Friday, November 28, 2014

Randal's Monday is 10% off on Steam

Randal's Monday, the adventure in which the title character must live the worst day of his life over and over again in order to get back a cursed ring, was just released earlier this month. It features the voice of Jeff Anderson as Randal Hicks, in a nod to his character of Randal in the Clerks series as well as his partner in crime, Dante Hicks. It's available for $25 on GOG.com and is currently 10% off the usual $25 price on Steam.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice Release Dates

The first episode of Game of Thrones, Iron From Ice, now has release dates.  It will be available on December 2 on PC/Mac through the Telltale Store and Steam.  On December 3, it will release for the PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One worldwide.  On December 4, it will release for iOS, and then on December 9 it will release for the PlayStation 3 worldwide.  It will also be coming to Android at an as of yet unannounced date in December.

Dreamfall Chapters Book Two: Rebels Announcement Trailer

Dreamfall Chapters, the third game in The Longest Journey series just had the first chapter, Reborn, released last month.  Now, the title of the second chapter, is revealed to be Rebels.  The announcement trailer contains footage of Chapter One, bringing people up to speed on the game so far, as well as some footage of Chapter Two to give people a taste of what's to come.

Dreamfall Chapters Book Two: Rebels doesn't have a release date yet, but Red Thread Games states that it is coming soon.

Hero-U Will Be Released On October 15, 2015

The Coles have posted a release date for Hero-U, the adventure-RPG hybrid set in the land of the Quest for Glory series, which focuses on a rogue who has to choose whether to continue his path to become a thief or whether to become a hero.

Music for the game is now estimated to be 90% completed, and Lori Ann Cole is making good progress on the writing for the game.  Because Lori Ann and Corey Cole now feel confident in the game's progress to set a release date, they have scheduled Hero-U's release for October 15, 2015.

Broken Age Act II Will Be Released Early Next Year

Greg Rice has posted an update on the release of the second act of Broken Age. Both Shay and Vella's half of Act II is now in alpha, and the finale is expected to get to an alpha state by the end of this year. On top of that, Shay's half of Act II has the voice overs and animation in, so it's heading towards beta. The last recording session for Vella's half of Act II is happening now, so the animation for all of the voice overs can now be done, which will allow the rest of the game to head towards beta as well. Since the game is now playable in alpha state to the finale, and they're now almost wrapped with the remainder of the development of the game, that means that they're now aiming to release of Broken Age Act II early next year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tales from the Borderlands Zer0 Sum Is Out Now

Update November 26: The Xbox 360 date has been moved up to correspond with the Xbox One date, so it's now available worldwide on PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, and for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in North America. The Mac and European PSN versions still have yet to release.

Telltale's Tales from the Borderlands page is now live, and you can buy and play the PC version right now.  The Mac version is not ready yet, but it's coming soon.  Steam will get the PC release later today, as will PSN for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in North America.  It will then be released for Xbox One on November 26, and for Xbox 360 and on PSN for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Europe on December 3.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Shadowgate Remake Includes Original Shadowgate and Deja Vu

For a limited time current owners of the Shadowgate remake as well as those who buy it while the deal is going on will get the original black and white 128k Mac versions and the colorized Apple IIGS versions of both Shadowgate and Deja Vu for free. If you want these games and haven't purchased the Shadowgate remake yet, now is the time to take advantage of this deal as the Shadowgate Remake is currently on sale on Steam for $6.99 USD, 65% off it's usual $19.99 USD price.

If you purchase the game from Steam, you can find the original games in their Steam directories:

Windows:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Shadowgate\retro

Mac:
~/Library/Application Support/Steam/SteamApps/common/Shadowgate/Retro

Downfall Remake Is Coming, Original Downfall Is Now Free

Downfall was the first game by Harvester Games, the creator of The Cat Lady.  It follows Joe Davis, who stops with his wife Ivy for the night at Quiet Haven Hotel, only to find it's not as quiet as he hoped when things start to go wrong.  The story will remain mostly the same, but the most paths leading up to main events will be changed and the dialog has been re-written to make them more interactive in the vein of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us.  It will also have the scrolling and keyboard mechanics of The Cat Lady rather than the point and click control of the original.

The original Downfall is now available to download legally, free of charge.

