Following Freeware: November 2012 releases


Worldgate

The year is 1888, and a mining expedition in Wyoming has made a startling discovery. About 50 feet down, a perfectly spherical chamber has been discovered. Within this strange void rests a device that appears to pull electricity out of the ether. More mysterious still, further excavation has unearthed a second device that appears to be some sort of doorway. When the crystal rods located nearby are inserted, it offers up passages to other worlds. Will this prove a fantastic boon for mankind, or would it have been better to leave it buried?

In the debut episode of a new series, William Buchanan offers the first journey to fantastical worlds. Presented in first-person view, the display is high-quality, realistic 3D. Starting off at your remote mining camp, you will delve deep into the earth and then on to a strange alien world. Whilst the Earth setting has the appropriate technology of the time, such as Leyden jars to power the mine lights, the alien setting is full of bizarre devices. Forward movement is strictly slideshow-based, though turning results in a sweep of the intervening view. There are also limited animations, such as a key turning in a lock. An ambient sci-fi musical tune plays in the background throughout.

Control is mainly point-and-click, though there is a selectable keyboard option for navigation. The initial challenge is to light up the pitch-black tunnel of the dig. After this you will mostly be exploring the world on the other side of the gate, with its unearthly sky and strange new devices. Every inventory item has an examine button attached that allows close-up viewing. This is vital to progress, as item combination is only possible when zoomed in and other items need to be manipulated to get full use of them. There is a code lock, but most puzzles involve item application, with some objects being used in more than one way. This first chapter only allows you to explore one new world, but future episodes promise a wider range of environments.

Worldgate can be played online at JayIsGames.


Monster Detective

I’m a private eye, but not the sort you call in for just any old case. I’m the man they call when weird things happen, when the facts of a case seem to suggest that something beyond the mundane world is involved. Now I have been called to Fog Town to investigate a missing woman. She had been looking into a series of strange disappearances, and had been doing a lot of investigation into vampires. I just hope I can find her before it’s too late.

The latest offering from Pastel Games is a noir thriller with a horror twist. The graphics are black and white in a line-drawn style, though with varying line width and shading to give scenes depth. These are mostly presented in first-person, though the eponymous detective does appear on-screen in some scenes. There are limited animations, including a rolling tram car. The look gives the setting a dark, oppressive feel. The town where you start feels vaguely sinister and the commanding tower and church of later sections feel even worse. This is backed up by the eerie, breathy-sounding background music of external areas, and the no-more-soothing internal keyboard piece. Sound effects of echoing footsteps and creaking machinery also add to the atmosphere.

Whilst not particularly gruesome, the tone of the story is gothic horror. Starting in the town where the missing woman was investigating, you begin by tracing the path of her inquiries. As you find out more about her work, you learn that she may be in great danger, as she could be the key to an ancient ritual. Fixing machinery, opening secret passageways and some simple dialogue puzzles all advance your quest for answers. Whilst you will be put in dangerous situations, there are no points where quick reflexes are required. The story builds to a satisfyingly dramatic conclusion, with a hint that we may hear more from the monster detective in the future.

Monster Detective can be played online at Cool Buddy.


Hood Episode 4

Even having cleared her of the accusations of witchcraft, I have continued to track the hooded girl. Now her trail has led me beyond the mortal realm into the world of spirits. My kind are not welcome in this place, and hostile reactions and strange barriers are to be expected. Worse, the place leeches on the memories of those residing here, and my memories are already starting to form part of its landscape. Even as I struggle to keep from losing myself, it appears there is more going on here than a simple missing girl. Could my pursuit have greater consequences than I realised?

The fourth episode brings this tale from Hyptosis to a close. The artwork is still the hand-painted style of the previous games, though the detail has improved noticeably over the course of the series. The spirit world is a gloomy place, with the backgrounds rendered in shades of blue, the only other colours coming from the land’s various inhabitants. Starting in a forest, you will travel to a dungeon, each of which is littered with odd items created from the memories of the spirits. These include objects from previous games, as the memories of the player character start to be included. The game is presented in the same first-person slideshow format as before. These scenes also include some limited animation. The familiar music-box musical theme of the previous episodes continues to play here. There are also some appropriate sound effects, including the music of a bard.

Players really need to play the previous instalments, linked in the title screen, to understand what is going on here. The story includes numerous references to past events beyond the simple fact of the missing girl. In particular, an important element from an earlier episode plays a vital part in the end-game of this one. You carry some items from previous episodes, most notably an animated pumpkin which protects you from spirits. Using this on almost any item results in a humorous response. Otherwise, the story is a slightly grim one, with inventory, some combination puzzles and some riddles keeping you from your goal.

Hood Episode 4 can be played online at Newgrounds.

Continued on the next page...



Related Games

Full English

Platform(s): Mac, PC

Gray

Platform(s): PC

Worldgate

Platform(s): Mac, PC

Monster Detective

Platform(s): Mac, PC

Hood: Episode 4

Platform(s): Mac, PC

Why Am I Dead?

Platform(s): Mac, PC

The Proposal

Platform(s): Mac, PC

Future City 3000

Platform(s): PC



Following Freeware

About the Author
stepurhan's avatar
Steve Brown
Freeware Coordinator

Comments

Fitz
Jan 1, 2013

You may have noticed the link to ‘Gray’ isn’t working. As luck would have it, AGS chose to migrate to a new server/host just last night—rendering all database links useless: So for anyone interested, here’s the currecnt link: http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/site/games/game/1627/

Dag Dag
Jan 3, 2013

Full English is pretty cool, if you’re looking for something funny to kill some time. Don’t expect a challenge though. As I understand, it was intentionally made very easy so that even non-gamers (not just non-adventurers) would have a steady flow in progress. The game features outstanding British humor, however, of a more modern style than the Monty Python-inspired humor found in games like Simon the Sorcerer or Discworld.

diego diego
Jan 3, 2013

It’s a rare occasion that such artistic impression can be achieved with so few colors like in Gray, will have to try it!

stepurhan stepurhan
Jan 4, 2013

Full English is undeniably British humour, with a great modern British comic actor, Richard Ayoade, as the dad.

The look in Gray very much comes across as a deliberate artistic choice and, in my opinion, a pretty good one.

Fitz
Jan 25, 2013

Thanks, Diego Smile Hope you enjoyed playing it!

Stepurhan: Yeah, it’s not like my graphic card only allows four colors Wink The story behind choosing this particular set of colors is silly, actually: I have four rubber stamps at work - one with a blue casubg, a red one, an orange one and a very old and dirty white one, which now looks beige. And I always wanted to do something using those colors (I also make webcomics, check http://www.drunkduck.com/A_Bit_Cheesy/ if you’re interested). So one day I scanned the stamp casings - and used these colors as a template ever since. Love it so much I will keep it for future games, too (which I hope to start making sometime this year).



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