500 word game reviews

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AngryJellyfish
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It's 2018! :blow: And as part of my New Year's Resolution to spend more time on gaming (which has always been a secondary hobby to anime and manga for me), I thought I'd set up a thread for short game reviews. Emphasis on short, approx. 500 words, because I tend to ramble otherwise.

I'll be posting these throughout the year, if all goes according to plan, though the frequency will depend on how long a particular game is, of course! But if anyone else wants to post their own reviews here too, please feel free! That would keep things varied, as I tend to play a lot of similar (mostly older, point-and-click PC) games.

Don't worry TOO much about going over the word limit, but if you're planning on going into a game in more depth than a few hundred words would allow, consider making your own thread instead (see Vikingninja's Overwatch review as an example).
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AngryJellyfish
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Reviewed games:

Prisoner of Ice

Cthulhu Saves the World

Zork: The Great Underground Empire

Avernum 3

Elder Sign: Omens

Heroes of Might and Magic III

Dead in Bermuda

King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown (AGD Interactive version)

Renowned Explorers

The Longest Journey

Heroes of Might and Magic V

The Adventures Of Ninja Nanny And Sherrloch Sheltie (April Fools review)

This Is the Police

Spirits

Driftmoon

Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos

Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender

Peggle

Entomorph: Plague of the Darkfall

We Know the Devil

The Pandora Directive

Zafehouse: Diaries

Guild of Dungeoneering

Under a Killing Moon

Stories Untold

Plague Inc: Evolved

Baldur's Gate

Democracy 3

The Forest of Doom

Thief Gold

Little Inferno

NightSky

Crusader Kings II

Championship Manager 2 (review by Rock Fan)

Hidden Folks

Christmas Stories: Nutcracker

Wizardry 8

Age of Wonders II: The Wizard's Throne

Caesar IV

Legend of Grimrock

The Incredible Machine 3

one night, hot springs

Orwell

Stonekeep

Sanitarium

Magic: The Gathering Arena

The King of Fighters 2002

Super Monkey Ball Deluxe (review by jonlovehead2)

Heaven Will Be Mine

Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure

Gorogoa

Lands of Lore II: Guardians of Destiny

Gray Matter

The Wolf Among Us
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AngryJellyfish
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Prisoner of Ice (1995) - Point-and-click adventure / horror, PC.

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Story: You play as an American Lieutenant on a submarine during World War II. Your crew rescues a Norwegian scientist from a Nazi base, and also recovers a couple of large crates. However, evil horrors emerge from these crates, killing your companions and threatening to sink the sub. If you survive long enough to escape, you must continue the battle against these 'Prisoners of Ice' across many different locations... and time periods.

Though it started off generic (monster awakens, player has to save the world), the large number of different locations made it interesting, and there was a nice plot twist in store later on once protagonist Lt. Ryan had gotten some more development and backstory.

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Gameplay: Most of your time is spent looking for and picking up items that may seem completely useless, but that you'll need at some point in the future. Some of these items might be only a few pixels wide, so good luck! And abandon all common sense, as each problem you come across will have one solution and one solution only, and it's usually ridiculous.

A Prisoner of Ice is walking towards you: do you hit it with an axe, hit it with a wrench, or play that tape recording you took of the delirious Norwegian scientist's mumblings after you hypnotised him with a medal? Timed encounters such as these were the most frustrating part of the game, because it gave you <20 seconds to make a move, and if you chose poorly, it was game over. Sometimes the solution isn't an item in your inventory, but something in the room that you must click. Or, maybe the item you kept selecting was the right one all along, but you had to 'examine' it instead of 'using' it. Fortunately, the game does autosave before each potentially deadly encounter, so you won't lose progress.

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I completed it in approx. 5 hours, most of which was spent finding items and dying in timed events. It isn't a long game. I found a 'longplay' on Youtube that completed it in ~70 minutes.

Controls: The entire game can be played with a mouse alone. Move the cursor to the top left of the screen to bring up the inventory. Hover over something to see what it is. Right click to examine, left click to talk to someone or use something. Simple stuff. Not the worst interface I've seen in a point-and-click game.

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Graphics: I'm aware I'm older than the site's average user. If you haven't played any games from the mid 90s before, this is going to look bad. Compared with other games of its time period though, it didn't look bad at all. Some of the static cutscene art was fantastic... though the animated 'Bad End' cutscene that played whenever you got killed by one of the Prisoners of Ice was more hilarious than scary – I think it was their lack of teeth more than anything.

