like, The Secret of Monkey Island, but also 80’s cartoons, such as The Trap Door and The Phantom Tollbooth. This inspired me in terms of storytelling and the worlds you can create.

GS: What prompted the change of art style, from the original to the new style?

JL: This is probably just going to be the cover I think. The cover was designed by a friend, as I wanted a painted version. I wanted a new logo and a new cover, because if you look at the cover of The Secret of Monkey Island, it’s a very beautiful painted cover, which is different to the in-game style and gives it more of a cinematic feel, like a poster. The in-game graphics will remain, but the cover will change to the new look.

GS: How did you find your first Expo visit, at Manchester in October?

JL: It was wonderful and I was so happy and in awe of all the kinds of gamer people because the gaming community is such a welcoming community, where everyone wants to help each other out, everyone was interested in the game, recommends other games and wants to play and review your game. It was a really lovely environment.

I was so over the moon with the feedback, everyone who came to play the game would play it for ages -- to the extent where I had to tell people to ‘get off and let others have a go!’ Kids would play it and love it and it hadn’t occurred to me that young kids would love the storytelling, the puzzles and the interface of a point and click game. It was lovely to see that all ages can enjoy it.

It was a fantastic Expo. I did one in London recently, which was great, so I’ve done two now and I can’t wait to do more.

GS: Was there anyone in particular who inspired the characters?

JL: There wasn’t anyone in particular, because all the traits of the characters are not the same as the band versions. For me, it was getting some classic character traits, such as the fussy guy, the ladies’ man and you’ve got the lazy one. There is the scientist guy who is very studious, and then you’ve got the robot who is the butler.

 You could say, it is a bit like Red Dwarf in a way -- you’ve got Kryton the nice robot, Lister the lazy one and the uptight one in Rimmer. Even Star Wars, with Luke being the young, studious one, Han Solo is the carefree cavalier type and C3-PO is the automaton. This was, I guess a subconscious influence and I think characters exist over and over in different things.

GS: How did you find the whole Kickstarter process and how did it feel to be Greenlit on Steam?

JL: I found the Kickstarter process to be very tough. I didn’t realise just how much work there would be in the Kickstarter process before I started.

I did a lot of prep, making a video, doing research and making the page brilliant, but I didn’t realise how hard you have to push on social media, to get people to pledge, without repeating yourself. If you keep saying ‘please pledge’, people will just unfollow you. Every time you get a notification on your phone that someone has pledged, it is an amazing feeling and you get obsessed by it all.

You need to think of different ways to show the game, such as new videos or new imagery, all within one month. You need to keep in touch with magazines and blogs too, to mention the game. Once it builds momentum, it snowballs, as the media see it doing well and continue to mention the success.

To be Greenlit on Steam was wonderful, as it is a massive platform to get your game out to and it is an honour to be up there. It kind of came out of nowhere. You kind of have to link your Kickstarter people to Steam and it bounces back and forth.

GS: What inspired you to do indie games development?

JL: I want to be a games designer and it made sense to me that the best way to become an indie developer is to make a game. If the game’s successful, it allows me to make another game, but equally it becomes my portfolio to show large game development firms.

I’ve still got 10 months to complete the game and I may be burnt out by the experience, but I have plans and ideas for another game. But if you want to be something, you have to do the things needed in order to achieve it – go and make it so. It’s like if you want to be a footballer, you have to get a ball, go outside and practice, practice, practice.

The individuality of someone’s art is what makes it successful. If, say you’re an artist, no one cares how well you can draw; it’s what expression you’re making with the drawing and the style that you bring which is new and fresh. It’s what you create, not what it is meant to be compared to.

GS: Do you view the game as a stand-alone game, or as part of a series?

JL: I think it depends on how well it does, whether I want to look at those characters ever again. If it’s successful and people want a sequel, then the sequel would have to be a point and click adventure game. But I might kind of think of making it a 2.5D, or maybe 3D, I don’t know.

I think my initial thought is to do an entirely different genre for my next game, which is what I want, purely because I’d have been doing a point and click adventure for two years when the game is released. It would be fun to do a side scrolling shoot ‘em up game, but with those characters in, something different.

GS: How long is the game expected to last to fully complete?

JL: I find this a little difficult to answer because it depends on how good you are at point and click games. I think it is definitely going to be a good amount of time to play it. Parts 1 and 2 are very big but part 3 will be a little bit smaller, owing to its smaller environment.

It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to complete part 1 and that’s knowing exactly what to do. Even if you flew through part 1, it would still take at least 45 minutes, there’s that much to it.

I recently played Duke Grabowski, the point and click game and the artwork was done by the same person who did The Curse of Monkey Island. I enjoyed playing it but it was very short. My part 1 is bigger than that, so it is unlikely it could be completed in one sitting, unless you’re a genius.

I want this game to have one of those middle of the night Eureka moments, where you go ‘of course’, you use the thingamabob with the wotsit’.

