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.

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

To see a page with all the PC games I have played – along with an explanation of the abbreviations – click here.

35MM

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Developer: Носков Сергей | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

This game was full of surprises. It started out with a way too long slow walk through a forest, me and a buddy of few words, making it look like a boring walking simulator facile adventure, but after the almost six hours it took to complete it, it had also been a real adventure game with objects to find, puzzles to solve, a railroad trolley to ride, and at times even a genuine FPS with a gun or an assault rifle.

Sometimes the game reminded me of I Am Alive, sometimes of INFRA.

It was a bleak first person adventure with a notebook for keeping tabs of inventory icons. Damage or fatigue had to be fixed with medikits or food and a flashlight needed batteries. My buddy usually dictated the direction to walk, but I was free to break off and explore the areas for loot. I could cut ropes on door handles for access or take completely pointless pictures with an old camera.

Sometimes a rare QTE made me mash buttons to complete a cutscene, like winning a fist fight.

The game honestly had too much exploration of areas for way too little loot. There were sometimes several houses or even floors in buildings where I had to search dark rooms for loot, yet too often it was rarer than finding visitors for this blog. There were also traps. After a few exploding deaths I learned to look for wires in door openings that could be cut with my knife.

After a few levels of solitude, my buddy and I started meeting people. There were no dialog trees, but there were often small talks, letters to read, a puzzle, or a task like finding a car battery to power something.

Then evil people started showing up.

Red Trigger

Developer: Maxime Vézina | Released: 2016 | Genre: Puzzle, First Person

This was a free first person puzzle game akin to the genre that Portal and its sequel gave rise to. Just like Parallax, the also excessively white first person puzzle game I tried last month, it was devoid of any story and just felt like a series of training levels. I was actually contemplating leaving it for the same reason, but before I knew it, it was all over. It barely took even an hour to complete its eight chapters.

Each challenge room had a set of red piston surfaces I could shoot for them to slide out. Some I had to walk on, some could push me into the air and maybe onto a platform, another might give me a sideways boost. I had limited energy too, meaning that not too many red pistons could be out and about. Sometimes I had to look back and shoot a few to contract them.

The challenges were quite diverse. Some had me thinking about how to arrange the red pistons for me to traverse the room. Some blocked lethal red lasers. Other challenges had a timer for e.g. resetting doors or pistons, and those were of course my least favorite type. Especially a nasty room with a slowly rising grid of red lasers had me fumbling and dying repeatedly. I almost left the game at that point.

It was clearly the worst room in the entire game.

In the later chapters, a swirling corridor could turn the previous room upside down, although this was barely used twice. And as the game was about to end, a small smattering of a story suddenly appeared by having to shut down a reactor and then flee the electronic lava rising everywhere. Again dexterity was required, but it actually wasn’t that bad. After two or three retries I was past it, and it was often fun. The game also started having checkpoints in the middle of some challenge rooms.

I just wish the developer had also added one in the room with the rising grid of red lasers.

TitleLengthDatesDiff / ChtSaveScore
Red Trigger
2016 Maxime Vézina58m 1
2019-05-31
2019-05-31
7

To see a page with all the PC games I have played – along with an explanation of the abbreviations – click here.

Obduction

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Developer: Cyan Worlds | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

This was a non-linear first person adventure made by the creators of Myst and its many sequels. I was a backer when it was announced as a Kickstarter campaign a few years ago. Although Obduction has its own story that doesn’t have anything in common with Myst, it didn’t take long before I discovered that it was very much a spiritual kinsgame. Cyan Worlds didn’t stray away from their field of excellence.

In this game, the big domes replaced the ages (or islands) in Myst, but they were just as environmentally diverse, and the world got bigger and more prone to me getting stuck, the more doors I unlocked.

After a quick abduction I arrived in a sandy canyon with bubbly pieces of human structures from various points of recent human history. A cute network of trolley rails were intersecting it all, and there were a lot of locked doors. No humans, except C.W., who only mentioned very broad tasks through a door window whenever I had made substantial progress. I had to figure out almost everything on my own.

It took me about 20-21 hours to complete this game. It could have been done in about 12-15 hours, but I was stuck for several hours on a couple of occasions. The world got quite enormous when there were three alien domes to navigate between. After unlocking a few doors and getting the trolley running on the rails, the general puzzle mechanic was almost always finding and opening more stuff.

Californium

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Developer: Darjeeling | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

This exploration game – or walking simulator as some would call it – was estimated to be ~3 hours long, and that’s exactly what it took for me to get complete it.

The art and color scheme of this game was out of this world and certainly worth the price of admission all on its own. Each of the four levels had a its own time period and distinctive colors to set them apart, and all humans (and later androids) were old-fashioned 2D sprites always turning the same side to you – albeit sharply drawn like were they cut straight out of a comic book. I really enjoyed this lovely style.

Being part of the genre it was, the game itself was light on interactivity. A level typically had 4-5 “rooms” plus the streets in which to find a television showing a roman numerical of white icons to find. Depending on the size of the “room” it could be about 3 to 6 icons. The icons themselves had to be spotted and then activated by holding left mouse button on them for about one second.

Yeah, the good old game of getting warmer.