Overall: Not bad, but given the length, I'd suggest waiting until its on sale. 6/10
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Unintentionally keeping with the Lovecraftian theme (I swear, I'm picking these at random from a pool of ~100 games):

Cthulhu Saves the World (2010) - RPG, PC.

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Story: After eons of slumber, the Great Old One known as Cthulhu awakens to wreak havoc on the planet... until some random wizard seals away his powers. He can only undo this curse by changing his ways and becoming a hero in this JRPG-like game world, rescuing villages, clearing dungeons and defeating other Eldrich Horrors.

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As you may have guessed, this is not a serious game, parodying both the Cthulhu mythos and generic JRPGs. Quests all consist of 'go there, kill that, gain hero points', so don't expect a gripping storyline. What makes this worth playing is the humour, mostly arising from the ridiculous chats between Cthulhu and the wacky party members you'll recruit along the way.

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Gameplay: Do you like mazes, and hours of grinding? If not, this might not be the game for you. In order to get from the entrance to the boss at the top/bottom, you have to work your way through endless winding corridors, all the while hoping that the path you've taken doesn't lead to a dead end. These mazes get larger and more complex as the game progresses, introducing things such as locked gates and one-way conveyor belts to frustrate you further. Though the dungeons look open and empty, every few steps your screen will flash, and you'll find yourself battling a group of monsters. Again, plenty of humour to be found thanks to their ridiculous names and/or descriptions.

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Combat is your usual turn-based JRPG style. Party members have HP and MP – the former is restored after each battle, so don't worry about leaving your party near-death if you're confident you can defeat an enemy next turn. Conserving MP, however, is one of the biggest challenges the game throws at you. You regain a little after each battle, but barely enough to cast one spell. There are no mana potions, only full restore potions which are rare and worth holding onto. So if you're using up all your MP on the first few encounters in a dungeon, consider leaving and grinding until you can clear them with physical attacks alone. Fortunately, the game is kind enough to offer full-restore points before each of the boss fights.

This game was also short, taking me approx. 6 hours... but for an indie game you can pick up for £1.99 on Steam (bundled with another game, at that!), it's good value for money IMO.

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Controls: Basic keyboard controls, you could use either WASD or arrow keys for movement, Return for most actions etc. Holding Left Shift let you run, or use Caps Lock to auto-run (may cause dizziness). The only thing that bugged me was that the escape key only gave you the option to quit – saving etc was located in the inventory screen. I nearly lost my progress a couple of times due to that!

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Graphics: 16-bit-style graphics for the ultimate retro JRPG feel. I grew up playing such games, and though it does obviously look a lot more polished and high-definition, it definitely brought on the same feelings of nostalgia.

Overall: Short, basic, but a lot of fun. Great soundtrack, too. 6/10
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AngryJellyfish
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And now, an old game even by my usual standards...

Zork: The Great Underground Empire (1980) - Interactive fiction, PC.

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Story: “You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here”... and from there onward, the story is in the player's hands. This is a text-based adventure game, and your character can take virtually whatever action you want them to. Apart from dance.

But assuming you want to win the game, you must explore the eponymous 'Great Underground Empire' (once you've found your way in), grab any treasures you find there, and put them in a trophy cabinet before the wandering thief steals them from you. Find all nineteen to win. How hard can that be?

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Gameplay & Controls: I'm combining these two categories, since for text-based adventure games they're largely the same thing.

The first time you arrive in an area, Zork will describe it to you, mentioning all objects, items, creatures and passageways that you can see around you. You choose what to do next. The temptation is to grab everything (which you do by typing 'take ITEM' ), but the game has REALLY restrictive inventory limits, so management is key. Take what you (think you'll) need, but don't forget where you leave items that could be important later on!

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Then, there's choosing what to do with the things you encounter. Like that garlic you find early on. While you MIGHT want to keep hold of it for later, Zork is more than happy to let you type 'eat garlic' instead. This action is one of many that will leave the game unwinnable... but rather than tell you that, it continues as normal until you reach the part where you really need that garlic. Trial and error is a big part of Zork, so be prepared to restart or reload a lot.