I certainly should have priced it higher when I did my Kickstarter, it’s worth the £7.00 ($8.69), for a digital game, I should have priced it at £15.00 ($18.64) for the size of the game, I think. You look at other Kickstarters in the genre that have been successful and you think right, that’s a good pricing point, but later on, you see another successful one that’s charging twice as much which has done really well too and you just think, never mind. But it’s not about the money, it’s about making the game and getting it out there on all the platforms.

GS: How long did you spend contemplating the game before bringing it to Kickstarter?

JL: I wanted to make sure that part 1 of the game was pretty much playable before I did the Kickstarter, because I wanted to make sure that I could actually make this game. This helped in making the video, so I could show the game actually being played. And this puts backers’ minds at rest when they see it being played; that there is actually a game you can play. With most Kickstarters, the game is just an idea, a few sketches, it doesn’t exist.

I spent from October 2015 to May 2016 designing the game, then two months getting the Kickstarter ready.

GS: What have you learnt about yourself, gaming and life throughout the whole process?

JL: I’ve learnt that if you want to do something, you should do it, have a go at it and believe in yourself. For a Kickstarter, you have to research, be thorough, and want to do it, be passionate about it and put the work in. Once you’ve done a Kickstarter, that’s a promise and you have to fulfil that promise.

For me, doing a Kickstarter, a whole world has opened up, of new wonderful people in the industry, guys like yourself and doing Expos. Everyone is willing me to make this a success. I’ve learnt that the gaming community is a fantastic community.

But the main thing I’ve learnt is that it’s not easy to make a game, it is a lot of work, especially if you’re doing it yourself. But I love every minute of it, so it’s all fine. I find it very therapeutic to make my game, I can sit there, zone out and just be programming or writing a story. I am so pleased I did this project.

GS: What do you hope backers and players will take away from the game?

JL: I hope they take away a thrilling and humorous story and adventure that they are part of. And just enjoy the game and feel the passion, love and work that has gone into it, that drips off the screen when you play it.

I want people to feel that they’ve got more than their monies worth and that they want to know more about me and my next game. And that they tell other people about it, because for me, as a player and backer of other games, when you finally get that game and it’s better than you hoped you tell the world about it. If you get a game and it’s not as good as you thought, you tell the world about that too. I’d rather people say that they loved every minute and they enjoyed it and had a wonderful experience.

This game truly looks promising; with its impressive art style, funny characters, intriguing story and retro reminiscence. I am truly excited about this game and cannot wait for it to materialise.

Game Skinny wishes James Lightfoot the very best of luck with the development of the game and looks forward to learning more about it as it progresses.

If you would like to like to learn more about the game, check out the details on the official website and on Twitter @WoolleyMountain for the latest news.

]]>
Space Puzzles Await in Tales of Cosmos https://www.gameskinny.com/ev0kv/space-puzzles-await-in-tales-of-cosmos https://www.gameskinny.com/ev0kv/space-puzzles-await-in-tales-of-cosmos Thu, 15 Dec 2016 07:00:01 -0500 Janette Ceballos

The ever-spreading expanse of space sets the stage for this sci-fi adventure inspired by old-school point-and-click games. Red Dwarf Games puts a twist on the style by introducing an open world mechanic where you can fly through space from planet to planet at your own leisure.

The Story

Professor Gagayev, a monkey genius, and his canine assistant Perseus are astronauts. While traveling through an uncharted region of space, a strange anomaly causes their ship to crash on a strange planet. The two must work together to build a new ship, solve problems, and find a way to break the barrier trapping them in the zone.

Sounds

It’s a quiet game. That’s the first thing you’ll notice once you are able to play. There are a few sound effects, especially when puzzles are solved or items are being interacted with, but for a majority of the game you will be listening to the soundtrack more than anything else.

Ambient music and a hollow, low tonal drone do a wonderful job of creating an atmosphere as strange and unsettling as the worlds you visit. It all works together to set a mood that lets you know you are in a desolate prison. People are trapped here, and it feels that way.

Looks 

It’s gorgeous. The game has a charming 2D art style of hand-painted environments that remind me of an illustrated children’s book that give it a look of its own. Cute and fluid animations appear when puzzles are solved or when you are idle, especially for Perseus.

Stars and distant galaxies slowly revolve in the background. One thing to notice is that it’s eerie to see whole abandoned spaceships floating in the sky while you explore the planets on foot. In some, entire hulls have been ripped out. It makes you wonder what happened before you came?

The Gameplay

As far as point-and-clicks go, this one is pretty standard. You play as both characters, searching through the seven areas to click around and collect items or interact with other strange creatures. Doing so unlocks certain events that will lead to freedom.