Kelvin and the Infamous Machine on Kickstarter

The Kelvin and the Infamous Machine Kickstarter is a crowdfunding campaign for a comedy adventure game featuring a time machine made from a standup shower.  The humor is inspired by Day of the Tentacle, and they aim to capture the whimsy of the early 1990's LucasArts adventures.  They are currently about half way to their $20,000 USD goal, with 17 days to go.  So, if this sounds like something that interests you, head to the Kelvin and the Infamous Machine Kickstarter, and pick a pledge tier.

Dave Grossman Joins Reactive Studios

IGN is reporting that Dave Grossman, who recently left Telltale and joined the Duke Grabowski team as a co-designer, has joined Reactive Studios as the chief creative officer.

Reactive Studios is known for their episodic interactive radio spy drama Codename: Cygnus, which was funded through a successful kickstarter campaign. It plays like a choose your own adventure style of game, with branching paths depending on techniques chosen to complete mission objectives. The game shows a tally of these techniques, such as bold vs. secretive or stealthy vs. athletic, adjusting them as you make each decision.

It really does seem like a role suited towards Dave Grossman, and I wish him the best of luck at his new position.

Game of Thrones Available for Preorder

Game of Thrones, Telltale's upcoming 6 episode series based on the HBO series which is based on the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series, is now available to pre-order on Steam for the pre-order discount of 10% off the usual $30 USD price.  A teaser trailer has also been released, showing the graphics in action, and can be seen above.  The first episode, Iron From Ice, is scheduled to be released in December.

Publisher Axes Unannounced Double Fine Game, 12 Laid Off

Double Fine's publisher woes haven't improved as of late it seems, as Gamasutra is reporting that one of Double Fine's unannounced projects was unexpectedly cancelled by its publisher, which led to them having to lay off 12 people.

Tim Schafer states that "Broken Age, Massive Chalice, and Grim Fandango Remastered, were unaffected".

Hopefully those affected get back on their feet soon and I wish them the best of luck in the future.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Evolution of Adventure Games Part IV: Keypad Control

While Japan's adventures were evolving away from text parsers to menus, adventures in the west were doing something quite similar.

In the early 1980's, Sierra On-line began releasing adventures marketed towards children that were adventures with text narration and static graphics but didn't use a parser.  The first of these was Dragon's Keep in 1982. It was marketed as a hi-res learning game, a children's game extension of their hi-res adventures line.  Rather than having a text parser, there was a menu available which let the player choose which action to take next, in a choose your own adventure style.  This engine would be used in Sierra's other children's adventures, including the first adventure games released under Sierra's contract with Disney, until 1984.  

The western market began to evolve in it's own direction with the release of Sierra's King's Quest in 1984.  This game used the Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI) engine, which shared some components with the Dragon's Keep engine, but had a parser and added a direct controlled protagonist.  This addition meant that the game presentation was switched to a first person perspective to a third person perspective.  Third person perspective adventures remain the most popular style of adventures today.

George Lucas founded the Lucasfilm Computer Division in 1979.  Computer games continued to grow in popularity, so in 1982 he began hiring people to join the games group within the computer division, which became Lucasfilm Games and then later LucasArts.  Their first adventure game was Labyrinth, based on the film of the same name. It began completely in text, but then as you entered the labyrinth, the game switched to graphics. It had a direct controlled protaganist and it didn't have a text parser. Instead it had two menus, one with a list of verbs, and another with people and objects to interact with.  This verb object interface would later be refined in their later games created with the Script Utility for Maniac Mansion.

These types of adventures went out of popularity by the end of the 1980's, but as with all forms of entertainment, there are still a small group of people who still make games in these styles. The menu based text adventure gameplay is used in some mobile ports of text adventure engines. There is also a group of fans that still make games using tools that have reverse engineered Sierra's AGI engine so that they can create games using that engine themselves.

Back to Part IIIOn To Part V

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Evolution of Adventure Games Part III: Visual Novels

Adventure games were popular in the early days of the computer industry in North America and Europe, but they didn't immediately catch on in Japan.  There were a few produced in that region, but the early releases didn't catch on with the gaming public.

ASCII released the first text adventures produced in Japan, Omotesando Adventure and Minami Aoyama Adventure, in 1982. These adventure games had limited popularity, and ASCII wouldn't produce another entry in the adventure game genre for several years.  However, when the adventure game genre evolved into the visual novel and became popular with Japanese gaming fans, ASCII continued producing adventure games in this format into the 2000's. ASCII as a separate entity ceased to exist in 2008 when they were absorbed by Media Works, forming ASCII Media Works.  ASCII Media Works has continued to produce visual novels, and still does so today.