You move to other areas by typing North, South, East or West... or Southeast, or Northwest, occasionally Up or Down... the game feels like a labyrinth at times. And it contains two actual mazes as well, so good luck navigating those! There is of course no map on screen; the manual suggests you draw your own. If you do this, make sure you have a big piece of paper, or it could get messy.

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Most of the time, I found giving commands to Zork easy. There were a few times where I got frustrated because I was using the wrong words, or using them in a way the game couldn't understand, but it's pretty intelligent.

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I have yet to complete this game. I got lost in a maze twice, killed by a cyclops once, and rage-quit after the thief stole my treasures more times than I can remember. I have a feeling that I never will complete it, without following a step-by-step walkthrough. But rather than do that, or spend all year playing nothing else, I'll move on until I feel I'm ready to challenge the Great Underground Empire again.

Graphics: Absolutely none. But, the text is nice and easy to read!

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Overall: Very difficult, but very enjoyable, I'd recommend you give it a go (which you can do for free here). 7/10
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Avernum 3 (2002) - RPG, PC. Note: this is a remake of the 1997 game Exile III, and is itself getting a remake this year as Avernum III: Ruined World.

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Story: The surface of the planet is ruled over by a single Empire. Said Empire discovers a vast network of underground caverns, and banishes anyone the Emperor doesn't like (criminals, overly-powerful mages, non-human races, even gay people) into these caverns, the land that eventually becomes known as Avernum.

These outcasts band together, build their own civilisation, kill the Emperor (in Avernum 1), befriend some aliens (in Avernum 2) - and now, they want to return to the surface. You play as a party of (up to) 4 characters whose job is to exit the caves, gather information and report back to your commander. But all is not well on the surface, to the point where civilians are even willing to turn to a bunch of Avernite escapees for help...

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Gameplay: First, create your own party! Choose from several pre-made classes (Fighter, Rogue, Mage, Cleric, Archer etc), or create your own. There are three races to pick from: Humans, Nephilim (cat people) and Slithzerikai (lizard people). The non-human races come with bonus traits, but at a cost: many people on the surface don't like them, and will be less friendly towards your party at best, or attack on sight at worst. Which is why I always play with at least one Nephil or Slith, because it makes the game more interesting.

As with most RPGs, you are assigned quests by various characters – on top of the main quest, there are many optional side quests. Talk to characters, because there's tons of dialogue in the game, and it's very well written. Explore, as you never know what treasures you'll find. But, don't get TOO distracted, because the surface is under threat, and if you don't win within a certain amount of in-game days, who knows what kinds of disaster may occur...

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Combat is turn-based, with each character/mob given a certain amount of action points that they use to move, fight or defend. Walk next to an enemy and click them for basic melee attacks, or shoot spells or arrows from afar with the buttons at the bottom of the screen. Simple.

Controls: You can use the keyboard to navigate, but I find the mouse to be quicker and easier – just click in the direction you want to go, and your characters will move over there. For anything else (checking inventory, looking at current quests, checking what different spells do or what abilities your characters have etc), the buttons could be better labelled or laid out TBH, but you get used to them.

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Graphics and sound: This game was largely made by a single guy. Which given the size of it, the deep story and the world-building, is an impressive feat. But from an audio and visual point of view, it does show. There is no game music outside of the intro screen, and few, basic sound effects. Graphics look VERY basic for 2002. No animation, characters just shuffle from one point on the map to the next. I do like the sketches on the character screen, though!

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Overall: Can't fault this game plot-wise, and the gameplay isn't bad. If the visuals put you off, maybe try the recent Avernum remakes. 8/10
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Since my current game is taking a while to complete, here's one I played earlier (and was happy to revisit today). Yep, more Lovecraft. :p:

Elder Sign: Omens (2013) - Board game, PC.

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Story: Bad stuff is happening. Your job is to stop it, by defeating whichever Eldrich Horror is responsible. Most of the levels are set in the same museum, but higher difficulty levels see you travel to places such as Cairo or Alaska in search of your enemy. Given that this is just an adaptation of a board game, you can't expect much more in terms of plot!

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Gameplay: You start off by picking an Ancient One to face off against. All the usual suspects are present, from Hastur to Cthulhu. Each one comes with a handy difficulty level indicator. Then, you pick four adventurers, each with different skills and abilities that will be of more use against some enemies than others. Or for a real challenge, hit the randomize button and play with whatever team it gives you!

