The Night of The Rabbit Review

rabbit1
/ by Toddziak

Beware of the white rabbit! A certain Alice can vouch the fact that pale, dapper bunnies mean nothing but trouble. Apparently Jeremiah Hazelnut, the main hero of ‘The Night of the Rabbit’ (the newest Daedalic Entertainment adventure game) wasn’t aware of that fact. Oh well, if someone wants to become a magician, just like Jerry, he or she needs to be prepared for weird stuff happening all around. Just be careful what you wish for…

 

 

The life of Jeremiah Hazelnut, a very curious and adventurous twelve-year-old boy, was rather ordinary, not to say boring. When we met him for the first time, the biggest worry in his life was that he had only two days of summer holidays left until school. Not giving in to the depression, Jerry decided to make the best of the remaining freedom. Fortunately, an odd and magical letter, containing a recipe for a strange ritual, that appeared in the postbox outside his home gave him just the perfect idea.

Little Jerry couldn’t have possibly known that the ceremony he performed would summon the famed Marquis de Hoto, the titular six foot tall rabbit clad in a purple coat, who nominates Jerry as the magician’s apprentice. Not only that, but the two of them travel into another world inhabited by very civilised mice, rabbits, squirrels, owls and all the sundries. During the course of the game, the boy has to not only learn spells and help the locals, but ultimately save all the interconnected worlds. Not a small feat for Jerry… and the player.

 

TNOTRscreen01_en-copy

 

The story in ‘The Night of the Rabbit’ unfolds at a very slow pace. Some people might be bothered that at the beginning not much happens, we’re burdened with tasks verging on “bring this, bring that, take care of this” as we run around the city of Mousewood, getting to know its enchanted population a little better. I didn’t mind too much, though, because after initial languidness, the plot eventually thickens. Despite being a production aimed primarily at the younger demographic, the game is not as light-hearted as it may seem at first glance. It never becomes overly consumed in angst and the humour is always there to lighten the mood, but you definitely cannot brush off the whole plot as childish and without any depth. Just play the game yourself to see what I mean.

 

Many developers of recent adventure games want to make their title stick out from the crowd by introducing some ground-breaking changes to the interface, at the same time making it very user-unfriendly. Not Daedalic Entertainment, thank God. ‘The Night of the Rabbit’ is a fully-fledged point’n'click game with easy controls. Everything can be done by mouse, opening the inventory included (just scroll the mouse wheel).

 

the-night-of-the-rabbit-pc-screenshot-03

 

Speaking of inventory, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen one so aesthetically pleasant and cleverly done. Apart from the usual set of gathered items, we can also see there is a magical coin, used to highlight the hotspots and invisible items, and a few spells that we learn in the course of the game. They become handy when ,for instance, we need to talk to a statue or make a plant grow faster. The game’s help is also available as a mean of a spell named Advice Seeker. Upon casting it, the Marquis drops a hint. The thing is, this help is not overly helpful and more often than not we found ourselves hopelessly stuck.

 

The ‘Night of the Rabbit’ is certainly a demanding game in terms of puzzles. There are no manual challenges like jigsaws, but it doesn’t mean that we’ll just breeze through this adventure without seriously racking our brains. It’s crucial to remember that Mousewood is, in fact, a magical realm and many laws of logic or physics, to which we are accustomed, simply don’t work there. That’s why to solve many puzzles we need to think in a very ‘outside of the box’ kind of way. It’s hard to get bored though when the creators have prepared so many achievements to collect and so many optional objects to find: dewdrops, stickers and even audiobooks with fairy tales. You can’t forget about the game of cards called quartet. We can play it optionally with most of the NPCs we encounter. Taking all of this into account, it takes many, many hours filled to the brim with fun to actually finish the game.

 

rabbit4

 

Beating it is even more enjoyable, as we consider the audiovisual side of the game. Daedalic Entertainment is famous for their gorgeously drawn 2D graphics and the studio didn’t let its fans down this time either. The animation was also great and the cut-scenes, though not very frequent, nicely done. The same with the music, that of which built the atmosphere masterfully. I can still hear the main theme in my mind when I close my eyes. I can’t really complain about the dubbing either, since the English cast did a great job on this one.

 

All in all, The Night of The Rabbit is worth recommending to all adventure game enthusiasts, but maybe even people new to the genre can get mesmerised by this production’s undeniable charm. Just give it a chance, you won’t regret it. And excuse me now, I have a certain rabbit to follow.

 

 FINAL SCORE: 8,5/10

 

Pros:

+ A long and entertaining adventure

+ Intriguing plot with more depth than you expect

+ Gorgeous graphics and beautiful music

 

Cons:

- Help is not really helpful

- Slow beginning

Allons-y, or The Games Are Cool: The List of All Officially Published Doctor Who Games

The-Eleven-Doctors-doctor-who-18277364-1280-800.jpg
/ by Toddziak

Allons-y, or The Games Are Cool: The List of All Officially Published Doctor Who Games

by Toddziak


My fellow Whovians, it is time to rejoice! The 50th anniversary draws nigh! I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it hard to contain her excitement and wait patiently till November to see David Tennant repeating his performance as The Doctor. We still have several months ahead of us and there’s no better way to make the time pass faster than computer games, right? Preferably, appropriately themed games. Behold now the list of all the official video games where you can meet the most famed Gallifreyan with his faithful TARDIS. Pick your favourites and have a wibbly-wobbly jolly good time!

 

CLASSIC WHO:

classic-who-logo

In this section the fans of the classic series and The Doctors from the First up to the Eighth can look for some entertainment. Most of those game are ancient by today’s standards, but time is not the master of Whovians, right?

 

Doctor Who: The First Adventure

doctorwhofirst

Let’s start at the beginning, namely the first licensed game, which was released in 1983 on BBC Micro. We’ll accompany there the Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davidson, on his quest to save the universe once again. To do that, he needs to go through four chapters, each being a mini-game based on popular production of the early eighties. And so “The Labyrinth of Death” is a Pac-Man variation, “The Prison” is similar to Frogger, and “Terrordactyls” and “The Box of Tantalus” are clones of Space Invaders and… Battleships respectively. The game had little plot and was of rather poor quality, so it wasn’t overly popular. Still, nowadays many collectors would pay a small fortune to acquire their own copy. Search your attic, maybe you’ll get lucky?

 

Doctor Who and The Warlord

Doctor_Who_and_The_Warlord

Doctor Who and The Warlord is a second licensed game in the franchise, released in 1985 on BBC Micro. There were plans to develop also a ZX Spectrum version but they never came to pass. This time it is a text adventure where we play as a companion to The Doctor (unspecified which regeneration, but presumably the Sixth). The game is divided into two parts and to move to the second we need to obtain a password. In the first half we are pursuing The Doctor on an exotic planet in the future that is full of androids, interstellar gypsies and dangerous King Varangar’s guards. Using every means possible, we need to pick up necessary objects or pieces of information while solving puzzles and not getting into too much trouble on the way. The second chapter of the game brings us to a completely different scenery – the Battle of Waterloo where we need to take down not only Napoleon but also titular Warlord. Each part boasts 250 different locations, which is quite impressive. Still, the game wasn’t a commercial success and is really hard to find nowadays. Again, no luck for Whovians.

