Thursday, 25 May 2017

Dark Seed - Won!

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Mike Dawson journal #4 : I’ve made it! By removing their spaceship and destroying the mirror, I’ve finally been able to trap the Ancients in their cursed dimension! The Keeper of the Scrolls provided me with pills in order to deal with the embryo in my head and even sent the beautiful librarian my way… Now if only someone could buy this house off my hands...

As I was suspecting last time, I was very close to the endgame and very far at the same time, because I was once again in a dead-end situation. Turns out you could put several items under the cell pillow and not just the pin, allowing you to successfully keep part of your inventory before having everything stolen from you. I would have loved to find that by myself but of course, I had to admit I was stuck once again and did look at the hints Ilmari gave my on my second gameplay post. His third hint in the “Jail” hint thread was that I could only put three things under the pillow. It meant I could put more than one thing! That’s kinda obvious I blame myself for not at least try to do this by myself.

Stupid pillow

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Fascination - Tramp stamp on a bare buttock (Request for Assistance)

Written by Ilmari

Happened in the previous episode: While Doralice had thought that ice cubes were a great hiding place for an inhibition lowering drug, he hadn’t foreseen that his fling, Robaire de la Cafetiere, would consume the ice cubes, together with the dangerous substance, becoming then a mindless rapist. And although she had been clever enough not to hand out the other two vials of the same drug to a suspicious inspector in a wheelchair, she had been careless enough to contact Lou Dale, an erotic photographer, who had just took some photos of Kenneth Miller, son of Jeffrey Miller, the inventor of the dangerous drug. Gangsters hired by a crooked plastic surgeon, Peter “Doc” Hillgate”, had planted a bug on Lou’s phone and had at once captured Lou after Doralice made her phone call. And although Doralice was able to knock out Lou’s guard with a homemade gas bomb, she still hadn’t figured out that Doc had used Lou’s photos to switch Kenneth with a completely different guy

...and now she’s about to meet Kenneth Miller

Monday, 22 May 2017

Missed Classic: Planetfall - Leavin’ on a Midnight Train to Lawanda

Written by Joe Pranevich

Which bed to sleep in tonight?

Last week, I kicked off my explorations of Planetfall, the sixth stop on the “Great Zork Marathon.” The game opened with a brief on-rails sequence where I was taunted by a petty superior officer for not cleaning the floors properly, but quickly became something very different when our starship blew up. I fled in an escape pod and crash landed in an abandoned military base on an unknown planet with only a spare towel and some tasty goo to survive with. Don’t panic! As I explored the base, I discovered many locked doors and elevators, earthquake damage, and a new best front: Floyd, a helpful but childish robot who runs off at odd times and likes to write on walls with crayons. As I ended my last post, night had just fallen and I retreated to an empty dormitory to sleep. I’m running out of food but I had just discovered a key to the lower elevators. That’s where I’ll start today.

But before I go, a word of advice: if you haven’t played Planetfall before, you may want to stop reading and pick this up. I won’t have any of the best spoilers in this post, but this is a game that is worth experiencing for yourself unspoiled. Another challenge I have is properly communicating the tone of the game. Much of what I have glossed over, the mundane exploration of the alien base mixed and the slow realization that you will die without rescue, creates a tension that adds to the solving of typical adventure puzzles. It’s well-written in a way that I doubt I can capture very well. I’m having a ton of fun and I hope you do as well.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Fascination - Aphrodisiac in orifice

Written by Ilmari

High-class CEOs put their numbers in Who’s Who, low-class erotic photographers don’t

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Dark Seed - Stranger Things

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Mike Dawson journal #3 : I’ve finally met the strange being that’s sending me messages and clues from the Dark World, the Keeper of Scrolls. With her help, I’ll have to destroy the Ancient Race and save the world… and all of that before the Alien Embryo I have in my brain blows my head off!

Before starting this post I wanted to tell you that I’m pretty sure I’m really close to the end of the game, however I’ve hit another roadblock and considering I wanted to avoid using any more clues and try to figure out one or two things for myself in this game, it might lead to a kinda short final gameplay post. After last post, I’ve spent quite a lot of time running in circles in the game, utterly and completely stuck, before resorting to read the three hints Ilmari left me after my first gameplay post.