In the simplest terms, your goal is to get X amount of Elder Signs and seal the horror, before you get Y amount of Doom tokens and the world ends (X and Y vary depending on the foe in question, with higher difficulties usually having a less favourable ratio for the player). You get these Elder Signs and other nice loot by completing 'Adventures'. These require you to roll a certain amount of special dice – if you roll the right things first time, you're in luck; otherwise, you must re-roll with one less die. When you have no die left to roll, bad stuff happens.

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Some Adventures are easier than others, but harder ones carry the greatest rewards. Fortunately, you can see what all the Adventures involve and what you'll get if you win/lose, so pick whichever you think is best (or least bad) for your current character and situation. There are a few Adventures that you'll want to clear ASAP, though – for as long as they're unresolved, they might limit the number of dice you have available, or add to the bad stuff that happens at midnight (more on that shortly).

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After all four of your characters have taken a turn, the clock strikes midnight... and more bad stuff happens. Could be more Doom tokens, taking you a step or two closer to failure, horrible monsters who make Adventures harder to complete, or hits to characters' health/sanity. Or occasionally (especially when playing lower difficulty levels)... nothing happens.

A lot of the game is down to luck of the dice – sometimes, it will just screw you over no matter how well you play. But if you pick the right team, complete the right Adventures and hold onto the right items for the final battle (if there is one – higher difficulties only), you'll certainly increase your chances of success.

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Controls: All mouse-based – you click Adventures to select them, click to roll dice, drag and drop the dice you want to use etc. Given that the game originally came out for iOS mobile devices, this isn't a big surprise. There are keyboard shortcuts for most things if you prefer, though.

Graphics: It's a board game, so there's not much to animate. The art for the characters, monsters and Adventures is very nice though. And it's all HD, unlike most of the games I review here.

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Overall: VERY difficult, often frustrating, but quick and addictive. 8/10
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AngryJellyfish
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Still stalling for time while I finish off Avernum 3, so here's one of my favourite games ever:

Heroes of Might and Magic III (1999) - Turn-based strategy, PC.

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Story: The King of Erathia is dead, and various evil/chaotic forces plot to invade and expand their territory. Meanwhile, his daughter calls for allies and fights back to protect her homeland.

Throughout the course of the game's seven main campaigns (excluding the bonus and expansions), you get to experience events from each side, playing as all of the eight wonderful factions.

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In addition to the main campaign, this game comes with TONS of stand-alone maps, some of which have fantastic stories of their own.

Gameplay: Most levels start you off with a low-level hero, an undeveloped town and few (if any) resource buildings. Your priorities should be to explore the surrounding area, manage your resources, grab nearby artifacts or treasures, purchase essential buildings in your town, recruit troops, then set out to conquer the rest of the map (or whatever else your win condition might be).

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Each of the factions has different creatures, starting from the weaker level 1 troops (imps, gremlins etc) and going up to the mighty level 7s (dragons, hydras etc). Some are fast, others slow. Some can use ranged attacks to smash opponents from afar. Some have really neat special abilities. Suffice to say, the differences between factions are more than just cosmetic, so you'll want to use a different strategy when playing as (or playing against) each.

Heroes come in two flavours: Might (whose creatures get buffs to offence and defence) and Magic (whose creatures are weak, but backed up by deadly spells... assuming they've learned them first). Heroes can learn a number of different skills as they level up. They can equip many artifacts to provide further buffs. Again, all this opens up a large number of tactics and play-styles.

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And then, there's the adventure map itself... so many buildings to visit, so many treasures to collect, so much flavour text to read. The first few turns in a new game will leave you spoilt for choice as to what to do next! Different terrains speed up or slow down your movement. Water serves as a barrier between different parts of the map, unless you have a boat/the right spells. All things to bear in mind when planning your next moves.

Controls: Use the mouse for everything: to move your hero around the map, click different buildings, drag and drop troops from your town garrison into your hero's army etc. All very straightforward and easy. Buttons are well-labelled and easy to click.

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Graphics and sound: The music, composed by Paul Anthony Romero, Rob King and Steve Baca, has always been one of the best things about this game for me. Each faction has its own theme, which fits the towns so well. The battle music is brilliant. Sound effects from buildings as you approach them on the adventure map make it all feel so alive.

