Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Walking Dead Episode 1 is Out on iOS

The Walking Dead: Episode 1 - A New Day is now out for iPad 2 and up and iPhone 4 and up (it won't work on earlier devices) from the iTunes store. This version redesigns the interface to use the touch screen of the iOS interface, including swiping the screen to move yourself to move away from danger in the action scenes.

ScummVM 1.5.0 "Picnic Basket" Released

ScummVM, the program that lets you play classic 2D adventure games on many devices (from Windows, Mac, and Linux, to Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, iOS, Android, and more), is now at 1.5.0 with the release of "Picnic Basket". Along with the 2D LucasArts adventure games, most 2D Sierra adventure games, most 2D Revolution Software games, and countless others, the new release supports Blue Force, Dreamweb, Geisha, Sołtys (including an English translation for the first time), and the children's games Backyard Baseball 2003, Gregory and the Hot Air Balloon, Magic Tales: Liam Finds a Story, Sleeping Cub's Test of Courage, and The Princess and the Crab.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Point-and-Click Adventure Review: The Dream Machine: Chapter 2

The second chapter of The Dream Machine certainly has a lot to live up to, as it's the first chapter of the game which is not free to play.  Luckily, it not only manages to live up to expectations but exceeds them as this game is much better than the already endearing first chapter.

The chapter begins in the landlord's seemingly empty apartment. I have to point out here that if you play chapter one directly into chapter two the chapters transition seamlessly into each other. This is the first time I have seen an episodic game do this, but it was handled so well, I find myself hoping other studios do this in their future games.

The first part of the game involves finding out where your landlord is hiding.  This part is entertaining, and the puzzles are challenging yet follow logic well.  But, the game really begins once you discover the titular dream machine.  You won't truly track down your landlord until you search for him in his dreams, and the team really amps up the art and puzzle quality once you do.

The clay and cardboard art design were wonderful in the first chapter, but in the dream world, it really shines.  The art direction really evokes a sense of wonder, and the fogginess present in your landlord's dream really fits his character.  The storyline is handled well as well, as you meet characters in the dream world that are memories of people he's known and symbols of people he's never known but holds in high regard.  These characters let you discover more about the landlord as a character, as well as uncover his motivations behind the machine.

The puzzles here are really creative.  They have a different logic to them than the puzzles in the first chapter, as you are now in the dream world.  So, there's a "dream logic" at play here.  The solutions are whimsical, but they are believable within the context of the world.  They all consist of puzzles that exist just to help the dream characters. However, there is a feeling of accomplishment once you have solved them, as each puzzle leads to a more interesting backstory being unfolded. It's all handled very organically, and it works out really well.

While still not containing anything which will stick in your head after the game is over, the music is also used to good effect in this chapter The music is spooky yet whimsical and helps give the scenes extra atmosphere. It really goes hand in hand with the wondrous artwork.

The Dream Machine Chapter Two takes everything that made chapter one so fun and improves upon it in every way. While the game is still a bit short, and the heavy text of the game practically calls for having full character voices (although there is an option for an automated narrator using a computer voice for the hearing impaired), its shortcomings are far outweighed by the positives. The engaging storyline, excellent art design, and fun puzzles would have been at home in a game made during the golden age of adventures.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

Insecticide Part II Cutscenes Released

Crackpot's action adventure hybrid, Insecticide, went through some tough times during it's development. The game was supposed to come out on PC and PlayStation Portable, so both platforms would get the same game. But, the PSP version was shelved and it was moved to the Nintendo DS. The entire game was released on the Nintendo DS (although it was slimmed down from it's PC counterpart due to the hardware restrictions of the platform, losing voice acting and having still frames rather than animation in some of the cutscenes). Publisher Gamecock decided to release the PC version as a two part episodic release. The first part was finished and released, but Gamecock was purchased by Southpeak Interactive before the second part was finished. The new publisher scrapped the second part, and Insecticide has gone unfinished on PC ever since.

The good news is that the cutscenes were finished for the second part of the PC version, and were promised to be released for years. Any legal or other hurdles that were preventing the release of the cutscenes have finally been overcome, as the entire Insecticide PC cutscene collection (including both Part I and the unreleased Part II) has been released on YouTube. So, the Nintendo DS version is still the only way to play the full game of Insecticide, but PC users at least can experience most of the story now.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Enter the Story: A Winter's Tale and Tempest

Chris Tolworthy continues his quest to make choose-your-own adventure games out of the world's best known literature. He has released two more games since I updated last. The games are based on A Winter's Tale and The Tempest, two plays by William Shakespeare that feature jealousy and treachery by royalty. A Winter's tale follows a servant who is ordered by the king to kill the king's childhood friend because he's blinded by jealousy and believes the friend is sleeping with his wife, although he is innocent. The Tempest sees a magician, the rightful Duke, who is banished by his jealous brother, get revenge on his brother by causing his ship to become shipwrecked by a magical tempest. The games are partially playable online and can be unlocked by ordering the games in a bundle for $15. The bundle also includes the five original offline adventure games created with Adventure Game Studio.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 2 & Season 1 Retail

Polygon, the gaming site of The Verge, received confirmation direct from Telltale that "the five-episode series would not be the only games set in the Walking Dead universe that the studio plans on creating".

Telltale also plans to bring it's first five episodes to retail in stores in North America after the fifth episode has been released.

Also, it's not adventure game news, but it's related and it's intriguing: Activision announced that they will be publishing a first person shooter by Terminal Reality based on the television series, rather than the comic (the universe in which Telltale's games are based), confusingly named The Walking Dead Video Game. A first person shooter based on the character-driven The Walking Dead universe seems like a poor fit, but there is supposedly limited ammunition and stealth options available as well. The Walking Dead Video Game will be released in 2013. Telltale's game has not yet received a release date, but I'd imagine the FPS announcement might have an impact. I'm sure they don't want to go head to head with Activision.