 

Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror

Doctor_Who_and_the_Mines_of_Terror

Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror, released in 1985 on BBC Micro and in 1986 on Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64, did not follow into the adventure footsteps of its predecessor. This time the game is a side-scrolling platformer with the Sixth Doctor as a protagonist. Funny enough, originally it was supposed to be a sequel to a very successful Castle Quest, the BBC Micro hit, but instead it was converted into a Doctor Who production mid-development. Maybe it should have stayed that way, since the game, sadly, wasn’t particularly well-received and contributed to Micro Power’s bankruptcy. Anyway, The Doctor faces here a difficult task of stopping The Master from building a TIRU (Time Instant Reply Unit), which would enable him to control the time. Fortunately, The Doctor is not alone on a mission. Splinx, a female programmable robot cat, is his faithful companion capable of performing simple tasks like fetching or carrying items. Just like in other platformers, we’ll need to climb ladders, jump over obstacles and press various switches. To make it harder, The Doctor can die in a plethora of horrible ways: he can fall from some height, suffocate, be impaled on spikes or be killed by a monster. The game certainly has its charm and though it’s also not easy to get, there are some gameplays on youtube you can watch to enjoy the experience.

 

Dalek Attack

dalekattack

The next game features one of the best known Doctor’s adversaries – The Daleks and their creator, Davros, as the final boss. The game was released in 1992 on PC, Commodore 64, Amiga and Atari St and later in 1993 on ZX Spectrum as a response to the fans’ demand. What’s interesting, is that each version differed slightly. You could play as different Doctors, ranging from the Second, Fourth, Fifth and Seventh. A second player took control of one of the Doctor’s companions (either Ace or the Brigadier) in the co-op mode. The Doctor’s faithful robo-dog K-9 also makes a cameo. The game itself is very Contra-like – The Doctor obliterates his enemies with lasers and grenades in order to prevent the Daleks from invading the Earth. The premise is quite bizarre, indeed, as The Doctor is not generally keen on violence. Anyway, the game was reportedly insanely difficult and got rather poor reviews. Fun fact: the developer wanted to sue Amiga Power magazine for their unfavourable verdict on Dalek Attack. They used the argument that a few fans of the TV series claimed that the game was brilliant and was the best production ever made. Apparently, that wasn’t convincing enough for the jury.

 

Doctor Who: Destiny of the Doctors

Doctor-Who destiny

Destiny of the Doctors, published in 1997 on PC, is the last Classic Who game and traditionally it wasn’t well acclaimed, getting mixed at best or plainly negative reviews. It’s a pity, since the premise of the game is very interesting. It includes all the regenerations of the Doctor (up to the Seventh, even though the game was released after the film featuring the Eighth) and his nemesis, The Master (the last appearance of Anthony Ainley before his death). We play here as Graak, a psychic energy jellyfish-like creature created by the Fourth Doctor. The Master has imprisoned all seven Doctors and plans to wipe them out from the Universe once and for all. It is now up to Graak to stop the evil scheme. To do that, the brave critter needs to find all the incarnations using the TARDIS, solve various puzzles and defeat some of the most formidable Doctor’s enemies: Daleks, Cybermen, Autons, Silurians, Sontarans and many more. The game features 3D graphics and the voices of all the actors portraying the Doctor who were still alive at the time of production. Hardly the best game in the universe, but definitely has its charm. It’s still playable, despite having some compatibility issues on newer systems.

 

NEW WHO

Doctor-who-logo-ten

The games that accompany the newest series are obviously more easily available than the old ones. Perhaps you have even played them at some occasion. If not, here’s the list. It’s time for adventure.

 

Top Trumps: Doctor Who

top2

The first New Who game and the only one featuring David Tennant as The Doctor (shame) was released on PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, PC and Wii in 2008. As the name indicates, it’s a computer adaptation of the well-known card game. Each player has a deck of cards and the goal is to win all the cards of the other player. The player picks one of the statistics on a card and compare it against the opponent’s card. Whoever has the higher score is the winner of the duel. The game allows us to meet many characters from the Doctor Who universe, including everyone’s favourite Captain Jack Harkness, Martha Jones and such adversaries as The Daleks, Cybermen or Slitheen. You can play against the AI or another player as well as take part in four minigames. Top Trumps uses the cartoonish animation style, which may not appeal to everyone, but the reviews were generally positive. It’s a fun game to occupy you for a day or two.

 

Doctor Who: The Adventure Game

DoctorWhoThe-AdventureGames-Tardis

The first game featuring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Karen Gillian as his companion, Amy Pond, was released in 2010 on PC and Mac. Like the name suggests, it’s an adventure game comprising five episodes in total and divided into two series. The first one includes four episodes: “City of the Daleks” in which Doctor and Amy visit alternate London of 1963, now in ruins due to the Dalek’s invasion; “Blood of the Cybermen” where Cybermen are stirring up trouble in an Arctic base and need to be stopped; “TARDIS” seeing the monster on board of the time machine, and “Shadows of the Vashta Nerada” in which Christmas Eve turns up to be a bit too eventful when The Doctor and Amy need to face an alien shark, radiation and on top of that the deadly Vashta Nerada. The second season sadly has only one episode, “The Gunpowder Plot” that sees The Doctor, Rory and Amy saving the Parliament from two hostile alien races. The series was cancelled because of budget cuts and the team went on developing The Eternity Clock. The games are far from perfect and have some gameplay issues, but the stories are interesting and if you enjoy Eleventh’s quirky adventures, you should definitely give them a chance.

 

Evacuation Earth/Return to Earth

doctor-who2

 

Even though those two games were released in 2010 on different platforms (Evacuation Earth for Nintendo DS and Return to Earth for Wii), they are essentially part of the same adventure. The first one concentrates on the Silurians, the Daleks and the mortal danger that threatens the Earth (again), whereas the other sees The Doctor and Amy saving human colony ship from the evil clutches of Cybermen. What both games had unfortunately in common was the poor quality. Both were panned by the critics, some of them even claiming that the best part of the Wii edition was the Wiimote resembling The Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver. I can’t really recommend those production unless you’re a die hard Whovian, able to swallow anything with a bow tie.

 

Doctor who: The Mazes of Time

mazes-of-time-angels-in-the-shadows

The first game available on iPhone, iPad and Android, which was also released in 2010. Unlike its predecessors, this production received warmer welcome from the reviewers, most of them deeming it overall enjoyable albeit occasionally frustrating due to troubles with controls. The Doctor and Amy receive a distress call from one family’s spaceship. It turns out that it was boarded by a Dalek, pursuing a time engine. A terrible disaster occurs, sending all family members through time and space and it’s up to the Doctor and his companion to save them. The Mazes of Time is a puzzle driven game where we need to overcome obstacles while relying on different abilities of the both characters we control. For instance The Doctor can push boxes around and Amy can squeeze through narrow passages. On their way, our heroes must be wary of various adversaries like Cybermen, Daleks or Silurians. Consider buying this game if you have a phone and a lot of boring lectures to attend.

 

Doctor Who: Worlds in Time

DoctorWhoGame

The first ever browser based MMORPG in the history of Doctor Who was released in March 2012 and exists up to this day. It’s also free to play (though you can buy some enhancements for real currency thanks to micropayments), so nothing prevents you from starting an adventure of your own. You assume a role of The Doctor’s companion from one of four races and your task is to perform missions, both plot-driven and sidequests, based on series of minigames like lockpicking or hacking. Other players can join you, improving the social aspect of the game. Due to it’s overall simplicity, plethora of customization options (new clothes, stuff to buy to your TARDIS room) and very childish graphics, Worlds in Time will bring most joy to the younger generations of Doctor Who fans. Still, if you feel young at heart, go for it!

 

The Eternity Clock

gaming_doctor_who_eternity_clock_mosnters_1

The Eternity Clock is the newest game on the list and the only one featuring The Doctor along with River Song. Released in 2012 on PlayStation 3, Vita and PC, it’s a sidescrolling platformer, in which we have to save the Earth from destruction by finding the pieces of the titular Eternity Clock scattered through time and space. The game offers co-op mode where one person is playing as the Doctor and the other takes role of River, whereas in the single player we can switch between both characters. The Eternity Clock, again, got rather mediocre reviews (is this the curse of Timelords?), mainly due to technical issues. However, the team released an update, which fixes several bugs and makes the game more playable. The Eternity Clock was planned as the first episode of the series, but the lukewarm reception didn’t bode well for the future. So far there is no information regarding the continuation.