As for the graphics, the adventure map is 2D, top-down, board game-like... but again, really pretty due to the multitude of different buildings and terrains. Towns are also 2D, and start off looking basic and boring, but once you've developed them a bit they're amazing. And for those who need things in HD, a remastered version exists – though sadly it doesn't include the expansions.

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Overall: I can't fault it. 10/10
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AngryJellyfish
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Dead in Bermuda (2015) - Management, PC

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Story: A plane runs into trouble over Bermuda, and crashes. There are eight survivors, who find themselves on a desert island. They must now work together to stay alive, explore the island, and eventually find some way of escaping.

Gameplay: The majority of the gameplay occurs at the campsite, where you must assign tasks to each of the eight survivors. The priority is to ensure that they do not starve... or die from depression, exhaustion, sickness, injury, lack of water... you have a lot of things to worry about! In the early stages, you can have one survivor raid the plane wreckage for food and supplies, but that won't last forever, so other characters should be busy researching ways to get their own resources.

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Characters have different strengths and skills (Crafting, Exploration, Fishing, Cooking, Medicine etc), which you can see in their profiles, so pick the right people for the right tasks! And remember to prioritize – a certain amount of exploration is needed early on to get key items, but tempting as it may be to keep searching for a means of escape, you don't want to spend too much time on this until your camp can fend for itself.

Keep an eye on those fatigue and depression meters too, and send people to rest by the fire when necessary. Ensure they're well fed, use medicine to treat wounds and sickness. The higher those negative bars creep, the less efficient characters will be at the tasks you assign them. Hungry survivors will find less food, and you'll be forced to make your characters work longer and harder just to get the bare minimum resources... before you know it, you're in an inescapable death spiral.

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There is one other danger – the people, and their relationships with each other. You can manipulate this to an extent, by choosing who works with who on each task. However, every night a random event will happen. Maybe the paranoid Jacob is turning characters against each other, or perhaps food supplies have been disappearing, and everyone's eyes are on the big-boned Bob... you have no control over these. If characters grow to hate (or even love!) each other too much, it may not end well for one of them.

Of course, you don't NEED all eight to survive in order to win the game, technically one would be sufficient. But you'll really struggle to gather everything you need with less than 6-7. And, it doesn't truly feel like winning, at least not to me.

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Controls: Another game that's entirely mouse-based, having also been released as a mobile game. Drag and drop survivors into different areas of the camp to perform different tasks. Drag and drop food onto them in the evening. There's not a lot else to it; very simple to learn, but VERY difficult to master.

Graphics and sound: Nice comic-style art; no real animation. The characters look the same whether they're fresh off the plane or (supposedly) on the verge of death from starvation and injury, shame they couldn't have added a few other models to reflect their changing stats. Music is alright... 'atmospheric' would be the word I'd pick. Certainly wouldn't rush out to buy the soundtrack.

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Overall: Another addictive but frustrating game, where luck plays a big factor. Certainly worth a look. 7/10
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Best New Years Resolution ever
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AngryJellyfish
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(Original post by SuperHuman98)
Best New Years Resolution ever
And a first reply after a month and a half of reviews! :cry2:
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(Original post by AngryJellyfish)
And a first reply after a month and a half of reviews! :cry2:
Shows that hard work and consistency, eventually pays off . I need to do start doing my book reviews in my reading blog, and I hope after A2 exams I will have time to start gaming again
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Only just come across this and whilst most of the games aren't exactly what I play, I'm almost tempted to give some of them a go after reading your reviews!
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(Original post by SuperHuman98)
Shows that hard work and consistency, eventually pays off . I need to do start doing my book reviews in my reading blog, and I hope after A2 exams I will have time to start gaming again
Many thanks, and good luck with the book reviews and A2 exams!