The obscurity of adventure games in Japan was fated to be changed after Yuji Horii created The Portopia Serial Murder Case, which was released by Enix in 1983.  It was a hit, especially the 1985 Famicom version which had a point and click menu based interface (which was similar to a three part episodic adventure series released from 1983 to 1984 by T&E Soft titled Legend of Star Arthur). It's success inspired other developers to create similar games. Enix continued to release adventure games and as the genre evolved to visual novels, they continued releasing them. In 2003, Enix merged with Square to become Square Enix.  Square Enix continues to develop visual novels today.

While we're on the subject of Square, it should be mentioned that they also created influential early adventure games. Their first game was a text adventure with static graphics, The Death Trap.  It was released in 1984, before Square was founded as a separate entity.  The 1985 sequel, Will: The Death Trap II, was one of the first animated computer games.  As the genre evolved to visual novels, they continued releasing them. As stated above, in 2003, Square became Square Enix, and continues to release visual novels to this day.

The success of The Portopia Serial Murder Case led to the creation of games which would become known as visual novels.  Although they both started from the same style of text adventures, adventure games evolved differently in Japan as opposed to the adventure games in the west.

Whereas adventures in the west focused on puzzles, in Japan, adventures evolved based on the narrative of text adventures, sharing the choose your own adventure aspect of these games, where the narrative is laid out to the player, and the player interacts with the game to keep the narrative flowing. These types of games became known as visual novels. One of the first influential developers of this new visual novel style of adventure was Hideo Kojima at Konami.  Inspired by The Portopia Serial Murder Case, he created Snatcher, which was released in 1988.  Konami continued releasing visual novels, including Hideo Kojima's own Policenauts in 1994.  They still continue to release visual novels today.

Visual novels are still popular in Japan, and their popularity has increased in the west as well.  One of the companies responsible for the increase of western localizations for visual novels is Capcom.  Although they have been developing visual novels since 1986, it was the Ace Attorney series that was responsible for this spike in western popularity.  The series began in 2001, but when the Nintendo DS remakes were released in 2006, they received an official English translation.  The games proved to be more popular in the west than expected, which led to more official translations.

The amount of translations of visual novels into English has dropped in recent years, but they still continue to be a driving force in Japan, still claiming the majority of sales in the home computer market.  After the 1990's Western adventure games wouldn't share in that popularity, but they also evolved from their text adventure roots to the adventures that are still developed today, although in a much different style than their Japanese counterparts.

Back to Part IIOn To Part IV

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Evolution of Adventure Games Part II: Static Graphics

By the end of the 1970's, adventure games had started to become more than just text, and were displaying static graphics. The first game to do this was Mystery House, developed by the husband and wife team of Roberta and Ken Williams.  Roberta designed the game and drew the simple line graphics required by the program at the time and Ken programmed it and converted the images.  The two founded On-line Systems in 1979 and shipped the game out of their house, originally in a simple bag with a floppy disk containing the game and a sheet of paper describing it. The game was a success, eventually selling 10,000 copies, which was a bonafide hit in the early days of the home computer market.

This led to the formation of the Hi-Res Adventure line, which would continue the concept of Mystery House, with gradually improving graphics, until 1983.  The Williams' On-line Systems would become Sierra On-line and later Sierra Entertainment, becoming one of the leading developers and publishers of computer games until the studio was closed by then-owners Vivendi Universal in 1999.

As I had eluded to in the first part of this article, this style of game was also adapted by other adventure game developers.  Adventure International began the Scott Adams Graphic Adventures line in 1982, re-releasing the original adventures with graphics.  The games published by the studio would continue to be released in both formats, with the text only games released in the Scott Adams Classic Adventures line, until the studio closed in 1985.  All of the Scott Adams Classic Adventures can now be freely downloaded from the Scott Adams Grand Adventures website.

This style of game would also be adapted by the other driving force in text adventures, Infocom. They had first started dabbling in graphics in 1987, with the release of Beyond Zork, which was comprised of text, displayed inside a border, and a simple onscreen map displayed unobtrusively in the upper right hand corner of the screen. The company would go the full route of static images in 1988, and would continue releasing games in this style until the studio was closed by Activision in 1989.