Each character offers different skills. Gagayev can use items you collect while Perseus has a loud bark. The little dog also serves as a translator and can give you hints for items. You can switch between the two very quickly and even get them to not follow each other, mechanics that are necessary for some puzzles. You can also abandon one of them on a planet while you take off in the spaceship.

That being said, there’s no death in the game and no mistakes to be made, just things that don’t work. Some of the puzzles are clever and require a bit of thought. You’ll have to think as odd as this game is to solve some of them. But fair warning: a few of the puzzles are time-based, so you need to be quick or patient depending on the situation. There’s a really neat, if not a bit frustrating, time puzzle later in the game that incorporates the world into the solution.

The Little Things That Make It Shine

For starters, the allusions to space are sweet. It’s cute that a monkey and dog are astronauts, a nod to the first animals in space. It’s also funny that mice get stranded on a moon-like planet. You know, because moons are made of cheese.

One thing I love about the game is the fact that there are no long-winded stories or explanations to bog it down. A lot of the stranded characters don’t speak much, but you just know they have histories you will never know. There’s an old man drinking beer. When you give him a trophy, he tosses you the bottle and holds tightly to the little statue. Something happened, but you will never know what. There’s a secret base. Why was it there? Why is it so abandoned now? You will never know, but it all adds to the eerie stillness of this bubble-trap space.

Issues

While what it offers is great, I would have loved to see more content within the main game to justify the $15 price tag. It’s a little too short at almost 3-4 hours, so it would have benefited from extra planets and puzzles. Not much is needed, but it would be nice.

Movement is incredibly slow, making it tedious to walk from one side of the planet to the other. The rocket flight is fluid and seems like a natural part of the game rather than a tacked-on addition meant to get you between locations, but it takes so long to get from planet to planet! With the amount of backtracking you need to do in the game, you can see how this can be a problem.

Overall Thoughts

Considering this was the second game from a development team of two people, it is surprisingly well-made! While it doesn’t revolutionize the point-and-click genre, it’s a wonderful callback to the style and offers an overall enjoyable experience. If you love sci-fi, the theme of isolation, and weird animal astronauts, you’ll have a good time with Tales of Cosmos. It is currently available on Steam for $15.

Code provided by developers for review.

]]>
Interview with NAIRI Developer Joshua van Kuilenburg https://www.gameskinny.com/dxz5m/interview-with-nairi-developer-joshua-van-kuilenburg https://www.gameskinny.com/dxz5m/interview-with-nairi-developer-joshua-van-kuilenburg Sat, 29 Oct 2016 16:42:27 -0400 Joshua Harris

From the creative minds behind Home Bear Studio comes the cutest point-and-click puzzle adventure NAIRIThis graphic adventure follows the journey of Nairi, an upper-class girl who has long been abandoned by her family and Rex, a scholar with a criminal past as they explore the reaches and dark secrets of the oasis city of Shirin. 

I had the privilege of interviewing the developer Joshua van Kuilenburg and was able to gleam a better insight into what makes NAIRI tick. Wanting to get a sense of what is driving the project, along with influences and motivations behind the games narrative and design, I delved deeper into the nature of NAIRI. 

 LanguidLexicon: What is meant by the City of Shirin being a 'character'?

Joshua van Kuilenburg: Well, just as the main characters in NAIRI have a fleshed out backstory and personality, so does Shirin. It is not a living character in that the city conveys its own emotions and ideas, but in that there is a sense of history and meaning behind its existence.
Really, it’s a faster way of saying we put effort into the process of constructing an imaginary world.

LL: The art and character designs are outrageously cute, what influenced the artistic style of NAIRI?

JvK: The artist, You, has a deep appreciation for a lot art styles. She grew up in Japan, with the typical anime and Studio Ghibli influences, but she’s also inspired by Western art.
What we do in NAIRI, is we take a cute or childish trope, such as anthropomorphized animals, but treat stuff like line work, color and lighting as if it were a more realistic art style.
It helps make the art ‘endearing’, rather than ‘simply cute’. Disney and Pixar are masters when it comes to that sort of stuff, and You likes taking inspiration from them, as well.

LL: How did you find yourself getting into game development?

JvK: Me personally, I’ve been drawing ‘level designs’ since I was 6 years old and making games in GameMaker when I got a little older. This year I received my bachelor of applied science in ‘Game Architecture & Design’, and now I’m developing NAIRI. In various degrees of gravitas, I feel like I’ve always been into game development.

LL: What were the driving factor(s) behind developing NAIRI? How long has this been in the works before bringing it to steam and Kickstarter?

JvK: The main driving force behind NAIRI is our desire to make our living by creating experiences for people to enjoy. Once we knew exactly what sort of experience we wanted – and could – deliver, and the concept evolved over time, NAIRI really became our passion project. NAIRI has been in development for a couple of months now.  

LL: What other systems are you planning on porting NAIRI to when you reach your goal? Would Linux or Mac be in the pipeline?

