Latest User Reviews

Review of The Black Mirror

Rating by emric posted on May 22, 2012

very atmospheric and immersive dark mystery. unlikeable main character may be an issue for some.

this is great dark mystery adventure game from back in 2003. very atmospheric and immersive. graphics, sound and story all quite strong. the actual writing was mostly fine (occasionally disappointing). unfortunately the main character is an arrogant prick at worst and generic & wooden at best. for me, the strength of the story overshadowed this shortcoming easily enough, but for others it could be quite a deterrent. the gameplay is a bit quirky. there's a half-dozen or so instances of punishing pixel-hunting. hotspots become inactive after you've read their description, but then may become active again later when they become important. this tested my patience sometimes, and would've been a major issue if the available gameplay areas were any larger. but to the game's credit (or possibly my enduring patience) i never had to consult a walkthru. it was odd that they decided to include two puzzles which for most players would require external research (i.e. exiting the game and googling western zodiac symbols for one and order of planet sizes for the other). the ending will polarise players, but i think i'm happy they went that way. it's a satisfyingly lengthy adventure (took me just over 20 hours) which i'm very glad i played. after 7 years, a sequel was finally released and i look forward to playing it next :) Time Played: Over 20 hours

Review of Beneath a Steel Sky

Rating by emric posted on May 22, 2012

a retro piece of british adventurey sci-fi goodness

This is definitely one of the better examples of retro adventure gaming! The puzzles are all pretty much inventory based. but like many adventure games of it's time, it does suffer from some annoying pixel-hunting. What makes it stand out is the creative sci-fi scenario and quality of comedic writing in character interactions. It was like a british LucasArts comedy :) Your robotic sidekick Joey is hilarious. Although unlike LucasArts adventures, there were instances where your character can die, especially towards the end, which were probably meant to heighten the tension and danger but which really only served as save/restore annoyances. I'm thankful that the original Developers, Revolution Software, have made this title freeware and that it's easily playable on modern systems via the ScummVM emulator. Even though the game is around 15 years old, I was glad to learn that Revolution software are possibly planning to (eventually) make a sequel (?) If so, it'll certainly be interesting to see how/if they manage to achieve the feel of the original, in a modern adventure game. Time Played: 5-10 hours

Review of Art of Murder: Hunt for the Puppeteer

Rating by emric posted on May 22, 2012

definitely better than the first 'art of murder'. still hindered by poor english translation

The main problem i have with these "Art of Murder" games (this is the second one) from City Interactive is complete lack of originality. The characters are stereotypical and the plot is totally trying to emulate much better games such as "Still Life". However, what they have going for them is a strong implementation of the traditional adventure game constructs with pleasingly acceptable production values. So I still had a very enjoyable time playing this title. The puzzles showed a mostly pleasing balance of challenge, without becoming so illogical that you're stuck for long -- although on a few occasions it dropped into the realm of overly MacGyver-ish inventory combinations. This sequel came out quite quickly after the original game and is based on the same engine. It feels exactly the same to play. I enjoyed it more though mainly due to more atmospheric locations and more interesting story. City Intercative are still showing some problems with translation of their games to English and I hope this is addressed in upcoming releases. None of these hinder the gameplay too much, but certainly make the title seem a bit unpolished (the translation of the user manual is categorically atrocious!). Voice acting, music, graphics, cutscenes... all quite strong. Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of Art of Murder: FBI Confidential

Rating by emric posted on May 22, 2012

not overly poor, but certainly not a standout either. awful english translation/localisation effort.

this is a reasonable investigative thriller adventure game. not particularly strong in any aspect, but quite adequate in most. it was saved from feeling quite flat by a strong lead voice performance. otherwise the characterisations were quite weak. the plot was kinda "still life" lite. the game was made by a Polish developer, City Interactive, and whoever did the english translation/localisation was not up to scratch for a professional project. although you could mostly understand the intention of phrases, and therefore follow the game's progress easily enough, it was quite obvious that things just didn't sound right. The puzzles were straight-forward enough. It wasn't a difficult game and could be considered a little short. The pre-rendered graphics were a highlight. It was a very familiar adventure game interface which worked tidily. Music was ok. but the ending was awful! it's like the developers ran out of time in the final cutscene and I'm still confused about what actually happened. It's the first adventure from City Interactive, and they show enough promise that with some improvements (definitely including a better localisation team) they may come up with something special in the future. Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of A Vampyre Story