 

The list of all the official Doctor Who games available comes to an end. Pity though that most of them are hardly an enjoyable experience. Hopefully, the franchise will regenerate soon and bring us a production that will be as much fun to obsessed Whovians like to the rest of gamers. Maybe something will pop up for the Anniversary? Holy TARDIS of Gallifrey, make it so!

 

 

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Episode 3: The Oracle Review

Cognition logo
/ by Toddziak

It’s the third time we’re meeting Erica Reed, a red-headed FBI agent with a fiery temperament and a knack for chasing serial killers. Two previous episodes had their fair share of faults, but the story was always among the best elements of the whole series. It’s no different in The Oracle, which has an engaging plot that twists and turns in many directions. True, many of these directions could have been predicted, but it doesn’t change the fact that with each passing chapter Cognition becomes more and more intriguing.

 

 

The Oracle begins exactly where The Wise Monkey ended. I’ll try to be very vague not to spoil the fun for all those, who haven’t played the series yet, but some delicate spoilers are unavoidable. Be warned and don’t hold me responsible for any physical or mental damage this text may cause.

 

If you have finished the previous chapter, you surely remember that at the very end a mysterious murdered, the titular Oracle, threw one specific person from the balcony onto the police car parked in front of a skyscraper. Splat! Neither the victim, nor the vehicle stood any chance. Erica, completely worn out from sitting by her friend’s bed in hospital, decides to visit the crime scene. However, instead of finding the whole CSI: Boston team bustling about, she sees there only one rookie guarding the perimeter. No police tape, no evidence collecting to speak of, no interviews with potential witnesses. Erica’s boss, who hangs around suspiciously, seems to be doing everything to cover the whole affair up. Just to make things worse, our partner, John, behaves strangely and it’s clear he’s hiding something. There’s no way that the stubborn agent will back off without figuring out what’s going on.

 

cognition3_recenzja_2

 

Using her paranormal abilities, Erica quickly discovers The Oracle’s true identity. Of course, I won’t tell you who he is. Still, not much of a surprise here. Anyway, the killer had chosen very appropriate nickname, since he… possesses supernatural skills as well! To be precise, he can predict the future which makes him an extremely dangerous opponent. Despite various inconveniences, the investigation is slowly progressing, finally giving us the answer to the most important question of them all – who is Cain, the murderer who slaughtered Erica’s brother. The last minutes of this episode will make us jump in our chairs like a suspenseful thriller, which word was after all put into the game’s title. Now at least we know why.

 

Generally, The Oracle seems better thought out than the previous episodes. Firstly, the action is more condensed and takes place in one single building along with its closest surroundings. Forget about senseless driving around the city while looking desperately for any progress. Secondly, dull NPCs have a really marginal role here, it seems that the developers completely gave up on them. In the centre of attention is Erica and her opponent, now closer than ever thanks to another thing, which distinguishes The Oracle favourably. I speak here of Erica’s newest ability, namely seeing the killer’s recollections. During those fragments, which constitute almost half of the game, we’ll play as the prospective murderer, getting to know his unpleasant memories and at least partially we’ll get to understand the motives for his bloody endeavours. The past and the present begin to mesh and influence one another, allowing us to crack the puzzles in both realities.

 

cognition3_recenzja_3

 

Speaking of intellectual challenges, there’s not too much of them in episode 3. Puzzles are nearly solving themselves and are based on using the items we gathered in designated spots and on utilising Erica’s special powers. Only one task demanded a little more thinking – opening the safe – but the clues you could find all around made it easy to deal with the problem. Still, in case of trouble, the game offers a hint system. You just need to send a text to Rose (who answers in place of papa Reed) and she will provide some enigmatic help. Usually, the reply is so enigmatic (like “keep searching”) that it’s hardly useful. Oh well. What bugged me more was that The Oracle is the shortest of all the episodes released so far. Beating it, without rushing anything and exploring the world thoroughly, takes approximately three to four hours. It’s not so bad for an episodic game, but comparing to the rest of Cognition, it’s rather disappointing.

 

Another disappointing issue is traditionally clunky animation (behold the protagonist’s gait) and the melodramatic way of expressing emotions. Sometimes Erica looks as if she was taking part in Hamlet’s school play and she wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be a parody or the real thing. You cannot really turn a blind eye to many bugs involving objects blending together. Fortunately backgrounds are pretty as always and save the honour of the game’s visual side. The music is once again enthralling. All the melodies brilliantly accompany the events on the screen, allowing us to take a breath or just mercilessly playing on our emotions. Raleigh Holmes, as Erica, is flawless and the rest of the cast is nothing special comparing to her. It’s not that they’re all terrible, but we won’t really remember them in T-minus five minutes after finishing the game.

 

cognition3_recenzja_1

 

Erica Reed’s tale is slowly coming to a closure. There’s only one episode left which – I hope – will provide a satisfactory ending, tying all loose threads. If it will be at least as good as The Oracle, I will remember Cognition fondly. I can’t wait to see the last chapter because the ending teases real emotional rollercoaster in the finale. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel too. Phoenix Online Studios, please consider.

 

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

 

Pros:

+ More consolidated, gripping story

+ Lack of pointless driving around Boston

+ Erica’s new power improves the gameplay

+ Great soundtrack

 

Cons:

- The shortest episode so far

- The hint system not really helpful

- Some graphical glitches

The Cave Review

the_cave_concept_art
/ by Toddziak

Some games stir up extraordinary hype from the moment of their announcement. One of them was certainly The Cave – the effect of a surge of inspiration by Ron Gilbert, the man responsible for Maniac Mansion and the Monkey Island series. Big name in the industry, interesting premise of mixing a platformer with an adventure game, the promise of a memorable story filled to the brim with humour… a perfect recipe for a masterpiece that will go down in history of gaming. Unfortunately, the reality did not live up to the high expectations. The Cave is a surprisingly bland production that did not utilize its full potential.

At the very beginning we meet the eponymous hero – the cave himself. He is an exceptionally sarcastic entity, giving us scathing comments from time to time with his deep, manly voice. During the short introduction we are informed that many a brave soul is prepared to venture on a journey down into the depths just to get what their hearts most desire. Near the entrance to the  Cave we see seven characters to chose from: The Knight, The Hillbilly, The Time Traveller, The Adventurer, The Scientist, The Twins and The Monk. While pointing at each of them we get a very short presentation of him/her and the description of what they are after. The game doesn’t tell us this explicitly, but we end up with a team consisting of three heroes, ready to go spelunking.

During the voyage, we find wall paintings, which upon activation show us the fragments of the character’s story. What’s more, each hero has a level devoted solely to him. As we get to know the plot more and more, it turns out that our teammates have a thing or two on their conscience and his/her desires are based to a large extend on hurting people one way or another. In theory, all of that sounds really interesting, but I have several problems with this game. For starters, all the stories are really predictable. After seeing one of them, we can easily guess how the others will end. My first one (and in my opinion, the most interesting) was the tale of the Knight which twisted the banal quest of getting the princess’s hand into something grotesque and clever. I was mildly interested also in the Twins and the Hillbilly’s misadventures, but I didn’t give a toss for the stories of the rest of the cast.