JvK: 

If it were up to me, I’d spent some time during or after development to port and localize NAIRI – make it accessible to as many folks as possible. When facing reality, though, we need funding to do this. Right now, sadly, I can’t promise anything pre-release until stretch goals are reached.

LL: I see that Kickstarter page mentions the degree of difficulty of puzzles will increase dramatically. What can the player expect when faced with these progressively arduous challenges? If they miss a clue or an item early on, how might that affect the outcome of their current game?

JvK: 

Quick answer: important items won’t be missable – we don’t feel that finding and keeping stuff in itself makes for a satisfying puzzle-experience. Long answer: every conflict or puzzle in NAIRI is documented automatically by Rex in this little journal he carries around with him. It’s constructed in a way that nudges players in the right direction, rather than giving straight-forward tips. I find that most of time players get stuck, they don’t want solutions – they want context. They need a clear goal, they need to understand what elements are interactive, that sort of thing. So the journal goes: “If players get stuck, what other perspective would help them?” It tries hard to respect the player’s intelligence. That said, it’s entirely optional and non-intrusive for the hardcore puzzle enthusiasts.

LL: I see that the Visual Artist You Miichi loves games like Animal Crossing, what bearing did that have on the world of NAIRI?

JvK: Animal Crossing, like most Nintendo games, is very adept at presenting insanely cute imagery without the game feeling outright childish. I don’t think You took inspiration from Animal Crossing directly, but I’m sure those sorts of games had a subconscious impact on her as an artist.

LL: Will players be encouraged to combine as much items as they can? How much relevance does this game mechanic have on gameplay and puzzle solving?

Combining items is certainly relevant, is it’s required for a lot of puzzles.
Indeed, I do have this idea of having multiple solutions, or item combinations, for a single problem. To prevent this from becoming frustrating, though, a lot of different items and combination must be considered, as well as a complex yet intuitive inventory. Whether or not a lot of possibilities will actually contribute to entertaining puzzles… This will require more experimentation. It’s something we have to pay attention to.

LL: Finally, what do you hope your backers will take away from NAIRI?

JvK: 

All I hope for is that they will have a lot of fun, that the game will put a smile on their face.
Ideally, I hope that they will fondly remember NAIRI long after they’ve completed it!

If you would like to check on Joshua and You's progress on Kickstarter, give the widget below a view, they have surpassed their goal with three days to spare. I would like to congratulate them both for achieving their goal! Be sure to give their website Home Bear Studio as well for more information. 

 

]]>
Bear With Me Episode One Review: Solving Crimes Has Never Been this Cute https://www.gameskinny.com/imxhp/bear-with-me-episode-one-review-solving-crimes-has-never-been-this-cute https://www.gameskinny.com/imxhp/bear-with-me-episode-one-review-solving-crimes-has-never-been-this-cute Wed, 28 Sep 2016 02:00:01 -0400 Angelina Bonilla

Bear With Me is an episodic point and click adventure game developed and published by Exordium Games that was released on August 8th 2016.

The game is stylized as a classic noir movie yet is completely self-aware, which, considering the protagonists are a little girl and her teddy bear, is not surprising. The story goes that Amber, our heroine, is seized with nightmares, only to be woken up by her toy giraffe Millie telling her that she can’t find Amber’s younger brother. Amber then employs the help of the great detective Ted E. Bear, in order to help find him and uncover the mystery of the “Red Man”.

Other than Amber, every single character we see is some kind of toy, whether they’re a robot or a stuffed giraffe, each character has their own distinct personality. They’re all anthropomorphized though, which means that you, the player, see them as an old granny giraffe or a steelworker robot. You get various dialogue options with them and can sometimes get new hints of just what’s going on in the story. It adds life in this relatively short first look, and since you can beat this first episode in an hour, it’s good to see it wanting to keep your attention and leave you wanting more, which I think Bear With Me Episode One does incredibly well. 

This is only episode one and the whole episode takes place in Amber’s house, which is drawn very stylized in black and white, just like the old detective movies. The only times where there is color in the game is when bits and pieces of story are shown in a comic book like fashion, very well drawn comic books mind you, in the same style as the game; narrated over by Ted. This never once feels jarring or out of place and melds into the tone of the story very well. Combine this with the moody sounds of the game’s stellar soundtrack, which very much advertises the amount of time and effort that was put into the aesthetic appeal for Bear With Me Episode One. Everything, the music, the gameplay, the story telling, connects together very well.

As a point and click adventure game, Bear With Me Episode One keeps things simple in terms of puzzles and such. It’s straight forward, doesn’t do anything new but it also doesn’t try to “Change the Wheel” in a way that could alienate some potential consumers.  Some things you need to talk to certain people more than once, sometimes you have to stick a couple of items together, but even then it’s an easy first episode as long as you’re paying attention to what the characters say.