I have no idea what a Chanague Cointreauchet is but I’m pretty sure ANY wine from 1961 would be exactly my cup of tea.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Missed Classic 40: Planetfall - Introduction (1983)

Written by Joe Pranevich

When I was a kid, one of the boxed sets of games that my family picked up for me was the Zork Anthology, a 1994 collection of the what someone at Activision considered the “Zork” games. This package included the original Zork trilogy, Zork Zero, Beyond Zork, and… surprisingly… Planetfall. Looking back on this now, it’s clear not a ton of thought was put into this: the set didn’t include either the Enchanter series nor the ZorkQuest games. They probably didn’t intend to imply that that Planetfall existed within the Zork universe, but it was enough to lodge this particular misapprehension firmly in my brain for decades. When the time came for my marathon here, I added Planetfall to the list even though I knew better. Who knows? It might be connected after all.

Last time out, I took a break from my marathon to play Suspended, a dystopian science-fiction game and Infocom’s sixth title. 1983 marked a huge year for Infocom, a company that had never released more than two games per year suddenly had five. After Suspended came The Witness, a game that Ilmari reviewed last year, and then Planetfall. Although Ilmari already looked at The Witness, I wanted to come to Planetfall with the full Infocom experience so I also played and then wrote about my experiences with that game. You can find it as a special bonus post here. Spoiler: I do not like it as much as Ilmari did.

Planetfall is the first game by adventure gaming legend Steve Meretzky. We’ve seen his work (in various roles) on the Spellcasting series and Gateway; we’ll also be seeing him soon in Leather Goddesses and Rex Nebular, not to mention at least three more stops on the Zork marathon. He came to Infocom as a game tester and, thanks in large part to Planetfall, became one of their top designers. I’m thrilled to be able to experience his first game once again.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Dark Seed - Dark City

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Mike Dawson journal #2 : After all these weird clues, I’ve finally gained access to this strange dark alien world. It seems my predecessor in this house went crazy because of them, and I’m starting to worry if the horrible nightmares I’m having are just bad dreams or something more ominous… I’ll try to get to the bottom of this before these headaches kill me!

Since my last play post, I was able to find something else to do before moving on to day 2 : In the garage, I tried using the hand icon on the car to enter it but to no avail. It’s just that I was using the wrong icon. Simply “moving” in the car was enough to enter it. Now that I write about it, it kinda makes sense, but it proves that I have to be careful to use all the icons on things before dismissing something as useless. Entering the car, I can find a pair of gloves in the glovebox and… a radio! The clue from the library book told me to go to “tune to the right station” but all I can get is music. Maybe something else will happen on the radio later.

Honk if you want to find a purpose in this game!

Onward to day 2!

Monday, 8 May 2017

KGB - Final Rating

Written by Torch

Well, here we are. My first attempt at applying the PISSED rating to an adventure game. I’m slightly awestruck and hope I won’t skew the scale too much or otherwise make a complete fool out of myself.

Without further ado, the categories:

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Dark Seed - Groundhog Day

Written by Alfred n the Fettuc

Mike Dawson journal #1 : That’s it I’ve finally found the house of my dreams where I’ll be able to write my first best-seller. Funny how cheap it was. The real estate agent didn’t even try to negotiate when I lowered the price. It’s remote, calm and old, perfect for my needs. Now if I can only find some aspirin in order to remove this horrible headache I have since I’ve made this terrible nightmare…

The first minutes in Dark Seed perfectly gives the tone for the rest of the game. We begin with a quite jarring nightmare scene where aliens split Mike’s head open and put some kind of embryo in it. The Alien comparison is still accurate, even if this way is kinda even scarier than the facehuggers.

Even more horrifying : Mike’s moustache.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Dune - Final Rating

Written by Reiko

I suspect Dune is going to be a mixed bag. While I certainly enjoyed its blend of story and strategy, it's a rather different sort of game than the usual kind of adventure game we see. Let's dive into the categories to break down what it did well or poorly and where the adventure scale doesn't really address its features.