(Original post by 152mmOfDerp)
Only just come across this and whilst most of the games aren't exactly what I play, I'm almost tempted to give some of them a go after reading your reviews!
Glad you liked them.
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I've not heard of any of these, but Zork looks like something I might play because I like text-based games. I tend to play indie games, or more popular ones like Grant Theft Auto: Online - this is how I usually make friends at school and try to seem topical. Sadly, all the "cool" kids (aka the ones that are always doing probably illegal stuff) use XBOX while I use a PS4 and a PC.
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(Original post by ER-13)
I've not heard of any of these, but Zork looks like something I might play because I like text-based games. I tend to play indie games, or more popular ones like Grant Theft Auto: Online - this is how I usually make friends at school and try to seem topical. Sadly, all the "cool" kids (aka the ones that are always doing probably illegal stuff) use XBOX while I use a PS4 and a PC.
That's understandable, from this list only HoMM3 and Zork could have ever been considered 'big' games, and that was decades ago in both cases. :p: I also play a lot of indie stuff (they're usually cheap, and usually run on my low-spec PC regardless of how new they are), but no online games due to poor internet speeds. :moon:
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King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown (AGD Interactive version) (2001-2009) - Point-and-click adventure, PC.

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Story: The kingdom of Daventry is suffering, so the elderly king summons his greatest knight, Sir Graham (the player character), and instructs him to find three magical items. If Sir Graham is successful, he will be crowned the new king!

Gameplay: Much like Zork, that I reviewed a few weeks ago, your goal is to search the vast game map for treasures, with each one raising your score. The major difference between Zork and King's Quest I is the advantage of being able to see where you're going and what you're doing – in fact, the original 1984 KQ1 was the first adventure game to feature an animated character and scenery!

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The lands of Daventry will present you with a number of puzzles, obstacles and hidden items to be uncovered. Most of what you'll see is borrowed from fairy tales, so bear that in mind when facing trolls on bridges, or deciding what to do with a handful of magic beans.

King's Quest I is not a long game, if you know it well – 'longplays' on Youtube manage to complete it in an hour. But first time around, it'll take you far longer due to your frequent deaths, struggles to find necessary items, and lack of any idea where you're supposed to be going.

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One final thing that KQ1 has in common with Zork: it's possible to leave the game unwinnable by using an item incorrectly (seriously, don't eat those magic beans!), or not possessing a key item after reaching a point of no return. And the game won't tell you that you're screwed, potentially leaving you searching for hours for a solution that isn't there. If this doesn't appeal to you, fear not – the AGD Interactive version gives you the option of disabling these dead ends.

Controls: You move from one scene to another by walking to the edge of the screen in whichever direction you want to travel. Most scenes allow you to go North, South, East or West, assuming there's no obvious hazard or barrier in the way. You CAN do this with the keyboard, but it doesn't allow much fine controlling, so unless you like walking off cliffs, stick to the mouse!

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Most other interactions require the mouse – you can 'look at', 'interact', 'talk to' or use any inventory item on anything you see by selecting the relevant icon and clicking on it. This is where the game gets particularly frustrating, as if your character isn't QUITE close enough to perform the interaction, or if your click is off by a pixel or two, it won't work... which often left me thinking that a solution to a puzzle (which turned out to be the correct one) was wrong.

Graphics and sound: While the art from the original KQ1 is very basic, almost MS Paint-style, the AGD Interactive version looks really nice and detailed (if low-res). It also adds voice acting and better sound effects, which certainly added to my enjoyment.

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Overall: An important piece of gaming history, which helped influence many of the later point-and-click adventure games that I love, updated for a newer generation of gamers. Basic plot, frustrating controls and unfair deaths mean it's far from perfect, but worth experiencing (especially since it's free)! 6/10
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AngryJellyfish
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Oh, and for anyone interested, the Avernum 3 remake that I mentioned in that review ended up being released about 10 days later! :p:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/69..._Ruined_World/
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Renowned Explorers (2015) - Turn-based strategy, PC.

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Story: You are a 19th century explorer, travelling the world in search of ancient treasures and new scientific discoveries, while also looking to gain as much money and fame as possible.

Gameplay: First, select a party of three explorers. There are four character classes: Scientist, Scout, Fighter and Speaker. Obviously you can't take one of each, so look at the characters' individual skills - some scouts may be more combat-oriented, and able to cover for a lack of fighter, for example.

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Then, your first expedition begins! Initially, all you can see is your starting location, a few locations adjacent to it, and the end goal (where the main treasure and a boss battle await) in the distance. It is up to you which route you take to get to the goal. Each step clears some of the fog to reveal more areas. Each area might have a treasure, or something worth studying for research points, or an event that might earn you some renown. Or, it could lead to a dangerous trap or an enemy encounter.