Speaking of the characters, they’re a nice diverse cast with varying personalities and an obvious history with one another. The writing is great, balancing out the more serious moments with plenty of lighthearted jabs at video games, the genre of film it’s paying homage to, and general fourth wall humor. Now, there are times where they go a little overboard with it and turn the puns or the cheesy jokes up to maximum capacity. It’s not prevalent enough to make you want to claw your own eyes out, which it very well could have been... so let’s be thankful for that.

For a first episode like Bear With Me Episode One, the only problems I saw were on a more technical level, things like the voices going completely silent while the dialogue was still going, then the game hurries to catch up which can be a bit jarring. There's occasionally weird silences before the characters start talking in some rooms, but these are things that can be fixed with a patch. Nonetheless, I still wanted to cover them as they are noticeable enough to be annoying to some players.

Bear With Me Episode One is a great start to a series, and if it keeps up this level of quality throughout, it could be one of the best games of the year.

Review copy supplied by publisher.

]]>
King’s Quest Chapter 4: Snow Place like Home Launches on September 27th https://www.gameskinny.com/4jb58/kings-quest-chapter-4-snow-place-like-home-launches-on-september-27th https://www.gameskinny.com/4jb58/kings-quest-chapter-4-snow-place-like-home-launches-on-september-27th Wed, 21 Sep 2016 19:34:44 -0400 Alex Anderson_0905

Sierra announced that the fourth chapter of the new King’s Quest will be released worldwide on September 27th. The game has been developed by The Odd Gentlemen and will be available for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.

According to Matt Korba, the president and creative director of The Odd Gentlemen, Chapter 4 will be the second to last chapter of the episodic series. He also stated that Chapter 5 and the bonus epilogue should be released before the holiday season.

Snow Place Like Home will follow the story of King Graham and Queen Valanice’s son Alexander’s return home after 18 years. Alexander was stolen from his parents as an infant. Upon his return, Graham must decide how to reconnect with his son, while trying to learn what happened to him all those years ago. In true King’s Quest fashion, this chapter promises challenging puzzles, adventures, and puns.

Follow Graham and his granddaughter, Gwendolyn, through the untold tales of his amazing reign in this amazing re-imagining of King’s Quest.

]]>
Obduction Review https://www.gameskinny.com/pfcr5/obduction-review https://www.gameskinny.com/pfcr5/obduction-review Tue, 13 Sep 2016 06:00:01 -0400 ForTheTwo

Obduction, spiritual successor to the likes of Myst and Riven, opens in an abandoned campground. In front, a placid lake, burning campfire, the moon, and something else entirely. Throwing a player into an unfamiliar world, left to their own devices to figure out where they are, what is happening, and why. Even the game's title is a puzzle, filled with multiple meanings, and left, largely unexplained, for the player to figure out.

Obduction's entire existence owes its thanks to the legacy of Myst, the runaway genre-breaking/creating/redefining multi-million copy selling title of the early 90's. The game was funded by a 1.3 million dollar Kickstarter campaign. It is a love letter to Myst and its successors from the very people behind that title, going so far as to use CD-ROM era full motion video for all the game's NPCs.

The first meaning behind the game's title is a play off of "Abduction." The game, fittingly, places its title-card at the end of its short prologue, as the player is teleported away by an alien seed-pod. Spinning like a firecracker, it appears shooting through the sky only to come to a physics defying hover. "Mesmerising, but unnerving," someone whispers in a crackling voice as the player tries to move closer and closer.

The second meaning refers to geology, and comes from a Latin word meaning to cover, or envelop. Abduction comes with a literal obduction, as the player's immediate surroundings have been taken with them to an alien landscape. To be more specific, the alien landscape sits outside a bubble, with the player character and a settlement of several dozen abductees trapped on the inside. Welcome To Hunrath.

What does it mean to play Obduction? No enemies, no inventory, no UI and a single introverted NPC make for a compelling game experience that still feels fresh and innovative, despite its aged origins. The interface is a throwback, but it's also a fundamental design choice at the heart of Obduction. Myst's innovation, working just as well in 2016 as it did in 1993, was to pare down everything except the bare essentials of gameplay. Immersion was the watchword: there should be as few obstructions between the player and game-world as possible. 

"Death steals everything, except our stories."
Jim Harrison, American Novelist

"We all lost everything. Everything but our stories, and they shouldn't be forgotten."
Caroline Farley, Hunrath Resident

Hunrath itself is beautiful and quirky, a hodgepodge of eras, technology and style. Mayor Josef offers audio-guided tours of its unique features, but the majority of the information about the place isn't delivered in a conversation, it's discovered. A series of professionally carved gravestones have painted plywood tacked over the names of the original occupants. An old diary gives an account of how its owner found a giant crater where a nearby mining town had vanished overnight. In a subtly funny moment, the player finds the engine car of a train connected to the intact pump of a 1940's era Gas Station: the town's improvised source of power. Hunrath isn't the only world to explore in Obduction, but like Myst's first island, it's thoughtfully crafted and dense, a full realized and lived-in world. Naturally, nobody's around.