Cave1

That’s actually connected with the second gripe I have about the plot of The Cave. I found it really hard to become invested in the story and feel some sympathy towards the heroes, since they’re basically devoid of any personality. I understand that the characters were probably meant to be nothing more than a set of archetypes, just like in a medieval morality play, embodying various human vices. The intention didn’t succeed, though, because instead of an entertaining tale we get a bundle of boring clichés. It’s a real shame, because The Cave had a real potential in it. The humour does not save the day. Yes, I can’t deny that occasionally we get something truly funny. I was completely disarmed by the names given to the torches: Flamey-Wamey (Doctor Who, anyone?) or Ouchy-Burny Thing. The Cave himself often cracks some jokes, coloured heavily with irony, which usually serve also as a hint what we should do next. Still, most of the times I had a feeling that the game tries far too hard to make us laugh, and thus the result is quite the opposite.

Speaking of a different issue, lack of any sensible tutorial is quite painful. If I didn’t check the manual in the menu before launching the game, I wouldn’t know how to find my way around, not even speaking about using unique abilities each of the character has. Anyway, we can control the heroes either with the mouse (like in a more typical adventure game) or with the keyboard keyboard (platformer-type). For me, the latter was much more convenient but to each its own, I guess. We witness the whole action in a ant-farm perspective, seeing a large chunk of the level. We animate only one character at the time, but we can switch between chosen character at will. You have to do it quite often actually because only teamwork will guarantee success. I would really welcome the option to call the remaining members to us though, since they always stay behind, sometimes far away at the beginning of the level. The necessity to gather them manually is a real pain the butt.

the-cave-wide-screen-2

As I’ve mentioned before, each of the characters has a special, unique ability. For instance, the Time Traveller can phase through certain barriers and the Hillbilly can breathe under water. That’s why each playthrough is slightly different, since we can approach the problems from different angles. The problem lies specifically in the “slightly” part. Out of eight levels in the game, five always stay the same with the same puzzles to solve. The remaining three are specifically tailored for the characters that we chose. To get to know the whole story we have to beat the game three times, needing to get through the familiar, and thus boring, levels. True, the gameplay differs a little due to character’s abilities, but to be honest, outside their own levels, most skills are pretty much useless. Brace yourself then for a tedious backtracking, which is painfully discouraging. I didn’t feel like going to the Cave again. It may seem that having seven characters to chose from is a brilliant idea to increase the replayability, but the repetitiveness completely killed that concept.

The puzzles in The Cave are not really difficult, but they demand a little bit of thinking outside the box. For the most part they involve manipulation of the surrounding (like flipping switches or pushing boxes around) and using the items we can pick up on the way. Each character can carry one object at the time, but this restriction is not really that annoying. Well, unless you’ve been carrying a completely useless stuff for half the game, then you can began to rage. The game doesn’t really require any dexterity, which at the same time disqualifies it as a platformer, since the fans of the genre would be bored by the repetitiveness and lack of challenges to speak of. The only thing that needs a bit of fingery aptitude is the occasional synchronisation of our character’s endeavours, since many times we need to solve a puzzle in certain order to succeed. If we die in the process, no big deal. The Cave will resurrect us right away.

Cave3

In the graphics department, I can’t really complain about anything. The slightly cartoony backgrounds are really great and cleverly done. Pity that the gameplay itself is not as diverse as the visual side of the game. Especially impressive are the levels devoted to particular characters. Seeing a Victorian mansion or a Tibetan temple merged into a cave, is quite unusual but very pleasant sight. You cannot deny that the game boasts some really pretty scenery. Music though, doesn’t appear too often, but when it does, it fits to the mood. Usually we hear ambient noises, which build up the mood nicely. Occasionally the Cave himself speaks to the player and his voice is quite pleasant. Too bad though that our heroes never speak. I’m certain that the game would gain a lot if only the characters had some kind of depth.

What can I add further, really? The Cave disappointed me. I was expecting something ground-breaking, but instead I got a bland hybrid, which can’t satisfy neither the fans of adventure games nor those who love platformers. I treat The Cave as an unsuccessful experiment, which failed to turn the great premise into something interesting. If Ron Gilbert weren’t involved in this project, I’m sure The Cave would have gone practically unnoticed. Maybe the game does not deserve to be buried somewhere deep down in the dark corners of the Earth, but it’s really nothing to write home about. Still, if you get it on some kind of sale, feel free to check it out yourselves.

 

Final score:

5/10

 

Pros:

-        pretty graphics

-        it’s quite fun to play on the first take

-        seven characters with different abilities to chose from

 

Cons:

-        repetitiveness and backtracking

-        disappointing story

-        dull platformer elements

Slender: The Arrival Review

slender2
/ by Toddziak

Slender: The Arrival Review

Slender is now more than just a game, it’s a huge phenomenon. Slender: Eight Pages, a small, free survival horror published in 2012, gained a tremendous popularity and received rave reviews all around the Internet. Suddenly, Slender Man was everywhere – in let’s plays, in art, in fanfiction. The monster acquired even a group of devoted fangirls, squealing all the time how adorable he is (oh well, some people juggle geese). Anyway, it’s no wonder that the developer wanted to take advantage of this fad and decided to release a commercial sequel to his big hit. And thus Slender: The Arrival was born. Is it better and more terrifying than the original? No. Is it worth checking out anyway? By all means. Read on to see why.

One of the many things that was improved over the free version was adding some plot into the game. At the very beginning, after a rather creepy introduction, the fallen tree renders our car immobile in a forested and picturesque location in the middle of nowhere. Unexpectedly, it’s still broad daylight and everything looks beautiful and peaceful. Nothing bad could happen, right? Not right. As we move away from the vehicle, it’s getting darker and darker and we feel something ominous in the air. That’s never a good sign in a horror games. By the time we reach a house in the woods (not a cabin, but close enough), it’s already pitch black outside. After a bit of exploration we hear a blood-curdling scream in the distance and we need to check out what was that. Soon we live to rue that reckless decision as we pick up a sheet of paper, warning us against the lean and menacing monster with long limbs and a white face.

slender-the-arrival_promo_nov19_01

If you have played the original Slender, you’ll have no difficulty with figuring The Arrival out, since the main premise remains the same – collect eight pages and survive by running from the oncoming two-legged doom that chases you incessantly. However, pages are not the only thing we’re after. During the five levels the game has in store, we have to switch on six generators in a decrepit mine to power up the lift or close all the doors and windows in a house as soon as possible before Slender enters and chews our head off. That’s by far the most unsettling and unnerving part of the game. It  made me scream shrilly like a little girl at the sudden jumpscares, I kid you not. Whatever we do though, the mechanism remains the same at its core (find X of Y and don’t die in the process), but props for the developer for trying to, quite successfully if I may say, conceal that fact by adding some originality to the tasks. Still, the game’s main problem is its length. The free version of Slender can be beaten in around fifteen minutes if you are skilled enough, but the Arrival is not that much longer. I was quite disappointed when I finished it in a little above one hour. That’s ridiculously short for a commercial product. A few more levels wouldn’t go amiss. What’s more, I feel that the Arrival was much easier than the original. To find all the pages in the free version you had to be at least swift as a coursing river or possess skills of a Jedi Knight, whereas in the sequel I managed to do it on the first take. The same happened with the generators as well, to my big surprise. Admittedly, they spawn in random places, such unusual spots like a bathroom included, so maybe I was just lucky. But still.