Puzzles and Solvability

Right away, we have to consider the question of whether the interactions in Dune are really puzzles. If we consider that adventure games include dialogue puzzles, then perhaps they are, except that in most cases, there are no choices in the dialogues: I can choose to talk to someone or not, or ask them to join me or stay there, but if I'm speaking to the right person at the right time, then I'll get the next piece of information, and the story will advance: there are no choices about what to say.

With Gurney, getting directions to the next sietch from the Fremen.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Game 81 : Dark Seed - Introduction

Written by Alfred n’ the Fettuc

Horror video games have always been a thing. They can be traced back to as far as 1982 for graphic horror games with 3d Monster Maze and probably before that with text adventure games that I don’t know about. A lot of them rely on jump scares (Five Nights at Freddy’s, I’m looking at you) but few dabble with psychological horror, at least before the technology was really able to plunge you into horrific universes and bring you games you don’t want to play alone at night like Amnesia or Fatal Frame. Introduce the game that was ranked 6th of Gametrailer’s “scariest video games of all time”, despite being the oldest one of their selection: Dark Seed.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Dune - Rendezvous with Fremen (Won!)

Written by Reiko

Paul Atreides Journal #4: "No force in the galaxy can stand against me now. Dune with its precious spice is mine. The Harkonnens are no more and even the Emperor will never be a threat again. And I will make at least part of Dune green, for my mother, and for the family I will have with Chani."

Last time, I left off with one sietch struck by a plague that was deliberately spread by the Harkonnens. Fortunately, Chani offered to cure it, but she asked Paul to leave her there by herself to reduce distractions. I would have thought she'd be more of a distraction to him, but nevermind.

The troops that were already at the sietch when the plague hit are out of commission, but other troops can move through the sietch without trouble. Since Gurney is still there too, I continue training a few of the other nearby troops. I also spend some time visiting troops in other areas and readjusting the locations of the spice harvesters.


But when I return to that sietch after I get the message from Chani that the plague is cured, I find her missing! Now I know why the plot needed me to be elsewhere... Soon after that, Thufir informs me that a message has arrived at the palace. I rush back to find another taunting message from Feyd-Rautha, the Harkonnen heir. He has stolen Chani away!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

KGB - The Waiting Game

Written by Torch

We’re still in chapter 2. In my previous post, I had to get rid of a dead body, interrogate prostitutes and foreign agents, and finally I got to trash a hotel room, rockstar style. No wonder I was dead tired by the time I got back to my hotel room. I emptied my pockets of hard and pointy objects, and threw myself on the bed.

Guess who found the chainsaw fuel

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

KGB - The Trouble with Viktor

Written by Torch

I’m still in chapter 2. During my previous session, I met a mystery contact, who I refer to as Cut-throat, based on the phrase he used to identify himself. I don’t know who he works for yet. Could be an organization, or someone independent. Nevertheless, I provided him with some info, and he returned the favor. I’m now back in my hotel room, right after our meeting, waiting for my Department P mission controller to show up at 7.30 pm.

Well, there’s no time to rest. At exactly 7.30, I hear a knock on the door. It’s the controller, Major Savinkov, and he has apparently decided to bring me a house-warming ( or rather hotel-warming ) gift, in the form of a dead body. Swell...

Gee, thanks for bringing in more work, major.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Dune - The Demolished Duke

Written by Reiko

Paul Atreides Journal #3: "My power and range is greatly increasing. I will soon be able to bring the full force of the Fremen against the Harkonnens. I just need to maintain my focus even in the face of certain distractions. Still, I'm so pleased that Stilgar thought to bring me to Chani. She is a wonderful help and I want her by my side always."

So my main objective right now is to get my western troops trained and equipped and launch an offensive against nearby Harkonnen fortresses. I also need to keep my eyes open for more information about villages where I might be able to get more ornithopters.

The army troop that I set to "espionage" found a Harkonnen fortress just to the north of my northern sietches, but eventually he also discovered it had three heavily-armed sets of troops, so Thufir's instruction to attack from the west is a good one. I sent the troop off to join the ones in the west instead of continuing the espionage and potentially attracting attention from the Harkonnens.