"Exploring everything around you allows you to read between the lines and to begin to answer your questions. Why is there an old, abandoned farmhouse - complete with white picket fence - in the middle of an alien landscape? You'll find out. From this point on the story becomes your story."

Obduction: Kickstarter Description

Obduction has no other English definition: in German, it simply means autopsy. As the game points out repeatedly, all these stories have come to an end on Hunrath, or another dome-enclosed settlement in similar circumstances. The player is alone, and they've arrived too late to meet any of these people, too late to change any of their stories. Well, except for the bristly C.W., locked in his workroom. The fact that he has no in-game model, and he only talks to you after you push a button on his door probably doesn't have anything to do with the button activated voice-capable hologram projectors seen around town.

Dissembling the experience of playing Obduction is a difficult task, and ultimately a futile one. The game's design philosophy is such that each portion of the game is designed to complement the whole, and while certain portions of the game may be more memorable or emotionally compelling than others, their context is often the same. 

The soundtrack, composed by game's director Robyn Miller is rich and enthralling, giving different environments their own distinctive feel. In a few situations, the cues can be a little jarring, but when they hit their mark, they hit hard as with this melancholy melody, which plays when first entering the disused community center.

Myst was one of the best looking games for its time, and Obduction keeps that standard even when held up against contemporary titles. Textures pop, painted signs have noticeable cracks and flecks, and even smear at the edges. It's hard to think of another title that has caused this reviewer to stop and stare at wood grain.

Adventure games used to be a genre with stunning appeal: Myst was the best selling computer game for almost an entire decade after its release. Now, with over twenty years of games spanning the distance, some parts of the point and click adventure irritate more than they used to. Playing in free-roaming mode, for example, the difference between a climbable incline, and an impassable ledge isn't as clear as it could be, and the mine-cart sections could stand to be a little faster. Overall, these are momentary hiccups in what is otherwise an enthralling experience.

More troublesome are a number of hardware and software hiccups. While the developers have taken care to address them as best they can, a number of outstanding issue can impact the game's performance on low-powered systems. Lower-end hard drives can make load-times take a matter of minutes, and in-game text becomes unreadable with certain default settings. In-game screenshots can become corrupted. Fixes for these are available, but their persistence becomes an annoyance, and breaks the oh-so important immersion.

Obduction is the adventure genre returning to its roots: downgrade the visuals far enough, and the game could've easily been released twenty odd years ago. It is a stunning reminder of what made the genre the behemoth of its time, and a equally compelling addition to its ranks.

Obduction is available for purchase from Steam, GOG and the Humble Store.

]]>
Why are 2D Point-and-Click Adventures Still So Appealling? https://www.gameskinny.com/3pmrn/why-are-2d-point-and-click-adventures-still-so-appealling https://www.gameskinny.com/3pmrn/why-are-2d-point-and-click-adventures-still-so-appealling Mon, 29 Aug 2016 03:24:52 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

In this modern age in gaming where graphics have never been closer to imitating reality, and the higher-end games in the industry have budgets in the range of several hundred-million dollars, why is there still such a strong audience for the genre of 2D Point-and-Click Adventure Games? What keeps such a simple kind of game relevant among it's bigger-budgeted and more mechanically complex peers? 

Really old and possibly outdated example, but the point still stands.

There are a few likely reasons for this.

It may be due in part to the methodical nature of the genre. The average point-and-click adventure game is somewhat slowly-paced, but usually not from a lack of understanding of how to space out their gameplay or tell their story. More often than not, it's done in order to take advantage of the benefit that this genre has over most other genres in gaming; Problem-solving based solely in critical thinking.

While there are games and series of point-and-clicks that have fail states and manners in which you can die in time-sensitive situations (Most games by Telltale and the original King's Quest games spring to mind), an advantage had with the puzzle-centric gameplay of point-and-click adventures allows for game design based around creative thinking, wherein violence is the answer much less often than in most other games, and often the hardest option.

One of the most satisfying feelings a gamer can achieve in any game is the feeling of figuring out a really savagely mind-twisting puzzle (even better without a walkthrough), and allowing themselves to feel like they overcame an intellectual challenge, and that's what point-and-clicks are all about at their core. It is true that figuring out which item to use on what other item, or character, can be a tedious task if it takes too long or isn't very obvious to the user, but in those moments when they think hard and get the right answer on the first try, it makes them feel like a genius.

Going through conversations both in and out of the courtroom in Ace Attorney looking for the perfect evidence to solve the problem at hand. Always a treat!

It's also a genre that doesn't shy away from storytelling 

Being games that aren't known for their fast-paced gameplay, and that can't reliably create frenetic action or intense conflict to be involved in, point-and-click games tend to live or die on two things: their puzzles and their writing.