Slender Man is not the only hellish creature that will hound us in the Arrival. During the mine level we encounter another monster – a woman called The Proxy. Her method of pursuit is quite different than Slender’s. She basically runs after us, not teleports erratically, and we can ward her off by directing the beam of light from our flashlight at her, which makes the crazed lady stop for a while. When she catches us, not everything is lost, since only the second tête-à-tête with her results in our death, forcing us to replay the level. To be honest, I didn’t find her particularly scary. She was by far more annoying and a nuisance than being a real opponent, sending shivers down our spine the moment we lay eyes on her. It’s nice that the game had another villain, but this one was certainly a failed attempt at creating horror. In general, the free version was more atmospheric and creepy. True, the sequel scared me a few times, but it wasn’t even nearly as disturbing as the original. Sometimes jumpscares are pretty shameless, for instance when Slender spawns right in our faces, leaving us very little time to react and get the hell out from him. This is certainly unfair and in a way spoils the  thrill of the escape. After all, what kind of a getaway it is, when our pursuers can just appear right in front of us, screaming “surprise”?

slender1

One thing that is undeniably better is the visual side. Even though the engine is the same, the Arrival boasts quite nice views. The forest by daylight is really stunning and the view from the mountain peak can be quite breathtaking. Interiors look slightly worse and occasionally we can see quite uninspiring textures, but in general the graphics is really good. The same with the audio. Every horror movie or game, relies heavily on sounds to create the right mood. The Arrival is not an exception. Without all the background noises or static when Slender comes close, this production wouldn’t be half as scary. Great job on audio, no doubt.

All in all, The Arrival has its faults and certainly is not perfect, but despite all that it’s still an enjoyable, though very short, game and one of the best horror games released during past few months. It can genuinely frighten you senseless. If you enjoyed the free version, certainly check out this title as well. But don’t come screaming if you have trouble sleeping afterwards.

FINAL SCORE: 6/10

Pros:

Can give you a few nice scares

Good graphics and sounds

 

Cons:

Ridiculously short

Not as terrifying as the original

Lame opponent in the mines

30 Best Text-Adventures/Interactive-Fiction Games Over 5 Decades

best text adventures interactive fiction
/ by Toddziak

30 Best Text-Adventures/Interactive-Fiction Games Over 5 Decades

by Toddziak


As gamers, we know perfectly well that the graphics is not everything that counts. The story, the immersion, the memorable characters – those are the things we really dig. So what would we get if we leave those and eliminate the visual side altogether (or almost altogether), relying just on text and our imagination? The answer is simple – interactive fiction (IF) aka text adventures! Even though this genre reached the peak of its popularity in ancient times of late 70′s and early 80′s, it has its devoted fans and supporters even to this very day. If you’re not afraid of figuring things on your own, typing your answers and reading walls of text, don’t hesitate to try the games on your own.  I decided to present you the thirty most interesting, at least according to me, titles in this genre. Hopefully, this lists of little gems will be helpful on your quest to discover interesting productions that will stir your imagination. Among the many types and kinds of stories everyone is bound to finding something special.

Our Adventure Hub:
-Top Ten Best PC Adventure Games
-Top 50 Modern-Day Adventure Games
-Top 25 Classic Adventure Games
-Top 25 Handheld Adventure Games
-Top 25 Console Adventure Games
-Top 10 Detective Adventure Games
-Top 10 Scariest Adventure Games
Best Visual Novels
Best Free/Casual/Online Adventure Games

 

Adventure

best text adventures interactive fiction adventure-1976

It’s only fitting to begin with the game that started everything. After all, the whole genre was named after it. The world-shattering breakthrough happened in 1976 when William Crowther wrote the game to cheer up his two young children after the divorce. It was the text-based production, involving an exploration of a cave, resembling the real Colossal Cave, but not free of supernatural elements like for instance dwarves. The game uses a verb-noun parser and only typing appropriate commands can save us from the impending doom of getting lost in a labyrinth or a surprise death that can occur without any previous notification. Since the game was released, it was changed and expanded numerous times by different authors, who added new challenges or rooms into it. Still, no matter the version, Adventure is a milestone in game development. It’s worth checking out if you feel nostalgic and despite the fact that it’s dated in so many ways, the playability didn’t suffer one bit.

Download or Play it Here

 

Planetfall

best text adventures interactive fiction planetfall

Some big quest have a very unheroic beginnings. In Planetfall, released in 1983, we play as Ensign Seventh Class serving on the S.P.S Feinstein – a starship of the Stellar Patrol. Instead of having daring and exciting adventures among the stars, we’re put in charge of mopping the deck. The fate, however, gives us a chance to prove ourselves when, after the catastrophe, our escape pod crashes on  a deserted planet. Finding an unlikely ally, a friendly robot called Floyd, we need to unravel the secret of the civilisation who suddenly abandoned their home. At least two things makes Planetfall memorable. The first one is certainly our sidekick, Floyd. He is the main source of humour in the game (for instance, when we make a save around him he says: “Oh boy, are we gonna try something dangerous now?”) but he’s not just a comic relief, we grow really attached to him over the course of the adventure. I’m pretty sure that Crispin from Primordia was largely inspired by Floyd. The other thing is a bit more controversial because the game is full of red herrings. Figuring out which items are actually useless and which puzzles unsolvable, is actually the part of the gameplay. Still, despite that all the fans of s-f genre should at least try and embark on a journey with Floyd.

 

 

Digital: A Love Story

best text adventures interactive fiction digital a love story

It’s not true that all interactive fiction require some serious dusting off before playing. Some of the productions are quite recent, like for instance Digital: A Love Story, which was developed by Christine Love and released in February 2010. Are you in a mood for a romance? You’d better be or else you’ll be missing on one of the best love stories in computer games history ever. Digital is set in the late 1980s when we assume the role of an unidentified protagonist, who just got his/hers computer for the first time. Soon we acquaint online a girl called Emilia and as we exchange messages with each other, the affection starts to bloom. Not everything goes smoothly though, because due to some malfunction of the host computer we cannot make any contact with her. What would a heartsick person do? Try to find her, obviously.

Digital: A Love Story is short (it takes about an hour to beat it), linear and doesn’t give us much freedom, since the game automatically sends messages – we do not influence (or even see) their content – but still it’s definitely worth recommending and playing. Try it out, especially if for some reason you feel leery of older games and still want to give interactive fiction a chance.

Download it Here

 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

best text adventures interactive fiction hitchiker's guide

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is a classic of British sense of humour and if you’re unfamiliar with the books then do yourself a favour and read them at once. You might also want to watch the movie or, even better, play the game. It was released in 1984 and Adams himself had his hand in it. The game follows loosely the story known from the books and once again everything begins with the destruction of Arthur Dent’s home. He is the protagonist, but the game allows us as well to play as Ford Prefect, Trillian or Zaphod Beeblebrox, so the fans of the originals should be pleased. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is notorious though for its difficulty level and generally being “mean” to the player. Some puzzles if not solved in an appropriate fashion, would infallibly result in not being able to beat the game at all. A walkthrough is thus recommended for less patient gamers. The ending also teases the sequel but it was never produced. Shame.

 Download or Play it Here

 

Varicella

best text adventures interactive fiction varicellaWho said that the protagonist of a game must be an honest man? Playing as a cunning scoundrel can be at least as much fun. Or maybe even more. Varicella, a game developed in 1999 by Adam Cadre, shows us an alternative history of the world, skilfully mixing together atmosphere and customs of Renaissance with fairly modern technology. We assume the role of eponymous Primo Varicella, who is the amoral Palace Minister at Palazzo del Piemonte. The king has recently died and the prince is too young to rule on his own, so a regent needs to be chosen. Of course, we want to hold that position and in order to do that we must eliminate other candidates. Permanently. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Great writing, lots of dark humour, the opportunity to be really nasty and above all, the ending makes Varicella a great, unparalleled experience. It’s one of the best interactive fictions ever created, hands down.

