The Book of Unwritten Tales

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Developer: King Art | Released: 2009 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click

I played roughly the first two and a half hours of this one before I called it quits. It was an oldskool point-and-click fantasy adventure with good voice acting and excellent backgrounds. It was also quite easy. You could hold down space to reveal all hotspots, and although inventory items were aplenty, the cursor only went red when something could be combined or used on a hotspot.

This also got rid of the dismissing comments for trying everything. Everybody wins.

In fact, the adventure game was so charming and relaxing that I understand all the praise it has received in reviews. I know this is starting to become a cliché, but had this been 15-20 years ago, I would have swallowed this game whole. But today, I’m worn out on adventure games and it has to offer something really special to keep me in the zone. And that was the problem with this game. Although it did have its moments of inspired ideas, there were not enough of them, and the dialogs were missing a little more of the reckless quality found in the classics.

In other words, the game was missing a bit more bite.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

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Developer: The Chinese Room | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

This was not just a walking simulator, but also the spiritual successor to Dear Esther from the same developer – one of the games that spawned that genre description.

And this time were were very literal about the first word in this game.

It was made in the same 3D engine used for Far Cry and Crysis. I explored a reasonably big English village totally devoid of people, with abandoned cars, still smoking cigarettes, and hot cups of tea. The game used a peculiar mix of a wide open non-linear town combined with the desire to lead me around in a linear manner, and to help with that, glowing “ghost” spheres were sometimes floating around, guiding me to new locations with more story to unveil.

The story was told in the form of placeholders made of light points representing the humans that originally had a conversion in various spots. Typically just a casual talk, a lovers quarrel or musings about a strange nose bleeding flu taking over the town. Most of these lasted barely half a minute or so and then I was on my way again, looking for the next scene.

Outlast

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Developer: Red Barrels | Released: 2013 | Genre: Adventure, Horror

I played over an hour of this horror sneaker, up until I was given an injection and put in a small cell. That was after the part where I had to restore power in the basement. I’m not a good demographic for horror games anymore, though. It takes a lot to scare an old geezer like me anymore. Sure, the jump scares can get me, but anyone can be surprised by a sudden shout in the neck.

Also, the hiding in the lockers reminded me too much of Alien: Isolation.

But the game was still well done. Good graphics, solid sound work, and the body awareness with hands and all was nice. Armed with only a camcorder, I could film stuff to take notes and switch on the night vision, which was frequently required in the often pitch black mental hospital. Sometimes there was a monster roaming an area, like the cellar where I had to turn on two gas pumps and a main breaker to restore power. Lots of sneaking and running around there.

There was a strange part in the beginning where I had to sneak past a few sitting brutes watching snow on a bloodstained television. They must have seen me, but they ignored me. I’m not sure if the fact that I had to do this was good design. If only I had felt the horror of this sequence.

Dr. Langeskov…

Developer: Crows Crows Crows | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

This is probably one of the shortest narrative PC games I’ve ever completed. It barely took 20 minutes for one playthrough. Good thing it was free.

It was made by the same developer that made the hilarious The Stanley Parable, which I enjoyed back in 2014. However, this small spiritual successor was not as funny nor as imaginative. It had a meddlesome narrator again, commenting on my good or bad choices, but there were barely a few rooms to navigate with doors kept closed until it was time to move on.

All right, there were perhaps a few mild laughs from continuously hanging up phones, and the idea of pulling levers and pressing buttons to keep the real video game player behind the curtains busy was a great idea, but the length and the few rooms barely made it feel like a small DLC.

I started a second playthrough to check out the tape recorder and the audition tapes, but they were a little too forced and boring for my liking. I quit the game as I entered the tiger room.

Maybe the novelty of The Stanley Parable has already worn off.

6/10

The Wolf Among Us

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Developer: Telltale Games | Released: 2013 | Genre: Adventure, 3D

It took me precisely two hours to complete the first of five episodes in this cel shaded adventure game from the creators of a similar adventure game for The Walking Dead. It used the same 3D engine and a lot of the same rules and a heavy focus on story and dialog.

I won’t be going into the details of the story much. Fairy tale characters are living in New York, some are morphed into humans, some still resembling the fantasy animals they were. I controlled Sheriff Bigby Wolf, investigating clues found at murder scenes and sometimes pursuing or fighting brutes in action scenes with lots of arduous QTE popping up all over the place.