Meanwhile, I still didn't know where the villages were, but I finally went back to my fortress and realized I hadn't talked to Harah for awhile. She remembered about a village located "in the fish's mouth" and suggested I'd have to look for it from an orni. When I looked at the map, I saw immediately what she was talking about: there's a rock formation shaped like a fish some ways southwest of the fortress.

The smuggler will sell me the orni I needed.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Missed Classic 39: Suspended (1983)

By Joe Pranevich

Over the past several months, we have followed a surprisingly complete history of Infocom through my reviews of the Zork marathon plus Ilmari’s look at Deadline and other early mystery games. For me, this has been a revelation both in how amazing these games hold up today as well as filling in much more of the early history of adventure games. When Trickster played King’s Quest so many years ago, he did so without first seeing any of its antecedents, Colossal Cave or the Hi-Res Adventures. We’ve already traced the formation of Infocom through mainframe Zork and its first five games but when it came time for number six, they charted a new course.

The five previous games (three Zorks, Deadline, and Starcross) were all the brain-children of two men: Marc Blank and Dave Lebling, the founders and creative geniuses behind Infocom. To keep up with demand, the pair worked on multiple games simultaneously but by 1983 it was obvious that they needed to recruit outside talent to grow. Sierra’s own Ken and Roberta Williams went through a similar transition in their Hi-Res Adventure series, handling the reins to their first outside developer with their fourth game, Cranston Manor. (A partially-completed review of that game remains in my drafts folder. I hope to be able to share it with you eventually.)

This is where Mike Berlyn comes in. He wasn’t part of the MIT community that coalesced into the original team, rather he was a published writer with three sci-fi novels under his belt (The Integrated Man, Crystal Phoenix, and Blight, released in 1980 and 1981) plus two sci-fi text adventures, Oo-Topis (1981) and Cyborg (1981). His fiction explored human-computer interaction and cloning, with more than a bit of horror mixed in. While he was an accomplished Apple II programmer, he didn’t have the “hard computer science” education that was the hallmark at Infocom. Bringing him into the Infocom fold, a company already priding itself on its literary aspirations, seemed like a match made in heaven. The output was one of the most innovative and different games ever released by Infocom: Suspended.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Call for Questions for Muriel Tramis

Written by Ilmari

Although we have had a bit of a love-hate relationship with French adventure gaming, I am sincerely of the opinion that a history of its early days would be an interesting field of study. Careful readers of our Missed Classics might have seen that I’ve done my share in trying to make this otherwise rather forgotten era more accessible. I have especially followed the career of Muriel Tramis, interesting not just as one of the first female game designers, but also as probably the first game designer hailing from Martinique.

Her official LinkedIn -picture
This remarkable person worked for Tomahawk, subsidiary of Coktel Vision, which later became a part of the enlarging empire of Sierra. In what might be taken as an ironic result, the takeover of a French gaming company was followed by a takeover by a French media company Vivendi. After few years in this media corporation, Muriel Tramis left Vivendi and founded her own company Avantilles in 2003. I’ve been trying to track her down, in order to conduct an interview with her, but for quite a long time, the trail was cold.

Until the beginning of April.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

KGB - Backtrack’s Back Alright

Written by Torch

The observant reader may remember that I mentioned the backtrack function in the intro post. Well, I’ll have you know that I became quite familiar with that particular mechanic over the course of this next session. The possibilities for failure in this game are numerous, but whereas the first mission was pretty forgiving and didn’t kill me at the drop of a hat, the gloves came off pretty quickly once I got to Kursk street.

Before I dive in, here’s a quick plot summary. Our guy, Maksim Rukov has been sent to Kursk street to further investigate the death of former KGB agent, now private investigator Pyotr Golitsin, who was supposed to meet tonight with a contact going by the codename “Hollywood”. Golitsin would present himself as “Buyer2”, and the meeting was arranged by someone called “Romeo”. I’ve been given a fake identity for the purpose of this undercover mission. My fake name is to be Kliment Kruglov, and I’m a bicycle brake repairman.

I arrive on Kursk street, outside a bar with the curtains closed.

A classy-looking establishment

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Dune - Do Fremen Dream of the Desert Mouse?

