Review: Trader of Stories: Bell’s Heart and Grain of Truth
Indie games are just everywhere these days. You can easily grab some brand-new titles on Steam, GOG or directly from the page of a developer of your liking. What’s even better, some of indie gems are totally free to download or play in your browser. Today we take a look at two fairytale-like adventure games from the series Big Old Tree that Dreams conceived by Rudowscy brothers. If you loved Valente’s The Orphan Tales or if you generally love storytelling, those games are tailor-made for you.
The Trader of Stories: Bell’s Heart
Bell’s Heart begins with a short introduction where we met our protagonist. The mysterious girl is called Myosotis and she’s a Trader of Stories. As the name of an occupation suggests, she collects people’s stories and retells them. But she has a deeper purpose in it. She wants to find a story about herself and discover who she really is.
That’s only the beginning of the beginning, since the real tale starts when the wheel of Myosotis’ cart breaks and she enters a small village to get it fixed. Every place has some skeletons in the closet (or in this case: in a lake) and Myosotis uncovers a sad story of love and loss. What’s great about this game is that the flow of the plot seems very natural and realistic. Even though we find ourselves in a fantasy world, it’s really believable and interesting at the same time. That’s a great achievement of developers.
The game was made by Pastel Games and is a point’n'click adventure game, so to progress we collect various items and use them in a proper place and order. We also talk with other characters a lot and ask them various questions to get to the bottom of things. In our inventory, apart from a bunch of gathered junk, we also have Myosotis notebook, full of trivia about the magical world, and the Book of Stories. It shows us the degree of completion of the story. The more we know, the more puzzles fit in their places in the picture. When all the puzzles are gathered, the story is finished and we can read the full tale of what really happened in the village.
The graphics is very good. When I’ve seen the beautiful, pastel backgrounds for the first time, A Whispered Worlds came to my mind. Cut-scenes are presented in form of a comic strips and they look great. The visual side is one of the biggest advantage of this game.
Of course, not only graphics counts. The plot and, above all, the unique atmosphere of this game makes Bell’s Heart and unforgettable adventure. It is worth checking out in your spare time, especially because it’s very short and it takes no more than half an hour to beat it. You won’t regret the time spent with Myosotis, I can assure you.
The Trader of Stories: A Grain of Truth
Once again we meet Myosotis on her quest to discover her past. This time the girl wants to find the Wiseman, who reportedly knows every story ever told. She plans to persuade him to tell her the tale about her life. So Myosotis embarks on another journey in which she’ll encounter flying stones, clouds harvesters and other magical wonders.
A Grain of Truth is a sequel to Bell’s Heart, but it’s improved over its predecessor in every aspect. It seems that much more effort and time were put to make the game longer and prettier. It’s still a point’n'click game, but with much more depth in the gameplay department. When we click on a hotspot a special menu unfurls and we can chose what kind of action to take: examine the item, take it, use another object with it, look closer or talk, when we encounter other characters. During the dialogues and further examinations some words are highlighted. When we click them, we not only gain additional information about the world, but we also collect the said words. They become useful later, namely while asking for a story of a certain person. Then we have to insert the proper word in a gap within a sentence, so that the whole question will make sense. Apart from this kind of task and inventory-based puzzles in A Grain of Truth we also have problems that require some logical thinking. They’re not unbeatable, but demand focus and attention, which of course will please adventure game fans out there.
As was previously stated, the game looks way better than Bell’s Heart, which itself was very pretty. The backgrounds are more detailed and less sketchy and the intensity of colours is just marvellous. We also get some aid in form of highlighting hotspots or a map that can teleport us to any previously visited location.
All in all, both games have a unique, magical atmosphere and are a must to any adventure games fan. Playing them feels like listening to an old legend told by your grandma, while you’re sitting on her lap. I cannot wait to see the third instalment of the Big Old Tree that Dreams series, which is now in development. So don’t hesitate and play the games for free.