This style of adventure game would go out of favor by the end of the 1980's, as games without a parser had begun to gain dominance and adventures had begun to shift towards third person graphic adventure games where the game's protagonist could be controlled by the player. However, as with text adventures, this style of game hasn't been completely abandoned.  There are a still a handful of developers still releasing text adventures with static graphics, both for free and commercially.

Back to Part IOn to Part III

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Evolution of Adventure Games Part I: Text Adventures

When adventure game websites started in the mid-1990's, adventure games were generally divided into a few categories: interactive fiction, interactive fiction with graphics, 2D first person point and click adventure games, and 3D point and click adventure games (plus a breakdown between the first person and third person perspective for graphic adventures).  There were variations (for instance, the early Sierra titles had a protagonist that was controlled with the keyboard and had the text parser of interactive fiction), but purists stuck to these categories, and anything that didn't adhere to these weren't real adventures.   I was one of those purists then, as my original website for covering adventure games in general was titled Real Adventure in 2000.  There are still purists out there, as there always will be, but today it's much harder to be one, as the genre has continued to evolve and there are now so many variations of adventure games.

The first game that had some of the hallmarks of text adventures was Hunt the Wumpus, a game released by Gregory Yob in 1973. However, the genre wouldn't be kickstarted until Will Crowther released Colossal Cave Adventure on the ARPANet (the precursor to the internet) in 1975. This game was expanded with permission by Don Woods in 1977.  The version by Don Woods was so popular it inspired many designers to create their own games in this style. 

Because of the technical limitations of computers at the time, the filename for Colossal Cave Adventure was ADVENT.  Because of the common shortening of the game's filename, the game became widely known as either Advent or Adventure, leading to the name of the adventure genre as we know it today.

The first adventure games were completely text based because of limitations of the computers of the time, which could not display graphics.  This led to a novel way to experience games, which were written out as descriptive passages, like paragraphs in a novel, and users would input commands which would branch the story based on the command chosen.  This was very similar in practice to a concept that was happening concurrently in print books, which themselves began with the release of Edward Packard's Sugarcane Island in 1976, which were originally known as Adventures of You but later became known as Choose Your Own Adventures.

Colossal Cave Adventure inspired Scott Adams, who founded Adventure International with his wife Alexis to sell their adventure games.  Adventure International released Adventureland in 1978, which was the first commercially published adventure game.  Adventure International continued to produce and sell adventure games (both containing just text and text with static graphics) until they went bankrupt in 1985 as a result of the North American video game crash of 1983.  Scott Adams returned to creating commercial text adventures in 2000, and has released two new text adventures which were published through Scott Adams Grand Adventures.

Colossal Cave Adventure also inspired members of the Massachussets Institute of Technology modeling group, who created an adventure game titled Dungeon, which was later renamed Zork due to a trademark claim by the owners of the Dungeons and Dragons franchise.  This game was released for a mainframe computer, which had much larger storage capacity than the home computers at the time.  When the game's creators, Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling, founded Infocom in 1979 with the intent to sell Zork commercially on home computers, it had to be broken up into three parts. Their first release was Zork I, published in 1980.

Infocom was purchased by Activision in 1986, however they continued to produce text adventures (both containing just text and text with static graphics) until they were closed in 1989. Activision continued releasing adventure games under the Infocom name until the mid 1990's.

Text adventures, which are also known today as interactive fiction, went out of popularity in the 1980's as graphics were introduced to the genre.  However, there are still a small group of developers who still release text adventure games, both for free and commercially.  Variations of the Z-machine engine that Infocom used to create their adventure games are still used to create text adventures to this day.

On To Part II

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick Turn To Kickstarter

The Thimbleweed Park Kickstarter is a crowdfunding effort by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, the creators of Maniac Mansion, to do a retro adventure in the style of that game. According to the Kickstarter page:

Thimbleweed Park is the curious story of two washed up detectives called in to investigate a dead body found in the river just outside of town. It’s a game where you switch between five playable characters while uncovering the dark, satirical and bizarre world of Thimbleweed Park.

If this sounds interesting to you, then head over to The Thimbleweed Park Kickstarter and pick a pledge tier.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Armikrog Trailer

Armikrog, the crowd funded adventure game made with clay by the creators of The Neverhood is progressing nicely. Check the trailer above to get a taste of what happens when a space explorer named Tommynaut and his blind, alien talking dog named Beak-Beak crash land on a weird planet and end up locked in a mysterious fortress called Armikrog.