Written by Reiko

Paul Atreides Journal #2: "The desert is changing me already. I’m seeing visions of things I can’t possibly know about directly. I’m even starting to look like the Fremen, which is all the better if I’m to win their loyalty and use them against the Harkonnen threat."

When I left off last time, Jessica had just told me I should go out into the desert. Alone, I wander out of the fortress and prepare to wait. Almost immediately, the screen fuzzes, and I get a brief glimpse of the Duke saying that there's a message from the emperor. Huh. I go back inside, and indeed there is a message demanding 970 kgs of spice to be sent today. I've got more than enough to be able to comply, but I don't see a way to send it right there. When I reach the throne room, the Duke and Jessica are both there, and Jessica seems to be expecting me. She knows I had a vision of the message and says I should talk to her later about my powers expanding.

In the meantime, the Duke has called a meeting on the balcony with all the members of staff at the fortress. He is pleased with my progress in gathering Fremen support. Harah confirms that there is a Fremen prophecy, and she believes Paul will be the one to fulfill it. Gurney seems to have disappeared, though.

Jessica's explanation of Paul's powers.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Check out a new Kickstarter

By the TAG team

We rarely advertise new Kickstarters, but this time we just had to make an exception. How could we resist, when we are the inspiration! That’s right, you read it correctly, The Adventure Gamer will get its own adventure game.

The Adventure Gamer 3000 tells the story of Lilah the Lurker, who one day wakes up to the awful reality, in which her favourite adventure game blog has suddenly gone offline. Lilah begins a desperate globetrotting attempt to contact all the reviewers and admin of TAG, before they have all been erased from reality by the evil and maleficent Doctor Dastardious. Will she be able to save Trickster from a fate worse than death and convince him to make one more comeback?

You can access the whole world with this easy-to-use interface

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

KGB - Hello, Comrade!

Written by Torch

Здравствуйте, товарищ! And welcome to the KGB. Since this is your first day, we’ll give you a generous 5 minutes to get settled in before sending you out on a mission.

I’m not an authority on Soviet work habits, but I find it hard to believe that their work days used to start at 4 pm.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Missed Classic: Starcross - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

The entire game summed up in one image.

Last week, I had a ton of fun exploring the alien vessel in Starcross. One part dungeon-crawl, one part “hard” science fiction, it wasn’t like any of the games that I have played so far in this series. Unfortunately, I found a few of the puzzles too challenging and I had to give up. I could not turn on the lights to explore the rest of the ship and I could not fix the leaks which caused me to run out of air. I also knew of several colored rods that I was unable to collect. With the help of a few hints, I was able to get the game moving again and complete my explorations. This week, I’ll conclude my tour of the accidental generation-ship and close out the fifth game in our marathon.

The first challenge I faced this week was turning on the lights, a problem so solvable that I had done it a half-dozen times without even realizing it.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Dune - Laying the Foundation

Written by Reiko

Paul Atreides Journal #1: "My task is clear. Defeat the Harkonnens. I was born for this and only I can do this. They’ll never expect that I can make a fighting force out of the Fremen. They underestimate them and they underestimate me. I will become as one born here and the Fremen will have no choice but to accept me."

The ornithopter map at the beginning of the game has three Fremen sietches marked.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Discussion point: If Adventure Games were invented now, what would they be called?

By the TAG Team

Pirates! is surely a game full of adventure, right?

And Avatar is always on an adventure, right?

Heck, surely looking for diamonds in a cave full of deadly fireflies is an adventure!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Game 83: KGB - Introduction

Written by Torch

Fancy pants 3D logo

KGB is a french game, made by Cryo Interactive. But… we hear you say, didn’t you just introduce a Cryo game? What’s going on? Is it Deja vu? Haha, no, silly. Deja Vu was featured way back in December 2011. ( And no, it’s not Deja Vu 2 either )

No, Cryo did actually release 2 games during 1992. And - as if that wasn’t enough - 92 was also the year the company was founded. How’s that for ambition? Well, to be precise, they only formally founded the company. They’d been working together as a development team since 1989. But still. As you are undoubtedly aware, the other game released was Dune, the game based on the movie based on the book by Frank Herbert.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Missed Classic: Starcross - Zorks in Space! (Request for Assistance)

Written by Joe Pranevich

My trusty ship, the Starcross.