Rating by emric posted on May 22, 2012

strong visuals and music, but i was quite disappointed in all other aspects

So after many many years since the demise of LucasArts adventures, some of the people behind all those great games formed their own company (Autumn Moon Entertainment) and have begun making adventure games again. The first of these is 'A Vampyre Story'. It feels very very much like a LucasArts game, so fans of their previous classics will most likely be pleased. For me though, it kinda reminded me why i usually preferred Sierra games to LucasArts games way back in the 80s & 90s. It's a comic and light-hearted experience which is very very heavy on inventory puzzles. I know inventory puzzles are one of the main staples of adventure gaming, but I begin to get frustrated when the puzzles are illogical enough that you end up just clicking random inventory combinations or every combination of inventory item on random hotspots just to work out what to do next. And for me, this was the experience all throughout 'A Vampyre Stroy'. However, if a game's characters and story are strong and engaging enough, then there is still motivation enough to work through these puzzles and the experience is less frustrating. But sadly, I didn't find that was the case with 'A Vampyre Story' either. It did fail to capture much of the charm and wit of earlier LucasArts classics. One of the biggest issues is the writing... it's supposed to be witty and funny, but it just isn't. Instead it's cringingly try-hard humour much of the time. The voice acting is somewhat controversial also. Mainly because the main character, Mona, has such a high-pitched whining voice, that probably suits her character, but I found it terribly difficult to listen to and almost relented into turning the voices off altogether. I settled for turning them down to 50% volume just to take the edge off her voice. But the issue with her voice acting is deeper than that. I found in almost all her sentences the accent would be strong at the start and then disappear towards the end -- of each sentence! As you can imagine this produced a very odd listening experience. Thankfully the voice acting problems end there and all of the supporting cast put in very strong performances. Where this game really shines is in the graphics/art direction. It's comic stylings look brilliant and the colouring is superbly lush! The music is also quite good. I did also come across one gameplay bug involving the perfume bottle/refill inventory items which makes it impossible to complete the game. Thankfully I found some help in an online forum that enabled me to edit save game info so that i didn't have to restore way back and replay. but the existence of such a bug shows some unfortunately sloppy testing! hopefully it's been patched by now. Overall I guess I just found that I didn't care much about the main characters -- a somewhat dim and whiny, vampire-in-denial and her try-hard wisecracking bat sidekick. Autumn Moon have announced a sequel (which is kinda necessary cos they left the story quite unfinished) but I hope they're able to expand so they can work on two projects at once... cos I'm still interested to see what else they can produce outside this first franchise. Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within

Rating by Intense Degree posted on May 21, 2012

Brilliant FMV.

[DISCLAIMER - here there be much personal opinion] When I first got my hands on this game a while after playing GK1 I was ridiculously excited. I loved GK1 so much that I couldn’t wait to get stuck in to the sequal. However, I actually initially gave up on playing it after about 20 minutes. And the reason? It wasn’t the transition to FMV, the move to Germany, the different feel and pace. It wasn’t the Gabriel I knew. Now I’m not just talking about looks here, clearly even Tim Curry doesn’t look like good old pixelated Gabe from GK1, it was the change in personality. For me one of the biggest pulls of GK1 was the character of Gabriel. But here in GK2 he was bland, somehow all the edges were rounded off and (I’m sorry but this is my opinion) he was somehow American-sitcom-ised. At first I was so disappointed I stopped playing. However I did come back and boy am I glad I did. This is, to my mind, the finest example of FMV. Once again the story is excellent but the characters steal the show. Whilst Gabe in GK2 I’m not too bothered about, Von-Glower is a masterpiece. Brilliantly written, exceptionally acted and probably the most intriguing and charismatic game character ever. All the members of the hunt club and their relationships are excellent too, brilliantly written and acted. The story is a great one and the 2 parallel investigations of Gabe and Grace keep the depth and intellect of the first game with the more visceral parts of Gabe’s investigations. The game draws you in an keeps you interested and the replay value is very high too. With a better Gabe this would be 5 stars from me. However, I know many people then Dean was brilliant so only half a star goes. Time Played: Over 20 hours

Review of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers

Rating by Intense Degree posted on May 21, 2012

A "must" for every adventure gamer.

This is simply my favourite Adventure Game of all time. Despite (by today's standards) a horrible user interface of well over 7,000 cursor icons (possibly a slight exaggeration) and what now appears to some to be dated graphics, what this game does well it does so well that 5 stars are justified. The Characters are first rate, as is the writing and general level of background detail. The story is gripping and definitely the most "grown up" story I had played when it came out. The way the story progresses over the days is excellent too. While the voice acting splits opinion I think it is excellent, from a surprisingly all star cast (Luke Skywalker and Lt Worf? Really?!). To my ears, the narrator and Tim Curry are excellent as is pretty much all the rest of the cast. Whilst the puzzles are quite hard in places they are generally logical and pleasing. No other game has drawn me in like this one and I have lost count of the times I have replayed it. This is a must for every adventure gamer. Don't let the graphics or anything else put you off, seriously you won't even notice these things after 15-20 minutes. Time Played: Over 20 hours

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