 Download it Here

 

Slouching Towards Bedlam

best text adventures interactive fiction slouchingtowards

If your life motto goes along the lines: “there’s no such thing as too much steampunk”, then Slouching Towards Bedlam is a perfect game for you. The highly praised title, which was created in 2003 by Daniel Ravipinto and Star Foster, is set in year 1885 in the Victorian London where magic is as easily encountered as steam-powered technology. We play here as Doctor Xavier, who works as … well, a doctor in Bedlam Asylum. Or so it appears, since we don’t have any recollections of the past. As the story progresses, we learn that we’ve been infected with a mysterious and deadly virus called “Logos”, which spreads by using speech. What’s really remarkable about this game is the amount of freedom we’re given. The game has several endings, which depend on the choices we’ve made during the playthrough. Adding to this very atmospheric narration, great setting and overall enjoyability of experiencing the game, Slouching Towards Bedlam can be recommended to anyone seeking a good and engrossing story.

 Download or Play it Here

 

Cypher: Cyberpunk Text Adventure

best text adventures interactive fiction Cypher_01

The newest game on the list and the one I had the pleasure of reviewing.  Long story short, Cypher is set in a cyberpunkish city called NeoSushi (formerly Tokyo…). We play here as Dogeron “Dog” Kenan, who works as a data-smuggler, which basically comes down to hiding some illegal information encoded on a chip inside his brain and selling them to the mobsters. One time though, something goes terribly wrong and Dog suddenly founds himself in a mortal danger. We need to find out who wants to kill us and we need to do it fast. The game’s biggest assets is the gripping and really atmospheric story that bears the mark of Blade Runner or Deus Ex about it. The game also incorporates some visuals and sound effects, which enhances immersion. Cypher got mixed reviews though, mainly due to very uncooperative parser as well as many grammatical errors and typos. The game, however, has been patched a few times, so right now playing it should be much more enjoyable experience. Just give it a try and you might be nicely surprised.

Buy it Here

 

Suveh Nux

best text adventures interactive fiction suvehnux

It seems that not many occupations are as hazardous as being a magician’s servant. After all, so many things may go wrong and result in you being switched into a frog. Or being locked up in your master’s vault, which at least sounds entertaining. Exactly that happens in David Fisher’s game Suveh nux from 2007. To escape from the room we need to master the magical language that allows us to manipulate the environment. Don’t worry, it’s not that hard and actually more fun then it may seem. No “guess-the-verb” puzzles, I promise. Messing with magic is very rewarding and sometimes produces really funny outcomes. Overall, Suveh nux is a short, but extremely enjoyable experience that plays smoothly, even if you’re new to the genre of IF.

 Download or Play it Here

 

Make It Good

best text adventures interactive fiction makeitgood

I’ve always had a soft spot for a noir detective stories but even if you don’t, Make It Good by Jon Ingold from 2009  may perhaps change your attitude. We play here is as a run-down cop who hit rock-bottom due to his drinking addiction and even his partner despises him. Still, we’re getting put in charge of a murder investigation that was committed in a house full of people, every one of them being now a suspect. We have to interrogate witnesses, collect the clues and in the end bring the inquire to a satisfactory conclusion. Apart from the atmosphere and great writing, the game has one very unique feature – the world there seems alive. All the characters have their own personalities, aim and purpose, moving about the house as they please. It’s almost as if your presence as a player wasn’t really necessary for that reality to exist. All in all, every home-grown detective should check this game out.

 Download or Play it Here

 

Hoosegow

best text adventures interactive fiction hoosegow

Ain’t nothing better than a bit of a western, right? Hoosegow (2010) by Ben Collins-Sussman and Jack Welch allows us to have a first-hand experience of a titular jail cell. Too bad that in the morning we’re going to be hanged along our buddy if we don’t figure a way out of this mess. The plot is rather simple, but entertaining, especially because of the “local flavour”. There’s a lot of Southern slang in the game – from “that ain’t no verb I got knowledge of” to “is you talking plain English?” – which strengthens the immersion and boosts up the fun factor. As for the puzzles, they are interesting and rather logical, but the game experiences some “guess-the-verb” problems and occasional bugs. Still, if you’d be understanding towards Hoosegow’s flaws, it will offer you a truly unique experience.

 Download or Play it Here

 

Spider and Web

best text adventures interactive fiction spiderweb

Spy stories definitely has their charm. But maybe not so much if you suddenly find yourself with a lamp pointed directly at your face and strange people asking you weird questions. Spider and Web (1998) by Andrew Plotkin begins quite unexcitingly – the protagonist, a tourist, faces a closed door but as he tries to leave the alley, a voice begins shouting at him and saying that it is all a lie and we need to tell the truth. And thus the intricate mystery unfolds as we want to outsmart our interrogator while trying to figure out what really happened, since the player is pretty much in the dark all the time. The premise of the game is certainly original and the execution is equally good. Spider and Web is undoubtedly confusing, difficult and unforgiving, especially later, but the more you play it, the more you appreciate the ingenuity.

Download or Play it Here

 

Lost Pig

best text adventures interactive fiction lostpig

A bit of hilarity is always welcome. And while playing Lost Pig (2007) by Admiral Jota you’re bound to chuckle, cackle and snort on a regular basis. The epic quest starts as our protagonist, an orc Grunk, finds out that a pig from his farm is missing. During the chase after an unruly animal, the hero falls into some kind of dungeon, so he now has two objectives – find the pig and return home. What makes this game so enjoyable is the narration – Grunk uses broken English to describe everything that happens around him and his comments are often completely disarming. There’s no better game if you want to take a breather from more serious and complex titles and simply to have a great time. Definitely a gem in the comedic genre.

Download or Play it Here

 

Photopia

best text adventures interactive fiction photopia

The puzzles are nice but it is the story that really attracts people into games. Adam Cadre’s Photopia (1998) is often considered to be the first interactive fiction that is almost solely narrative-driven. It’s completely linear and has very few puzzles, but nonetheless it is an experience hard to forget. I won’t spoil anything about the story, it’s better to discover the intricate twists and turns of the plot yourself. Not your usual adventure game, but if you look for some originality and ingenuity you’ve come to the right place.

Download or Play it Here

 

Losing Your Grip

best text adventures interactive fiction losing your grip

Kids, don’t experiment with dangerous substances. In Stephen Grenade’s Losing Your Grip (1998) we play as Terry, who is in rehab because of his nicotine addiction. The way to overcome it involves taking various drugs, which send the poor guy on a weird and psychedelic journey into his own mind. The game is ambiguous and nearly everything we encounter may be understood as a metaphor for something, but it is precisely why Losing Your Grip is so enjoyable. As for the puzzles, they are rather difficult. Still, they are also really well integrated into the game, so fighting against them proves to be very rewarding. Basically, a title worth looking into.

Download or Play it Here

 

Vespers

best text adventures interactive fiction vespers

It takes great skills to leave a haunting impression on the player while using nothing more than words. Jason Devlin’s Vespers (2005) certainly can do that – no wonder the games was showered with praises and awards. The game takes place in a 15th century monastery, which seems to be the only haven free of the plague that rages throughout Italy. Not for long though… Vespers puts us in the shoes of an abbot, who over the course of a few days sees his fellow monks descend into madness as the disease spreads and the whole world goes to hell. That is, however, not his only problem, since he needs to conduct an investigation regarding the murder that has been committed on the premises. The tone of the game is very dark, gruesome and depressing. A truly horrifying, but thought-provoking experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression on the player. If you’re not afraid of the darkness in human hearts, be sure to check Vespers out.

Download or Play it Here

 

Curses!

best text adventures interactive fiction curses

If there’s a game that can develop an atticophobia, it is certainly Curses!, Graham Nelson’s classic from 1994. We assume here the role of an aristocrat and the current owner of Meldrew Hall, an old mansion full of secrets. The beginning is quite normal and uneventful  – you rummage through the attic of a house in search of an old map of Paris, since you’re bent on going there on holiday. Soon, however, as you find more and more bizarre items you find out that your family is cursed. Now you have no other choice but to discover the nature of the curse and try to lift it if possible. The game is huge, well-written and thoroughly enjoyable, even though some puzzles prove to be a hard nut to crack. Still, it is one of those classics that any fan of IF should experience for themselves.

