The world’s gone dark, but you can’t remember why. Now a tower stands before you, imposing yet inviting from the light behind its front door. Perhaps it would be good to come inside, find shelter…and more importantly, answers. This is Luna: The Shadow Dust.
- Visual Spectacle: Luna the Shadow Dust is a wonder of not just visual arts, with astonishing hand-drawn environments and characters but also of visual storytelling. There is no dialogue, not single word spoken or written and yet it manages to convey its narrative and the sheer depth of the characters’ emotional journey. And it’s not just cutscenes, even the gameplay sections contribute to the storytelling. If there was ever a game that exemplified “Show, don’t tell,” it’s definitely Luna: The Shadow Dust.
- It’s all Logic: Every room in the tower in Luna: The Shadow Dust holds a puzzle and every single one of them is entertaining as hell, and while only a handful are delightfully complex (it’s fairly well-known at this point that I love complex multi-part puzzles), none of them is trivial or feel tacked on. Best of all, they’re all logic or observation based, meaning the hints are all around you, you just have to pay attention.
- Never had a friend like me: You begin the game controlling a single character but soon enough you find a curious little beast who becomes your inseparable companion in solving puzzles, exploring the tower and in the story itself and I have to praise Luna: The Shadow dust for getting me to care about the little thing and the relationship with the main character well before there was ever a cutscene that showed any tenderness between them. Switching between them freely, to solve puzzles by collaborating, is a genius way to get you to care about both characters.
- Deep Hidden World: Luna deserves more than one playthrough, which is unusually for me to even consider with adventure games or any that are puzzle-heavy. After all, if you already know the solutions what’s the point of playing it again. Well, in Luna: The Shadow Dust’s case, there is a great deep lore about the world and the game’s events that I frankly just got the gist of when playing through it. I’m jumping back in to carefully pay attention to the all the visual cues and clues about the world and the narrative that starts well before the beginning of the adventure.
- Shortround: Luna: The Shadows Dust is not a very long game, I personally finished it in one sitting, with only the last handful of puzzles making me struggle a bit (I see you, clocktower puzzle!). I would have liked to see much more complexity near the end, some real brain-zingers, and perhaps a few more puzzles. But there is a point, about midway through the game where I couldn’t help but feel things were rushing towards the end a bit, as if the pace changed. It doesn’t ruin the story, and perhaps contributes to the tension, but I would have liked a bit more to play with.
Someone’s kidnapped a bunch of spoonbeaks and now it’s up to
Nelly Cootalot to rescue them. Why? Because a ghost pirate said so!
- One Man, many voices: Alystair Becket-Smith, creator of Nelly Cootalot voices all male characters in the game and he does a pretty damn good job, as every character feels unique in their own way. It’s impressive really.
- Fun & Silly: The world of Nelly Cootalot is funny, silly and full of wonderful charm. Considering this is a remaster of a very old game, it’s surprising how well the comedy holds up. It’s still as funny and charming now as it was when first created.
- Canny Pirate: Going into Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! I expected puzzles to be simple and just about finding the next segment of the inventory puzzle chain, but instead I found many instances of clever curve-balls thrown my way and I loved that.
- End of Prologue: Spoonbeaks Ahoy is a fun game but a very short one, with very few locations to visit and puzzles to solve, making it feel more like a prologue to its sequel than a standalone game in the series.
A drunken guard lets in a dark stranger into town and in doing so he inadvertently steps into an epic time-spanning and twisting adventure that will definitely hammer in the importance of his Guard Duty. Continue reading Review: Guard Duty
Months ago, I previewed the first case of Grundislav Games’ latest point & click adventure game, Lamplight City, a crime drama adventure set in a Victorian-esque steampunk world, where it’s all too possible to screw up an investigation and not reach the right conclusion.
Having now played through the entire game, I can say I enjoyed my time in New Bretagne with my new detective buddy Miles Fordham and the annoying voice in his head. It’s a fun adventure, even with the uneven quality of the different cases. Continue reading Review – Lamplight City
From the first moment I played one of Dave Gilbert’s games, I became a fan of Wadjet Eye Games and have enjoyed every title they’ve released. When the chance came to get my hands on Unavowed, their latest point & click adventure, I jumped at the chance.
Continue reading Review: Unavowed
When I received the press release for A Rite from the Stars I have to admit my surprise. The last time I saw the game was during Risin’ Goat’s crowdfunding campaign for the title in 2014, before it disappeared from my radar after the successful completion of the campaign. It’s taken close to four years since the launch of the Kickstarter campaign to play A Rite from the Stars, now published by Phoenix Online Studios. Was it worth the way? Let’s see! Continue reading Review: A Rite from the Stars
The last Grundislav Games titles I played were Shardlight and A Golden Wake and I absolutely loved them. Now I’ve received a nifty preview key for their upcoming title, Lamplight City, and you bet I had to take a look. And to make it more interesting, I’ve done my preview in video form! Continue reading Preview – Lamplight City
Have you ever been working on something and been so stuck you can’t think your way out of the situation? Have you then tried to force yourself to come up with a solution? Has it worked for you or do you find yourself still stuck just more frustrated?
How about when dealing with something personal and internal, some long overdue and difficult introspection, have you ever found yourself growing more and more upset, close to the breaking point and nowhere near that sweet epiphany your hope is at the end?