Last week, I embarked on an adventure: While searching our solar system for miniature black holes to mine, I instead found a gigantic alien ship. Before I knew it, I will pulled alongside and forced to dock. With my ship trapped, all I could do was board the vessel and see what was up. I solved one difficult (to me!) puzzle at the door only to find a long red hallway and suspiciously breathable air. We’re not in Zork anymore! It’s time to play Starcross.

Let me start with the usual disclaimer: I play these games like an OCD weasel on caffeine and so I’m sorting the events in a way that describes the individual areas even as it doesn’t quite reflect the jumping back and forth that happens when inspiration strikes. Much of the ship I am about to explore is open immediately and so a lot of the early part of the game is just getting the lay of the land in an alien ship. Although it is a very “Zork” experience puzzle-wise, the setting never feels like anything that has come before in this series. It’s mind-bending.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Game 80: Dune - Introduction (1992)

Written by Reiko

If you've read any science fiction, you've probably at least heard of Dune, the classic novel by Frank Herbert. It was originally published in 1965 and spawned five more books written by Herbert himself, plus several more written by his son Brian Herbert with Kevin J. Anderson. And of course, it's the basis for the adventure game developed by Cryo Interactive and published in 1992 by Virgin Interactive. Actually, the game was based completely on the 1984 movie, which was based on the novel but has some differences.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Eternam - Final Rating

written by Aperama

Eternam is probably one of the more divisive topics I've had to attack here on the blog. The 'win' post has made it very clear that there were people who actually found this game somewhat endearing and likeable in its own way. I decided to focus on the more negative aspects because every time I attempted to write about it up front, it simply read as gibberish and barely came out to more than a paragraph or two. Eternam is a big game where not a lot actually happens. There are plenty of jokes throughout the way, most of which don't necessarily tickle my personal funny bone. In contrast to most of the other games I've reviewed where I found personal interest, or could at least understand the target audience, this one just never worked for me. Given as much, I decided to spend the last few days researching reviews both of a time-specific nature (Zero, a UK magazine, has its highest review yet I can't find anything from it outside of the score so it's largely useless) and of a more up-to-date theme, not that a great many people have put together video reviews et al of it.

This is, just as a reminder, what happens after a train almost runs you over

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Missed Classic 38: Starcross - Introduction (1982)

Written by Joe Pranevich

A few weeks ago, Zork III fell to the might of my trusty elven sword. That’s four games on our Zork marathon completed and I remain excited for this series and what comes next. It’s time to take our first official side-trip: Starcross. Released simultaneously with Zork III and tied for the mantle of Infocom’s fourth game, Starcross is another genre-buster for 1982. While Marc Blank proved that text adventures could work for mysteries, Dave Liebling went after hard science fiction. I’ll be playing it because (I am told) it has elements that directly tie it into the Zork universe, albeit not part of the main series. We’ll have to wait and see.

Right off the bat, Infocom wanted to make Starcross unlike any game that had come before. Only a few months after introducing the “feelies” with Deadline and starting to distribute their own materials, Infocom took creative packaging to the next level by utilizing a distinctive “UFO” shape for the release. The “box”, if you can call it that, was a plastic flying saucer. I vaguely remember reading about this gimmick years ago; boxes literally rolled off the shelves. It’s a funny way to start what promises to be a serious game but let’s hope they didn’t pour more creativity into the packaging than the game itself.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Gateway - Final Rating

Written by Reiko

I'll just say right out that I enjoyed Gateway very much, but I think nostalgia played a pretty small part in that, mostly by making the game easier because I remembered some of the plot and puzzle solutions. Gateway was consistently strong across the categories, bringing a polished and engaging experience to the player throughout. If anything, it started out a bit slow and built up to a very strong finish with the layered VR scenarios at the end. Let's break down why I found it so enjoyable and also where the game could have been a little stronger.