Download or Play it Here

 

Violet

best text adventures interactive fiction violet

Jeremy’s Freese Violet (2008) might have been as well named Procrastination: The Game. It’s not often that I find a game so relatable. We assume here a role of a student, who struggles with writing his dissertation. Our girlfriend, eponymous Violet, threatens to leave us if we don’t write at least 1000 words. Anyone who ever tried forcing themselves to write knows perfectly well how hard that is, especially if the Internet or a window overlooking a campus is in the vicinity. Will our hero be strong enough to fulfil his quest and keep his girlfriend? It’s all up to us. What’s worth noting, is that everything is narrated in Violet’s voice and the longer we play, the more we begin to care about her. That motivates us to abandon any distractions and solve puzzles that allow us to write. Overall, it’s a very enjoyable and funny game with a nice message behind it.

Download or Play it Here

 

1893: A World’s Fair Mystery

best text adventures interactive fiction 1893-_a_world.s_fair_mystery

Nothing better than a 19th century setting and a bit of mystery. Just as the title of Peter Nepstad game (2002) suggests – 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery – we’ll get them here. The game is set during the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, which took place in 1893 as we may deduce. We assume here the role of a detective, whose initial objective is to investigate the theft of a diamond. Soon, however, we branch out to make an inquiry about the kidnapping and murder which is just a preview of a much more elaborate mystery. The game is definitely fun to play but what really distinguished it from many other is the focus on historical details. No wonder, since the author is a historian. The exposition itself is as truthful to the original one as possible and features 500 photographs from the period, which significantly deepens the experience. If you consider yourself a bit of a history nerd, there’s few better games to indulge yourself.

Download it Here

 

Anchorhead

best text adventures interactive fiction anchorhead

Lovecraftian mythos have inspired many authors, game developers included. Among them was Michael S. Gentry, who in 1998 released Anchorhead, which is a horror-adventure that no fan of the Cthulhu mythos should pass over. The game is set in year 1997 in a titular coastal town. The protagonist and her husband had just moved into an old mansion, which the husband has recently inherited. Soon, however, the man becomes more and more obsessed with the past of his family, which apparently dabbed into occult. What’s more, the town’s denizens turn out to be far more sinister than it appeared at first glance. Our heroine needs to uncover what is really going on here and stop the evil-doers before one of the Great Old Ones visits for tea. Anchorhead has been widely praised, mainly for its atmosphere as well as for well-written dialogues and gripping narration. The only gripe people had with this game was puzzle-difficulty, but even if you’ll have to resort once or twice to the walkthrough, it is still a production definitely worth checking.

 Download or Play it Here

 

9:05

best text adventures interactive fiction 905

The strength and charm of some games lies in their simplicity. This certainly applies to Adam Cadre’s little game from 2000 called 9:05. At the said time our phone rings and wakes us up. It seems that we had overslept horribly. All we have to do now is to get up and leave the flat as soon as possible. Sounds simple enough, right? Yeah, but just wait till the ending… This is one of those productions in which seeing the conclusion totally changes the perception of the whole. I recommend playing it if only for the twist at the end. It’s very short, fun and clever title.

Download or Play it Here

 

Trinity

best text adventures interactive fiction trinity

An atomic bomb, that’s something we as players are quite familiar with. There were numerous occasions in many series to witness the aftermath of the explosion. Rarely though, first hand and while standing at ground zero. Brian Moriarty’s game Trinity (1986) makes us play as an American tourist in London, which suddenly becomes a target of a nuclear missile. When we think that we’re done for, a strange door appear from the thin air. Having nothing to lose, we open them and find ourselves in a bizarre world, where the laws of physics does not apply and the continuity of time and space goes all wibbly-wobbly. Still, we traverse this strange realm, getting to know along the way the history of nuclear bombs as we visit various test sites. We’ll be able in the end to prevent the disaster? The game is quite though-provoking without shoving the message right into your face. What’s more, it’s well-written, entertaining and with hard, but rewarding puzzles. Basically, it would be a shame not play it even once.

Download or Play it Here

 

Savoir-Faire

best text adventures interactive fiction savoir-faire

18th century France and magic? I’m sold! Savoir-Faire (2002) by Emily Short allows us to play as a young man, who is in desperate need of money, so he decides to pay a visit to his aristocratic adoptive father’s house. Once there, however, he realises that everybody has disappeared. We obviously need to find out what have happened. Fortunately, our hero is a talented magician, who is a specialist in the “lavori d’Aracne”. Basically, it’s a kind of magic that creates links between objects and if something happens to one of them, the same happens also to the pther. This mechanism is extensively used while solving puzzles, which makes Savoir-Faire quite original production. It’s not a masterpiece, but a very enjoyable and memorable game nonetheless.

Download or Play it Here

 

City of Secrets

best text adventures interactive fiction city of secrets

Who doesn’t like to travel and visit new places? Sadly, not always we have time or means to do that.  In such cases computer games may save the day. Emily Short’s City of Secrets (2003) takes us on a trip to the titular place that is full of magic and advanced technology. We’re just a tourist without a clue what’s going on, so large part of the game is just exploration and marvelling at all the wonders around us. Still, soon enough we begin to realise that this paradise is not free of troubles as many powers within the city struggle to obtain more power. Story-wise and by the creation of the setting, it is one of the best IF out there. Don’t hesitate too long, the City of Secrets awaits for an eager explorer.

Download it Here

 

Wishbringer

best text adventures interactive fiction Wishbringer

Most interactive fictions are quite difficult, but there are some titles which can serve as a great and painless introduction to the genre. One of them is Wishbringer (1985) written by Brian Moriarty. We assume here the role of a postal clerk who works in an idyllic village called Festeron. Our ordinary day turns extraordinary when we’re asked to deliver a letter to the old lady running Ye Olde Magick Shoppe. She asks us to save her cat from the clutches of a sorceress named adequately  The Evil One. Full of good intentions we leave the shop, but the moment we step out, the quiet village transforms into an ominous Witchville straight from hell. In this new situation we’re not entirely alone – on our way we pick up the Wishbringer, a magical stone that can grant seven wishes. We can use them as an aid to solve puzzles if we so desire, but the usage of the stone is optional. All in all, it’s a very nice game and if you’re just beginning your adventure with IF, this is a good game to start with.

 

A Mind Forever Voyaging

best text adventures interactive fiction-mind-forever-voyaging

Can games talk about serious political issues? Of course they can. A Mind Forever Voyaging (1985) by Steve Meretzky is one of them, designed to provide a critique of Ronald Reagan’s decisions and plans. United States of North America in 2031 is not a great place to be. The crime rate and unemployment is alarmingly high, the educational system is on the brink of collapse and there are food shortages. Something needs to be done about it. We play here as PRISM, a sentient computer, who is asked by his creator to perform a set of simulations to predict how the introduction of the Plan for Renewed National Purpose would affect the country and whether or not it would be beneficial in the long run. Various conclusions can be drawn from those simulation. A Mind Forever Voyaging is one of the most mature interactive fictions, though it didn’t achieve a commercial success. With very little puzzles, it’s based mostly on exploration and observation. A very good game to play if you’re looking for something serious and dystopian.

 

Zork I

best text adventures interactive fiction zork

Time for an absolute classic and the beginning of a highly popular series of games – Zork I. Made in 1980 by Marc Blank and Dave Lebling, even after 30 years is still enjoyable to play. We assume here the role of an unidentified adventurer, who begins his journey next to a white house. When we enter it, we collect a number of useful items, a lantern, trophy case and a sword among them. It seems that they will get useful pretty soon as we discover a trap door, leading to the dungeon or more precisely the Great Underground Empire. The objective in the game is to find Twenty Treasures of Zork and to do that we have to solve puzzles, involving for instance finding a way in a maze or manipulating various objects. It’s a very old-school adventure but definitely has its charm.