No release date has yet been set, but both the developer's website and the Armikrog website still state that the game will be released later this year.

17th Anniversary of My First Adventure Game Website

You may have noticed some changes behind the scenes the past few days. I have decided to merge my adventure game websites, as having two is redundant, and it's hard to maintain both.

My other website was originally opened on November 17, 1997 as a Monkey Island fan page titled the Mega Monkey page.  It expanded into a LucasArts fan site on September 18, 1998. It briefly expanded into a general adventure game website called Real Adventure on April 25, 2000, before returning to focusing solely on LucasArts games as I felt a general adventure website was too much for one person to handle at the time. Of course, this site is now a general adventure game website, so my goal has been fulfilled and my idea for an adventure game website has come full circle.

I'm merging all of the old Mega Monkey updates to this website.  I have already added most of the news archives from 1997 to 2000, and I'm working on adding the rest.  This should be fairly painless, as it's all behind the scenes, but if you see any weird news popping up on the RSS or twitter feeds, you'll know what it is.

Thanks for understanding, and thanks for your continued support of both The Adventuress and Mega Monkey over the years.  I appreciate it a lot.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Game of Thrones Screenshots Possibly Leaked

GameInformer is reporting that the twitter account @lifelower, which is dedicated to releasing information on upcoming XBLA games, has released what appears to be leaked screenshots from Telltale's upcoming Game of Thrones.

If these are the first images of Telltale's series, it's looking pretty good. Telltale's Job Stauffer described the style as a living oil painting, and I'd have to concur. I can't wait to see how it looks in motion. You can see some of the images below (click to enlarge):


Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Dream Machine Chapter Five Is Out

The Dream Machine, the excellent dream traveling adventure game made of clay and cardboard, has now been updated with the release of episode five.  So, now our hero can go upstairs and help more of his neighbors get free of the grip of the dreaded dream machine.  There's just one more episode to go before this game is finished, so although it'll take a while to come out and no release date has been announced, now's a good time to catch up if you want to experience the story before the finale.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tales from the Borderlands Preorders Are Open

Tales from the Borderlands is available to preorder on Steam now for 10% off the usual $25USD price, and the page lists the release date as November 25 (though note that Steam dates can sometimes be estimates that change before release. Telltale hasn't announced an official date yet).

In addition, the Tales from the Borderlands launch trailer is here, which means the first episode of the game should be releasing soon, as Telltale's games usually launch within a week or two of the launch trailer. Episode titles haven't been revealed yet, but it's known there will be five episodes and the Australian Classification board lists the name of the first episode as ZER0 SUM. The platforms have been announced as PC, Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and iOS. More platforms will be announced at a later date.

In other Telltale news, they have quietly started shipping the collector's DVDs for The Walking Dead Season Two and The Wolf Among Us. If you have already or are planning on purchasing these games from the Telltale Store, you can get the DVD for the season at just the cost of shipping by clicking buy now at the game's website.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Shivah Mega Review

The Shivah was the game that started Wadjet Eye Games.  It began as a free adventure that was created for the 5th annivesary of the monthly adventure studio competition, and was expanded into a commercial release a few months later, and then was improved again as The Kosher Edition several years after that.  The fact remains that no matter what version you play, The Shivah is still a fantastic adventure.

The game follows Rabbi Stone, who runs a synagogue that is nearing closure due to increasingly lacking attendance.  The Rabbi soon gets a visit from the police, informing him that a man that he had kicked out of his congregation for wanting to marry a non-Jewish woman had been murdered.  To the Rabbi's surprise, it turns out that the man left Rabbi Stone a substantial amount of money in his will.  This puts Rabbi Stone at the top of the police's suspect list, and sets the Rabbi out on a mission to clear his name and to discover why he would be a major benefactor in the man's will.  The story is short, although it has been extended when it went into commercial form, as the free version was shorter.  Even though the game can be completed in a few hours, however, the story is excellent.  The game time is also extended by having several different endings, with satisfying moral implications for each.  The puzzles are well done as well, and a Yiddish to English dictionary is included for both the conversations as well as a few puzzles.  Conversations are put to good use in puzzles, as is the evidence that the Rabbi collects.  Every puzzle is logical, and each fits into the story of the game well.