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Tempting as it may be to explore the whole map before taking down the location's boss, your party has a limited amount of supplies, and if you run out, your characters will suffer severely weakened stats in combat. Travelling from one area to another uses up anywhere from 0 to 3 supplies, so plot an efficient course from start to finish and grab as many goodies as possible along the way, but be prepared to leave some places unexplored.

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The 'combat' in this game is very unique, and quite complex. While the option to beat your opponents up is still there, you can also defeat them with words – befriend them, terrify them, impress them, anger them, each of your party members will have a speciality, and each opponent will be resistant to some methods and weak against others. Fortunately, you can preview how much 'damage' your 'attack' is going to do before committing to any of these.

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Completed your first adventure? Fantastic! You can then level up, pick new skills, buy new inventory items, recruit some helpers and entourage for additional perks... and tons more. Seriously, this stage can take as long as the explorations themselves, and is also quite complex. Then, you can study the world map to select your next expedition. You must explore 5 places (including the starting level), and aim to get your 'renown' level higher than that of your rival to win.

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Controls: Largely mouse-based. Left click to select your route while on expeditions, left click to pick from different actions or dialogue options. Right click to move while in combat, left click to attack – I like that, makes it harder to misclick and do something silly. TBH all the controls are clear and simple.

Graphics and sound: Bright and detailed cartoon-style artwork, nicely animated, and lovely character designs with multiple fun facial expressions to reflect their moods. The music is also great, certainly makes me think of 'exploration' and 'adventure' when I hear it.

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Overall: More than any other game I've reviewed so far, I've had to simplify this and leave a lot out. 500 words doesn't do it justice. Fun, unique, and challenging at harder difficulty levels. 9/10
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AngryJellyfish
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#20
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#20
The Longest Journey (1999) - Point-and-click adventure, PC.

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Story: It is the 23rd Century. Protagonist April Ryan has been having weird dreams about fantasy lands and dragons, dreams that feel almost too real. After these dreams start to spill over into reality, she learns from the mysterious Cortez that there is another Earth, the magical world of Arcadia, that was split off from her science-oriented world of Stark aeons ago. Dark forces are now working to upset the balance and merge the two Earths back into one.

As a Shifter naturally gifted with the ability to move between worlds, April must prevent this from happening by travelling back and forth between Arcadia and Stark, tracking down those responsible, collecting key items and fulfilling prophecies.

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The game's title is no exaggeration – The Longest Journey has one of the longest storylines I've ever seen in an adventure game, and came on 4 CDs back in the day! The writing is brilliant, the characters are fantastic and memorable, and the varied lands you'll visit prevent it from ever becoming boring. It is hilarious a lot of the time, but dark and serious where appropriate, and these changes in tone never feel forced.

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Gameplay: Your usual point-and-click fare, where you walk around talking to people to progress the story, selecting from many possible dialogue options. Pick up everything you see along the way (Discarded glove with a hole in it? Grab it!), then use these items to solve puzzles here and there.

Unlike older point-and-click games I've reviewed, The Longest Journey is forgiving. There are no dead ends or ways to screw up by misusing an item. A bit more friendly for more modern/casual gamers! The puzzles aren't horrendously difficult – if you find yourself struggling, perhaps you're missing an item somewhere? Alternatively, talk to people, or check your in-game diary, as they may provide some clues.

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More than half of The Longest Journey's game time is taken up by dialogue, which you can skip to complete it quicker... but don't do it, trust me! As I say, the writing is brilliant, and the story is where this game really shines.

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Controls: Point-and-click, so you won't need a keyboard for much besides shortcuts, or skipping dialogue (which again, you shouldn't do). Click on a person or object, and you'll be presented with a menu showing the various actions you can take (talk to, pick up, look at etc). Nice and easy. The inventory is simple to use, and is infinite, so no need for management or a discard option.

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Graphics and sound: The Longest Journey is VERY nice looking, for a game from 1999. Fantastic background art, decent animations and cut scenes. I'd say it still holds up today, but younger gamers may disagree.

The game music and ambient sounds are also very good, but what really stands out for me in the sound department is the voice acting. Every character is voiced, and those voices are superb. This really brings the dialogue to life.

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Overall: The Longest Journey was one of my favourite games as a child. Having revisited it now, it has lived up to the nostalgia. An absolute must-play for any adventure gamer. 10/10
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