Bigby himself reminded me so much of Wolverine. They could have been twin brothers.

The dialog is typically around four choices with a timeout of varying length. Sometimes it was too short for me to make a proper decision, making me feel like a slowpoke. A few times I even had a choice of two locations or actions to decide between, and it actually seemed like putting one of the locations on hold had grave consequences.

Into the Badlands: Season 1

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I’ve just watched the first season of this on Amazon Prime, and I found a lot to like in it.

Especially the first episode had a great first-hand impression. Here Sunny arrives, an Asian Neo only in red instead of black and without sunglasses. He encounters a camp of an evil gang and proves this show has an excellent fight choreography.

If only Iron Fist had been anything like this.

Sunny finds the kid M.K. and brings him back to the fort of his master, the baron Quinn. M.K. have secret superpowers whenever he gets cut, something the show wisely keeps rare to begin with. The show opens up to present several feudal baron monopolies, each living in a mansion surrounded by their clippers (fighters) and cogs (slaves). Not surprisingly the barons really dislike each other and Quinn frequently clashes with some of them, especially the redheaded Widow.

Sunny also have a love interest now illegally pregnant and begins toying with the idea of leaving the baron, taking his chances in the Badlands together with her and M.K.

The fighting choreography always mixes “wire fu” martial arts occasionally with blades. Turns out the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where some commodities have been exhausted. Apparently all the ammo for guns and rifles have been depleted forcing everyone to fight the way they do, but we still see a few motorcycles and cars driving around.

So, all the ammo is gone, but the gasoline is still aplenty? I see.

Farscape: Season 1

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The television show Farscape originally premiered back in 1999, and I bought a couple of season boxes around the same time and binge-watched every minute of them.

It was an vexing experience at the time.

For some odd reason the season boxes had no subtitles and I often had trouble keeping track of what everyone was saying. I had watched all the seasons of modern Star Trek on VHS without subtitles and it was fine there. Patrick Stewart and his acting colleagues spoke so clearly that I never lost the thread. Farscape, on the other hand, sounded more muddled. Maybe they spoke faster, or the music was louder. Either way, I gave up after those two seasons.

That’s why it was great news when Amazon Prime announced that they had picked up this old science fiction show. And now with English subtitles too? Excellent!

I have now rewatched all of the first season. To be honest it doesn’t hold up that well today. It’s nowhere as bad as e.g. Space: 1999 or Blake’s 7 – both of which are quite excrutiating to watch today – but there are still a number of issues now 20 years later.

Associations: Teleporter Spheres

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In Obduction, the excellent first person adventure game I completed last month, teleporting between domes replaced the matter in the shape of a small sphere. This explained when discovering other spheres of solid rock with crevices in them – even if some of them didn’t have a teleporter device in them.

Here are two examples from the game.

Refunct

Developer: Dominique Grieshofer | Released: 2015 | Genre: Platform, First Person

If you want a game with small and relaxing sessions to do once in a while, this is a great choice.

I did one session that took just a tad below half an hour, and it was easy and delightful. It’s a first person platform game with no story attached to it. Usually platform jumping doesn’t always work that well in first person, but it actually works reasonably fine here. Also, you can’t die in this game.

The purpose is to jump on a few pylons and step on a big red button to raise a set more from the sea, including another red button among them. Sometimes another pylon has a red cube to munch up. There are sometimes yellow elevator platforms or jump pads, and the wall jumping from pylon to pylon feels right. It is also possible (and sometimes necessary) to dive down into the water.

When all red buttons are activated, stepping on the last yellow one zooms up the camera for a view of the entire cluster. And if you also touch all the top surfaces (marking them with grass) you get fireworks.

To spice things up further, there are sometimes tubes that can swoop you to the other side of it, and some red buttons may be slightly hidden and require crouching or swimming up from below. However, they always have a red beam pointing into the sky so they’re always easy to spot.

The game is designed to be replayed. Maybe I’ll do it again later.

TitleLengthDatesDiff / ChtSaveScore
Refunct
2015 Dominique Grieshofer~30m 1
2019-06-07
2019-06-07
8