What do you do in those cases? For me, when I’m in those situations, I turn to gaming. Here’s why. Continue reading Brain Game – How video games help me think
Harper is a university dropout handyman. He’s got no motivations and pretty much no aspirations, until a mysterious plague spreads across his town and he finds an infected woman dying on his doorstep begging him to complete her mission. After that, he’s embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy, with dangerous twists and plenty of Unforeseen Incidents.
Unforeseen Incidents is a point & click adventure game, one of the many wonderful titles I’ve been enjoying recently, as more and more developers turn to the adventure genre to give us great stories and characters. Unforeseen Incident might be one of the best games I’ve played this year, a truly engrossing adventure that kept me hooked right up to the very end.
Release date: May 2018
- Great Art: I love this art style. Part of it is the way the artist, Matthias Nikutta, draws the eyes, making all characters look bewildered, insomniac or psychotic. They’re wide crazy eyes and it’s phenomenal. But what really makes it striking is how much the important details and the theme of each locale, stand out. For example, Yelltown is a backwater town with a derelict quality to it, but only in its exterior. Buildings, on the outside, look patched together but on the inside they’re nice, and it’s the same with their people, they might seem rough but are gentle, and it’s all expressed brilliantly through the art. Best thing is that it looks wonderful still and even better in motion.
- The Hero we Deserve: I’ve long complained of adventure game protagonists acting as villains on their way to save the world, hurting others through their actions, cheating and lying to success, which makes Harper stand out. There are instances of him messing with others, sure, but more often than not, he’s getting what he needs by helping others, by lending a hand to a friend in need. And he’s a genuinely good guy, often underestimated despite being quite capable at what he does.
- Romance Subverted: It’s quite typical in a point & click adventure game featuring a man and a woman as central characters, for them to develop a romantic relationship. It’s been done to death, so I found it extremely refreshing that Unforeseen Incidents subverts that trope and even lampshades it. Near the end there’s a moment of tender embrace and Harper goes for the kiss, for a hilarious reaction by his female lead, Helliwell. It’s fantastic, and it’s not just that moment but an entire game where Harper and the women around him stand as equals, allies and friends without romance shoehorned in.
- Brain Teaser: I have been stuck in Unforeseen Incidents quite a few times, oblivious to the solutions to the puzzles, even when I held all the pieces in front of me. I love it when that happens, as I have to think carefully about my options. The good thing is that at no point is the solution something so outlandish that you wonder what kind of paint the designers have been sniffing. Everything follows a rational logic, but sometimes the clues are very well hidden. For example, the password for an account in chapter three could be hidden in an item collected in chapter two, but with the username changed based on the pattern made apparent by the last account you used in another system. It’s all logical, as many companies and organisation tend to keep the same naming conventions for accounts, but if you’re looking for an easy answer, you’re gonna have a rough time, or if you’re like me, a hell of a fun time! Favourite puzzle, hands down, if the pressure plate puzzle to recreate a cult’s motto. Loved it.
- Praise the DJ: Not only is the art style amazing and the puzzles fun, but Unforeseen Incident’s music is also extremely good, from the moment you launch the game, so kudos to Tristan Berger, the composer and sound designer. The title has this intense violin that combined with the sound of a storm in the background just makes you feel like you’re stepping into a thriller. Yelltown also uses the violin but in a much calmer way, along with a guitar, for something of a sad melody, reflecting the abandonment of the town and then you reach Greystone Woods National Park and the guitar and banjo combo just screams backwoods countryside (which is funny when the devs are Backwoods Entertainment). It’s phenomenal how much the music complements the art style in telling you the story of the place your adventuring in. It’s genius.
- Strong Vocals: I have high praise for the voice acting, especially Harper’s. I love the intensity the actors bring to the characters’ reactions, in particular his bewilderment at other people’s craziness. Greystone is a prime example, with a collection of weirdos living in the area everyone with a stranger story, leaving Harper the only sane man in a few hundred miles and often reacting to the stupid things they say as if they made complete sense, the brothers managing the hydroelectric plant being the best of them.
- Great Story, Great Villains: Often even the most grounded-sounding point & click adventure game will have a plot that goes off the rails and into cuckoo town by the end, which is why I so enjoyed Unforeseen Incident’s story so much. It’s a bit far-fetched but it makes sense and the villain’s reasons for doing things are freaking genius. They make perfect sense, and nothing makes a better antagonist than one who doesn’t see the evil in their actions but a necessity and stands uncaring in the face of cruelty, all of it part of the plan, another tool in the belt.
- Gratuitous Mini-Game: You gotta know a game is fantastic when the sum of my complaints is that between chapters there is a hacking puzzle mini game without any context. It stands on its own, for no apparent reason, without even a revelation down the line that it’s all been another character hacking the villain’s systems. Nope, just a little mini game to give you a puzzle fix between intermission story points. Yeah, that’s my only complaint and it’s pretty much nitpicking to have something in the “The Bad” section. The game’s perfect, now leave me alone and go play it!
A few weeks ago I saw that Cyan Worlds had put up a Kickstarter campaign for a 25th Anniversary Collection of Myst, a series of games I adore but because of limitations, mostly incompatibility with modern systems and being unavailable for purchase, haven’t been able to play as much as I’ve wanted to, with some titles in the series completely out of my reach.
Needless to say, I jumped at the chance and spent a ludicrous amount of money on the project, going for the next to last tier, “Writer,” which will nab me the digital and physical copies of the games and a Myst Book Box, which along with the rest of the rewards I’m hoping will be freaking cool. Continue reading Top Myst-like Games