Puzzles and Solvability

I believe the puzzles are fair and logical, although I could see where some optional points might be easy to miss if you aren't careful about being social and polite to everyone. The trickiest parts are probably in the VR sections, but those are also the most fair because they are completely self-contained: everything you need is within the simulation, so it's just a matter of working out the right way to use what's there to break the scene.

Rolf's opinion changes depending on how you solve the local puzzles.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Eternam - Whoops, Outta Budget! (Won!)

written by Aperama

The reward is a wonky closeup of our 'helper' – they really love to zoom in!

The pain is finally over! I no longer have to worry about having to load up Eternam. I swear my computer has been quietly weeping over running it up! The music has been extremely lacklustre when it has actually existed, the graphics are weird more than endearing.. there's just pretty consistently nothing to look forward to. The game's consistent lack of logic is enough to make me want to cry most of the time. But it's over! You guys don't all have to skim through my posts of hate-filled ranting any longer – it's over! The worst thing is that the game ends on not just a cliffhanger, but an abrupt one. Much like the last French game which I played for the blog, B.A.T., I ran into a game which promised far more than it was ever going to be capable of fulfilling, desperately struggled to fit in what it actually had and then ended with little more than a 'The End!' screen. There again, at least Eternam doesn't have a sequel...

The full view of Eternam. The map does not match the overland – 'Sholda' is black and desolate

The 'Dragoons' are good fun, at least

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Missed Classic: Snowball - Won! (With Final Rating)

Written by Ilmari

Kim Kimberley reporting 3: “I’ve found out why I have been awoken. The pilot who was supposed to take care of the last year of Snowball’s journey was killed by a mysterious person known just as Alpha. Now the ship is flying to a nearby sun, and it is up to me to turn its course. Fortunately, I have found space gear and I can move outside the freezer section...

Free floating

Outside the airlock was a docking bay, with a handgun that I quickly took in my possession. The massive doors of the docking bay were open, and a huge web connected the freezer unit to the inner surface of the enormous ball of ice. Traversing the web wasn’t particularly difficult, but I also found a much quicker way to get down.

When I had earlier tried to explore the outdoor locations - slowly dying of the lack of oxygen and in complete darkness - I had been told at one point that I was leaving the web and asked if I was sure. I tried to duplicate that experience by going to some edge of the web and moving to a direction without any web (Later I found out that I could have just jumped at any point off the web). Suddenly, I found myself floating.

I should be floating inside a giant ball of ice, so what
are these white dots supposed to be? Giant snowflakes?

Monday, 27 February 2017

Gateway - Won!

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #10: "I’m in hell. Literally. I suppose I deserve it. I wish I hadn’t broken the party VR, but I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to help the Heechee AI destroy the Assassin. Now I’m paying for my choices and I’m not even allowed to die."

As they say, "out of the frying pan into the fire." This time it's almost literal. I'd just destroyed the Assassin's distraction through VR contradiction. The destroyed party scene dissolves into a new VR scene, a conversation with a huge demon who threatens me with eternal torment instead of pleasure and then throws me into a flaming hydra lair.

How many ways can I find to die?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Eternam - Through the Stargate

written by Aperama

I'm definitely regretting extending my last play post at this point. See, my previous post was spent running around making useless conversation with dozens upon dozens of bad spoof characters to pop culture. It generally involved too much insanity to actually be swallowed in one sitting. Inversely, this time around was the new island of 'Paw' – or as I thought of it mentally, 'Egypt-land'. The parallels to Westworld would be far cleaner in this instance were the game just slightly better grounded in anything – reality would be nice, but I'd even settle for something as steady as pudding at this rate. There are a total of six NPCs within this island, counting the genie who can trick you into a bottle and the Japanese photographer (stereotypes, ha ha!) who will then save you from it if you make the mistake of taking his offer of 'all of the genie's power'. It's as though they ran out of ideas for characters to speak to, and just figured 'eh, we'll put all of the game's puzzles here instead'.

Welcome to the 'giant tomb'

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Snowball - Eurocracy on a Cruiser

written by Ilmari

Kim Kimberley reporting 2: “I’ve been awakened from my long slumber, so there must be something wrong with Snowball. It took me a while just to get out of the freezer section of the ship. Now I must find out what exactly is going on here.”