When a point-and-click player isn't solving a puzzle they're talking with other characters, clicking on objects in the background in order to search for new items and flavor text, and just generally doing a lot of reading or listening. This fact must have been a revelation that many developers of point-and-click games (especially golden-age LucasArts) had early on in the heyday of this genre, as nearly all of the point-and-clicks that are the most fondly remembered are the ones that are agreed to be well-written.

Games like Day of the Tentacle, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Grim Fandango (and other examples that don't involve Tim Schafer) all house beloved characters and intricate plot-lines, which become the most praised aspects of the games. Tales like that of Guybrush Threepwood overcoming adversity in Monkey Island or Lee doing his best to survive in Walking Dead are stories with gripping narratives that stick with most players longer than the plot of the average mainstream gaming experience.

Not to mention, because this genre built itself on MacGyver-esque makeshift problem solving that relied on a train-of-logic unique to each individual developer, which could get kinda crazy -- point-and-clicks aren't afraid to be strange most of the time. It's a genre with a library loaded with experimental and difficult to imitate titles.

This may also be why it's a genre with so many silly classics.

 Share a Grog with LeChuck.

A lot of the most fondly remembered point-and-click games are those that have comedic plots and characters. Again this is not always the case, such as with The Walking Dead, but games like Grim Fandango, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, and the Broken Sword series are all most often remembered for their quirkiness and comedy.

This is part of the reason that many laugh, rather than roll their eyes at instances of the famed "adventure game logic" at work in games like these. An instance that exemplifies this exists in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People where the player has to pour a tub of melted butter into a fog machine in order to season some flying bats and get a guitarist to eat them.

Yes, really.  

In a situation like this one some people may be irritated or annoyed, thinking to themselves "How was I supposed to think of that?" However, many others will be laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation, and perhaps even applauding the game for forcing the player to think outside the box to that level; Maybe even feeling grateful that they got the chance to do something so outlandish in a video game.

The video games industry as a whole has been working towards realistic graphics and conflicts in games for years, and most AAA titles are adult-oriented with a typically serious tones. With Point-and click adventure games it's nice to know there's a genre whose bread-and-butter is surprising and joking around with the player's expectations nine times out of ten.

Overall, point-and-click adventures are the kind of game people like to play when they just wanna kick back and think for a while. They aren't for everybody, and strong writing can only carry a game so much, but as an alternative to the usual sorts of games that pop up these days, it's good to know there's a genre on standby to make you laugh and use your brain.

]]>
Sequel to The Inner World announced at Gamescom https://www.gameskinny.com/68gow/sequel-to-the-inner-world-announced-at-gamescom https://www.gameskinny.com/68gow/sequel-to-the-inner-world-announced-at-gamescom Wed, 17 Aug 2016 04:45:47 -0400 Captain Booya

A #1 iOS hit in 2013, The Inner World's Germany-based indie developer, Studio Fizbin showed off a teaser trailer for The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk at Gamescom today.

Judging from the teaser and press release, this sequel seems to offer a very similar experience to its predecessor, complete with 'ambiguous humor' and the studio's unique 2D hand-drawn characters and environments -- which compliment The Inner World's wacky and light-hearted atmosphere. The game continues the story with the same main characters established in the first title, though the devs claim 'You don't need to know the first part!' necessarily.

Other features include taking control of Peck the pigeon in addition to main characters Robert and Laura, and a spoiler-free hint system to help players who get stuck; an innovation several developers of the point-and-click puzzle genre seem to include recently.

No set date has yet been confirmed, but we can expect to see The Inner World: The Last Wind Monk on 'at least' Steam, PS4, Xbox One, iOS and Android systems sometime in 2017. You can see more on their site.

]]>
Bear With Me Mixes Fran Bow and Film Noir Mystery https://www.gameskinny.com/0sep8/bear-with-me-mixes-fran-bow-and-film-noir-mystery https://www.gameskinny.com/0sep8/bear-with-me-mixes-fran-bow-and-film-noir-mystery Tue, 09 Aug 2016 08:46:36 -0400 Captain Booya

Exordium Games, an independent studio based in Croatia, released its witty detective adventure, Bear With Me yesterday (August 8) on Steam for Windows users.

The game puts a unique twist on the point-and-click mystery/puzzle genre, by way of the story and characters playing out in the imagination of the 10-year-old girl protagonist, Amber -- partnered with the game's namesake Ted E. Bear, a archetypal, gruff 1950's detective. Amber and Ted must solve and find clues with the player's help, and interview a cast of imaginary toy-based characters to progress the story.

The game is presented in a black and white, 2D animation style, and also features a 'non-linear' storyline akin to Telltale Games IPs, where certain decisions will affect characters and events. It promises sarcastic, dark, and funny dialogue from start to finish, which is available in several languages besides English. There is also a 'simple hint system to avoid pixel hunting', which should avoid some of those classic "I'm stuck!" frustrations which the genre can be prone to.

