Following Freeware: November 2012 releases


Why Am I Dead?

In the hotel owner’s office, a man lies dead. His spirit, hovering over this sad sight, feels unable to move on without finding out the cause of his demise. Possessing a nearby young man, he sets about this task. The hotel is cut off in a storm and help is not coming any time soon. With the investigation turning up strange and disturbing facts about the people in the hotel, there may be more to this death than first meets the eye.

With both a simple look and gameplay, Peltast Design have nevertheless created a compelling little story. The graphics are done in a retro pixel style, reminiscent of many old top-down role-playing games. The ghost protagonist is a vaguely humanoid shape with a pulsing outline that floats around. The guests and staff of the hotel are all small but distinct figures, with full walking animations. These range from the white-shirted hotel manager to the disturbing man who seems to only wear a raincoat. The backgrounds show simply furnished hotel rooms with little details such as bottles scattered on a drunkard’s floor. The action is backed up by the sound of the storm, together with an ominous booming noise as you pass from room to room.

Using the keyboard, your possession of the other people in the hotel only gives you limited control. Whilst you are able to move characters around freely, you are unable to collect any items, and your conversations with others are limited to dialogue choices appropriate to the currently possessed character. The game therefore revolves around a complicated series of dialogue puzzles, as you switch characters to get different options to progress. As you discover more about what is going on in the hotel, some characters will gain knowledge from your conversations, which will affect both your dialogue choices and their responses when you question them as another character. You'll encounter an interesting variety of people, from the idealistic Cricket seeking to solve the mystery to the frankly disturbing Orvall the exhibitionist. The story twists and turns, leading to a satisfyingly dramatic conclusion.

Why Am I Dead? can be played online at Newgrounds.


The Proposal

Josh had a wonderful evening planned with his girlfriend Becky. He was going to take her to a grand ball, propose to her and then enjoy a special reservation at the Orchid hotel. But when he returned home after putting his plans together, a terrible shock awaited him. A note taped to his door said that she never wanted to see him again. Certain the note is a forgery, Josh sets out to find his missing love. Perhaps the jealous-looking man with the saucepan on his head in the jewellery store is involved.

This light story from Carmel Games provides a casual adventure in pursuit of love. The graphics are a bold cartoon style, with shading used to give depth to the backgrounds. As well as Becky’s strangely empty apartment, you will visit the China Panda restaurant and the swanky Orchid hotel. The characters are smoothly animated, with many having idle animations, such as a fortune teller gently swaying in a trance. There are limited sound effects and a soundtrack that fits each location, including a creepy tune that plays in the local graveyard.

The tone of this adventure is light and gently humorous. Your collected items appear at the bottom of the screen, ready for selection to use in the environment. The game also features a map showing a street level view of the local area, which provides quick travel from location to location. As well as inventory-based puzzling, you will have a simple map-based puzzle to solve. You will also engage in a bit of light gambling, though with a machine that is apparently rigged to produce the results necessary to advance the story.

The Proposal can be played online at Mouse City


Future City 3000

Having hacked for a while now, you are starting to have trouble telling reality from the online world. People look like icons and the world seems grey and empty. Now your talents are being sought by people that won’t take no for an answer. But your apartment building has been sealed off by the police as they investigate illegal access to the online computer matrix. With your life on the line if you don’t come through, you’ll need to keep your wits about you. Maybe Natalya can help.

Set in a slightly surreal-looking dystopian future, this game from Ben Weatherly is a grim tale. The backgrounds are high-rise blocks in varying shades of grey. By contrast, the people are bright blue pixelated forms, reminiscent of early video game avatars. Their movement is equally limited, as walking around largely consists of characters wobbling back and forth without moving their legs at all. They do have limited animations, such as a policeman restlessly moving his shield and baton up and down, though these once again mimic early RPG avatars' simple-cycle animations. The background music is a laid-back synthesiser piece, matching the retro cyberpunk setting. There are also some sound effects which mainly add to the retro game feel.

The hacker player character is prone to dark introspection, adding to the down-beat tone already established by the graphical appearance. The problem of the online matrix world's pixelated avatars bleeding into reality is also a repeated feature, with some characters apparently winking in and out of reality as if they had simply been turned on and off. Using a small amount of inventory, you will initially deal with the problem of getting into your apartment. Discovering that your computer has been trashed by the cops, you then have to travel in search of your friend Natalya. You will also engage in some brief dialogue puzzling before revealing the truth behind your nightmarish situation.

Future City 3000 can be downloaded from the AGS website.
 



Other new releases

Not all games are created equal, and freeware games especially come in all shapes and sizes.  Not to be overlooked, the following list might also be of interest, though these games may be significantly shorter or less polished, more experimental titles than those detailed above, some perhaps only borderline adventures to begin with.

Donald Dowell and the Ghost of Barker Manor by Athena Games – A pensioner embarks on a new career in this short playable demo.

Errand by Crystal Shard – A young girl turns her household errands into a dramatic adventure.

Yves by Begamer – When a brilliant idea strikes him, Yves needs to gather a strange collection of objects to realise his vision.

Polar Tale by Begamer – Join a little polar bear in a quest for sun.

A Nightmare 2: Apocalypse – When the world is overrun with the undead, what will you do to survive?

Sister’s Little Helper by Pierrec – At the end of the day, sister just needs a little something and a story to get off to sleep.
 



That’s it for this month. Think we’ve missed a gem or want to tell us about your own game? Then pop in to our Adventure forum and tell us about it!



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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