Massage parlor area

After exiting the airlock leading out from freezer units, I first encountered a long cylindrical tube, with another airlock at the southern end. Continuing north from this second airlock, led me inexplicably to another cylindrical tube, situated under the first tube - I could climb from the lower tube to the upper tuber, but for some reason I couldn’t climb down from upper to the lower tube.

I at first tried to to open southern airlock. I came into a docking bay, and I was promptly told I had no air to breath. I could still move for a while. First, I entered some dark area and then I found myself floating in space, and finally, I died.

It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere....

Monday, 20 February 2017

Missed Classic 37: Snowball (1983)

By Ilmari

Since we don’t want to exhaust Joe with his marathon, we’ve given him some time off. In the meantime, I’ll take the opportunity to continue the story of Level 9, a text adventure company founded by the Austin brothers and known affectionately as the British Infocom (yes, this is going to be a sideshow). As those familiar with my earlier reviews of Level 9 games might remember, I have been less than enthusiastic about their games. We’ll see if Snowball fares any better. At least it is a change from their earlier, Tolkien-themed works and foreshadows nicely Joe’s upcoming Starcross-posts.

So, is that a giant net for catching space fish?

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Gateway - Virtual Reality

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #9: "Seriously, we’re not done yet? Now I’ve got to go activate the whole shield system because there’s a control center at the Vertex in the same star system as the Assassin’s watchtower. If the Heechee had just activated the thing in the first place, this wouldn’t have been necessary."

I'm almost ready to trigger the fourth shield generator, but I still need an actuator cell to fix the controls if I don't want to dig up the one buried by the trailhead.

Getting the actuator cell out of the wreckage is a rather delicate operation, involving multiple tools and quite a lot of technobabble. I'd poked around earlier and saw that the actuator panel looked relatively intact, but was secured with grommets that I couldn't remove. I examined everything again and this time saw that the maintenance crib could be opened, so I did that and found a flange defuser and a grommet wrench. Now I should be able to do this.

Technobabble for Heechee technology.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Eternam - Sunshine of the Spotted Mind

written by Aperama

Eternam is getting to the point where I repeatedly ask myself a simple question: 'why?' The problem is the direction of this query. At first, it was 'why would the developer do this'. This is actually a fairly common question as I look into games, particularly with a critical eye turned towards things given the relative age of the games we're playing here. Using the 'latest technology' at the time is often the explanation for a relative drop in quality (e.g. the FMV revolution to truly kick in some time soon on this blog). I'm past asking that question, as the answer to that is simply not one I have the capability to understand. I don't operate on that 'either crazy or genius' level and likely never will. The question I'm now asking is 'why am I even playing this?' Even with the impetus to complete the game for the blog, I'm struggling heavily with that question. The other bad games I've played here have at least had the saving grace of being short – this feels like it's gone on forever already! There are things that make you appreciate other, finer things. One might read Hamlet and find that they're encouraged to watch it as a live play, making their appreciation for the artistry of the performers that greater. Eternam on the other hand makes me long to read Twilight for its incredibly deep and emotionally strong female protagonist.

It is, after all, a game that has us watched by our robotic overlords

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Missed Classic: Zork III - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

Hello, sailor! Last week, I started into Zork III, the final chapter of the original Zork trilogy, and explored much of this new region in the Great Underground Empire. I discovered an ancient aqueduct on an icy lake, a “scenic vista” that could teleport me into previous (and future!) Zork games, and battled a mysterious man in a land of shadow. The game has been fun so far, but more melancholy than previous outings. There are no inept wizards or sneaky thieves here, only monuments to a dead civilization. I have a bunch of puzzles to solve on my way to the Dungeon Master and I need to get cracking.

But where should I start? I don’t feel like I’ve made it through any part of this game completely and the structure makes telling a cohesive narrative of play challenging. Just like I did way back on Dungeon, I find myself bobbing and weaving back and forth between puzzles to discover which one I can crack first. Adding to the difficulty, the score in this game is worthless. There are only seven points in this game. Seven! Worse, these points seem to be awarded based on puzzles found rather than ones solved; I spent a chunk of today’s post with a full load of points but nowhere near victory. Let’s play!