The free version and the first commercial version are presented in a low resolution format, with pixelized graphics.  The backgrounds are actually quite well done despite the low resolution, and show off the realistic world of the game well, from the dire situation of Rabbi Stone's underfunded synagogue, to the more cheerful situation of more successful competing synagogues, to the gritty locations of the city's downtown.  Dialog from the characters are presented in a large dialog box, which give the characters much more detail than is possible with the pixelized sprites.  These character portraits are done in a realistic style that works well with the background art.  The kosher edition has a higher resolution, so the backgrounds are redrawn.  They did an excellent job making the transition, making the art really look like an upscaled version of the original art.  The character portraits are also slightly improved.  They still keep the detailed realistic style of the original, but the quality of the portraits has improved significantly.  They now have more realistic coloring and shading, and because of the increased resolution, the faces are much more detailed.  The mouths don't move in the portraits in the kosher edition when there are voice overs as they did in the first commercial version.  However, this doesn't detract much, as like the Monkey Island Special Edition, the static portraits actually work well without lip movement.

 The music in the game is purposefully understated, and works well with the serious tone of the game.   In the commercial versions there is also full voice overs, which are performed quite well.  The voice Rabbi Stone has a serious tone that matches the personality of his character, and he portrays a great deal of emotion in the role when it is required, which really helps draw you into the game.  The other characters are portrayed equally well, especially the character of the murdered man's widow.  Her voice actor portrays as much emotion as the Rabbi himself, which is needed considering the circumstances.  The game's villain is also excellent, portraying a calm and cool demeanor that belies a cold, twisted mindset.  The commercial versions are definitely the versions to play, as the voice work is truly excellent.

The first game by Wadjet Eye Games still remains one of their best.  The story is short, but excellent, and the puzzles are well done and fit into the story perfectly.  The art work is presented in a realistic style that fits the tone of the game, and the character portraits are presented in a realistic style that works well with the backgrounds.  The music is understated, but fits the game's world well, and the voice work is truly excellent, with the actors showing a wide range of emotions that work with the serious nature of the game's story.  The commercial versions are the ones to get, as the voice work really draws you into the game's world.  The best option is buying the game from GOG.com, as it includes both the original commercial version and the shivah edition remake with higher definition graphics for the same price.  Although it's quite short, it's still worth playing, as it is an excellently crafted adventure that deserves to be played by anyone that enjoys serious point and click adventure games.

Final Verdict:

4½ out of 5

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ben Jordan: The Cardinal Sins Review

The penultimate case of Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator is Ben's most dangerous yet, and it is also one of the best of the series.

Ben receives a mysterious call from a man in prison in Rome, who was given his number by an unknown caller.  The man murdered a priest, and claims that a demon made him do it.  Even though Ben doesn't like the circumstances behind the call, he heads to Rome with his friends in order to investigate the crime.  This is the darkest case yet, but it is also one of the best written.  The tension builds up right to the last minute of the episode, and plot threads are tied together masterfully.

This case once again has voice work, and like the deluxe editions, the voices are all well done though some times the audio volume varies.  The quality is as expected for a free indie adventure, but it is worth playing with voices on though.  The voices all work for the characters, with the three main characters in particular all receiving suitable voice performances for their personalities.  The personalities of the characters here really do shine, and both returning characters and the new characters that are important to the story arc are given a lot of background information.

The series has always been good at showing the wonder of the locations despite the low resolution, and that trend continues here.  Rome is a place with a lot of history, and a lot of mystery, and that's shown off quite well here.  The character portraits are all well done here as well, and once again fit with the game's art work, and show off a good deal more of the character than is possible with small sprites.  The music is also well done, with the exception of one early song which had some notes that grated a bit.  This didn't last long though, and the rest of the game's music was up to the high standards set by the rest of the games in the series.  The puzzles here are also pretty good this time around.  The missteps from the previous episode aren't repeated here, and all of the puzzles fit the world of the game.

Ben Jordan's seventh case is one of his strongest.  The missteps in the puzzles from the previous episode are made up for here, as all of the puzzles are well done, and all fit within the logic of the game's world.  There is one song that grates a bit, but the rest of the music is wonderful and fits the game's world quite well.  The audio volume of the voice work varies, but the voices are done pretty well for a free indie adventure, and all of the voices fit the character's personalities.  The best part of the game though is its story.  It is a wonderful, yet dark, tale, telling a suspenseful story where the tension builds up right up to the exiting final moments.  It ties up the plot threads together wonderfully, while leaving enough anticipation for the finale to come.

Final Verdict:

4½ out of 5