Download or Play it Here

 

Shade

best text adventures interactive fiction shade

Do you want to play a creepy and ambiguous game that will mess with your brain?  No better choice than Andrew Plotkin’s Shade (2000). The author describes his work as “a one-room game set in your apartment”. It’s a short title that depends a lot on the element of surprise, so it would be inadvisable too divulge to much at this point. I’ll just say that we assume the role of an unnamed protagonist, who wakes up before dawn and as he moves around his flat, strange things began to happen. The ending is open to various interpretations and leaves you scratching your head. Finishing Shade only takes around an hour, so feel encourages to experience it on your own.

Download or Play it Here

 

Suspended

best text adventures interactive fiction suspended mask

Looking for something unusual and ridiculously challenging? Try Suspended, a game from 1983 written by Michael Berlyn. The protagonist is a person who was supposed to sleep for 500 years deep in an underground complex, while his brain, connected to a network of computers, was responsible for maintaining control over vital systems of a planet Contra. Something goes wrong though. The characters is awaken by an earthquake, which severely damages the facility, causing various systems to shut down. Now the denizens of the planet assume that we’re wrecking havoc on purpose, so we need to restore the balance before humans would enter the facility and kill us. What is so remarkable about the game is the fact that we’re not interacting with the environment on our own. It would be after all difficult, since we’re stuck underground. Instead, we control six robots, each with different speciality and personality, to perform various duties. The game is extremely difficult, but beating it brings unparalleled satisfaction.

 

The King of Shreds and Patches

best text adventures interactive fiction king-shreds-patches

Nothing better than a nice Lovecraftian story in a historical setting. Jimmy’s Maher The King of Shreds and Patches (2009), transports us to beautifully recreated Elizabethan London where we encounter horrors beyond any measure. Everything starts innocent enough – we get a letter from an old friend, inviting us for dinner. A nice meal is not what we get though. Instead, we end up entangling ourselves in a dark conspiracy, involving black magic and ominous cults. It’s crucial to put an end to this before something truly sinister happens. The game is long and very entertaining, keeping the player on edge all the time. Perhaps a little cheesy and frustrating at times, but a real page turner nonetheless.

Download it Here

 

Metamorphoses

best text adventures interactive fiction emily short

Some games are remembered mainly for their uniqueness and the atmosphere. One of them is Metamorphoses (2000) by Emily Short. The plot is not of primary importance. We play here as a slave girl, who was sent by his master into another realm of idealized forms. Those forms can be transformed in many ways, which is how we solve most of the puzzles in the game. The most remarkable thing about this game is the freedom we are given. We can explore the world freely and puzzles have usually multiple solutions. There are also different endings to the story, depending on how we chose to play the game. Just check out it and see for yourself, Metamorphoses is an experience that is hard to forget.

Download or Play it Here

Reef Shot Review

Reef-Shot-Feature
/ by Toddziak

Reef Shot Review

 

We have a really nice winter this spring, don’t we? But there’s no reason to fret, computer games are saving the day (or at least our freezing carcasses) once again! Let’s face it – as a European wading through snowbanks my chances of going to South America to scuba dive and take photos of colourful fish while following the trail of lost El Dorado are horribly slim. Fortunately, where reality fails, we can always resort to fiction. Reef Shot, a new title from the studio Nano Games, takes us for a relaxing holiday of our dreams. Or at least that is what it wants to do because this Last Minute offer is not as attractive as it would seem at first glance.

 

 

The plot in Reef Shot, as it usually happens with casual games, is really simple, verging on being just a pretext. We play here as Scott, a freelance photographer, who was hired to document the life of underwater fauna near the Robinson Crusoe Island. Sleepish expedition becomes much more exciting though when during the exploration of the ocean’s bed we discover sunken Mayan artefacts. According to the legend, a group of natives, fearing the greedy conquistadors, loaded all the riches and wisdom of El Dorado onto a ship in the vain hope to escape as far as possible from the danger. The treasure, however, disappeared without a trace and it’s up to us whether it will be found or remain hidden forever. Fortunately, we’re not completely on our own during this quest – almost all the time we are accompanied by the voice of our helper Renée, who often gives us advice, shares her knowledge about the fish and encourages us to keep going.

 

reef-shot_2

 

This water trek takes about three or four hours and allows us to visit a few diving spots around the island. I need to point out here that Reef Shot is by no means a “traditional” adventure game: we don’t gather here any items, we don’t talk with other people (after all, maintaining a conversation while holding a mouthpiece between your teeth would be quite challenging), we don’t solve any puzzles. The whole gameplay comes down to swimming after an arrow pointing to the place where we need to go and taking photos of the things the game tells us to. It is quite pleasant, though becomes quite tedious in the long run. I don’t recommend going to more than one diving place a day because you risk a danger of falling asleep on your keyboard.

 

As befitted a casual game, it is very easy to play. We swim around using WSAD, look about by moving the mouse and zoom in and out with the scroll wheel. Our diver likes to take his time while swimming, so it’s worth to make him hurry a bit by pressing Shift. By the time the game ended, my finger was nearly falling off from mashing the button. The pain cannot be avoided though because our oxygen reserves are limited. When we run out, we have to replay the whole level from the very beginning. Fortunately, there are ways to replenish the O2. How? It’s high time to talk about the details of the gameplay.

 

ReefShot6

 

A representation of the object or the fish we are supposed to take picture of appears in the down right corner of the screen. Just below the image we can see a couple of mysterious stars. They indicate the quality of the photo that is required to pass the objective. The better the snapshot turns out – sufficiently zoomed and sharp – the more stars we will get for it. As the story progresses, we acquire more advanced models of cameras with which we can take photos worth as much as five stars, but at the same time the difficulty level soars. Believe me, trying to take a high quality photo of a fish swishing around you while keeping in mind the need to focus the camera, are far from being relaxing. More than once or twice I ended up hurling insults at the unruly fish. Finding Nemo has never before been so hard.

 

With the gathered stars we can buy various bonuses, for instance a new bottle of oxygen, additional roll of film for our camera or various sidequests, which require making more photos of underwater species or sunken planes and whatnot. Truth be told, I wasn’t particularly enticed to explore more than was necessary. I guess it was mainly the fault of graphics. I know that the visual side of the game is of secondary importance, but when it comes to the production that relies so strongly on showing us the wonders of the world, it just needs to look astonishing. Yes, the fish are okay and  nicely animated, and some nook and crannies of the ocean have certain appeal, but I would gladly see more life there – some seaweed, scattered garbage and more schools of fish. Either National Geographic was lying in their documentaries or the game has a lot to work on. A reviewer’s duty require that I mention here also the music, which is of “elevator” quality. It’s playing somewhere in the background and nobody pays any attention to it whatsoever.

 

reefshot1

 

All in all, Reef Shot is a production for casual players who look for a light and not overly demanding entertainment. Even they can, however, feel at times bored with the monotony of the gameplay or feel frustrated with the difficulty of making decent photos or the need to replay the whole level in case of a failure. At least, I was frustrated. If only the graphics was breath-taking, I would recommend that game as a sort of a trivia. But it isn’t, so only wanna-be divers can take a look at it. The rest of the world may just pass over it without much regret.

 

FINAL SCORE: 5/10

 

Pros:

-        educational value

-        the look and animation of fish

-        despite everything it can be fun

 

Cons:

-        short

-        occasionally too frustrating to be relaxing

-        becomes boring when you play it for a longer time

-        the ocean looks too empty