According to Andrej Kovacevic, Game Director at Exordium Games:

"Bear With Me combines the story-telling of classic detective movies with the formula of today’s most popular films. We’ve spent years crafting an experience accessible to the whole family, but with sharp wit, cutting one-liners and pop culture references that only an adult will truly appreciate.”

From the trailer, it looks to be a well-polished and well-acted slice of story driven gaming.

Episode 1 of Bear With Me is available for purchase on Steam and Humble at 10% off until the 15th August for $4.49 USD.

]]>
Story Driven Indie Game The Lion's Song: Episode 1 Launches for Free https://www.gameskinny.com/scxjw/story-driven-indie-game-the-lions-song-episode-1-launches-for-free https://www.gameskinny.com/scxjw/story-driven-indie-game-the-lions-song-episode-1-launches-for-free Tue, 12 Jul 2016 04:58:25 -0400 HaruOfTime

The Lion's Song is an episodic point and click indie adventure game developed and published by a Vienna-based independent developer called Mi'pi'mi Games. The game was recently released on July 7, 2016, and the first episode of the game is available on Steam for free. The season pass for the game costs $9.99, and will include the other 3 episodes. Each individual episode will also be available for $3.99 each.

The first episode "Silence" follows the story of Wilma, a young and talented musician, struggling with writer's block. Arthur Caban, her university professor, has her sent traveling to a small cabin in the alps to find inspiration for music. While in the cabin surrounded by mountains in complete solitude, she has an unexpected encounter.

The game's story is influenced by early 20th century history. Each episode follows different Austrian artists and scientists, who all share the theme of struggling to find inspiration for their creative works. While the game's art style may seem simple with its use of pixelated graphics and monochrome colors, the amount of detail put into the art is impressive and gives the game a distinct and unique style.

Check out The Lion's Song on Steam, and learn more on the game's development blog.

]]>
The Tale of Doris and The Dragon Coming to Mobile Soon https://www.gameskinny.com/05hrs/the-tale-of-doris-and-the-dragon-coming-to-mobile-soon https://www.gameskinny.com/05hrs/the-tale-of-doris-and-the-dragon-coming-to-mobile-soon Mon, 11 Jul 2016 05:36:13 -0400 ESpalding

You don't normally see little old ladies being the stars of video games -- let alone mobile games -- but indie developer Arrogant Pixel's debut game sees an elderly woman as the lead character. The Tale of Doris and The Dragon, due to release in Fall 2016, is the story of Doris -- a lady who has passed away and is now stuck in Purgatory.

The game follows her journey as she tries to find her lost husband. The Tale of Doris and The Dragon - Episode 1 has been available as a beta since April 2015 on Newgrounds and GameJolt, and has received raving reviews.

The game is a point and click adventure which truly plays homage to the retro games of the 90s with this design and soundtrack. The seemingly simple graphics and minimalistic gameplay keeps players focused on the game narrative and Doris' adventures.

“This point and click adventure game was created out of sheer determination; a passion to take a game genre we cared about and do it justice. We wanted to create a game that we were proud of and had poured all of our love, time and creativity into. And that’s how Doris was born in January 2015.”

-- Ben Simpson, Founder and Lead Designer

The Tale of Doris and the Dragon will be available on iOS and Android through the App Store and Google Play. It will also release on PC via Steam. An exact release date this fall is yet to be confirmed.

Check out the 2016 official release trailer below and tell us what you think!

 

]]>
Visual Novels: What are they? https://www.gameskinny.com/kwu1u/visual-novels-what-are-they https://www.gameskinny.com/kwu1u/visual-novels-what-are-they Wed, 11 May 2016 09:44:03 -0400 Sagger Khraishi

If you remember the old Goosebumps choose-your-own-adventure books, you can probably think of Visual Novels as something like that. With interactive elements, they are closer to video games than e-books, but are still cut up into series. These novels can either be flat images put together or little interactive bits. But the general idea is that it is a halfway point between media.

An example of the Visual Novel Fate/Stay Night

One of the more notable companies that were built around Visual Novels would be Telltale Games. Known for games like Monkey Island, or Tales from the Borderlands, the company uses the storytelling of novels to create an episodic animated adventure that could be played in multiple ways.

Source: Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge

Something that is important to note is that while visual novels can count as point-and-click games, that does not mean all point-and-click games are visual novels. For games like Machinarium, there is little to no text in the game. Instead it relies on visuals that the player is used to, in order to explain the story.

While you can argue that the game would work as a visual novel (in some artsy way that it goes past the need for words to get the point across), the game itself is closer to a video game than an actual novel. But as American audiences for these games grow, we would be expecting a difference between visual novels from Asia and Western versions to grow.

If you are interested in learning more about these things, check out our top 5 Visual Novels on the Steam store here.

]]>