Sunday, June 29, 2014

Game Reviews - June.

Richard and Alice 

Richard & Alice is best described as interactive fiction with a few easy puzzles thrown in. The graphics just about manage to equal a console game from the 90's but but don't let that put you off.

Richard & Alice tells the story of the two eponymous characters, who for much of the game are in an unusual prison which provides its inmates with leather sofas and televisions. The game is set in an unspecified future period in which unexpected weather systems have led to half the planet being covered with snow and ice, an event for which governments were not prepared. This led to the downfall of society. Players alternate between the present day prison environment, where Richard is the playable character, and a series of flashbacks in which Alice is the playable character. [link]

A game like this lives or dies on it's script and thankfully the story is excellent and genuinely touching in places. A few times I found myself genuinely anxious over leaving Barney, Alice's son, behind while I forged for supplies. The game is short - you can finish it in a single sitting, but this is reflected in the price.

I would rank it alongside Papers Please! as examples of what small indie PC games are capable of.

Score: Good fun for what it is: 7/10

Don't Starve

Don't Starve is an intriguing little survival game frequently described as minecraft drawn by Tim Burton. The player is dropped into a nightmareish world with the only goal of surviving as long as possible. Each game day is split into day, dusk and night cycles. The day is spent exploring, forging materials for cooking and crafting survival equipment. The nights are spent either wondering around with just the narrow light of a torch or huddling around a campfire preparing for the next day. Each game has a randomly generated world and each death is permanent aside from the two or three respawn points a player can unlock in each world.

I loved the look and feel of the game, but the lack of an actual goal or purpose rendered continual play pointless. During a typical game I found myself exploring and searching for a suitable area to create a home. A suitable area would be one with resources like berry bushes for food, trees for lumber and animals for the manure needed to create farms. Once my home was built - a shelter made from rocks with wooden floor, a few crafted objects and a stable food supply - the game felt pointless and I was left with a 'now what?' feeling. There is an adventure mode featuring challenges which can be unlocked within a game but having unlocked it once, I had no practical desire to do so every game.

There is an multiplayer mode coming which could offer very interesting possibilities if players are allowed to hunt and kill each other. If this happens, I will certainty be back.

Score:  Very enjoyable game but let down by the absence of an 'end game' goal: 8/10

Shadows on the Vatican -Act 1

The Vatican series is a point-and-click adventure series based upon David Yallop's controversial bestselling novel ‘In God’s Name’. The player controls James, an American ex-priest returning to Rome to investigate murder and financial corruption in the heart of the Vatican.

The plot is interesting; backdrops and comic book cut scenes are well produced. But the character animation is poor with James moving around the screen in shuffling, jerky movements. The voice acting is mediocre with the American sounding actors trying to mimic an Italian accent.

I completed this first installment in under three hours and found it a disappointing experience. In fairness the first chapter of the adventure game is frequently the weakest as the game needs to introduce the characters and develop the plot. Would I buy episode 2? Yes but I would hope for an improvement.

Score: A lackluster point and click adventure with standard puzzles. Recommended for fans of the genre only:  6/10
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