Looking at Routine

Please have a gander at the above promotional teaser from Lunar Software‘s forthcoming horror exploration game, Routine. Spot anything out of the ordinary?

If your answer consists of something like “Full body awareness, Deadzone aiming, no HUD, no health bars or points system” – fair enough! The developers have, after all, incorporated plenty of neat stand-out features in the game.

That being said, what I really mean is the mouselook. We’ve all just witnessed a promotional game video with MOUSE CONTROLS.

It took me a few seconds to realize just what it was that I was seeing. Seeing is believing: It all seemed so vivid, so immersive, so refreshing. On the mouse, the video paints a vastly improved, more honest view into the inner workings of the game, its architecture, and unique visual design.

To put it bluntly: This video simply could not have been made on a gamepad, at all. Thing is, I’ve moaned about this problem all the way since 2009, and this year’s (2013) E3 gameplay presentations continued the ugly trend.

Thankfully, though, we have the indies to show how it’s done on the PC. More of this please. Good job, Lunar Software!

(The game also looks good. Check it out!)

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Resonance Review

Out of all the highly esteemed indie adventure games in the Wadjet Eye Games catalogue, Vince Twelve’s Resonance had by far the longest journey from start to finish.

Though intended for commercial release from the get-go, the game was announced in low-key fashion on the Adventure Game Studio forums in 2008, and then later Kickstarted in 2009, long before the “Double Fine” explosion of 2012, back when the landscape and prospects were vastly different. By the Kickstarter campaign, however, the game had already been in the works for over 2 years!

As with their other recent offerings, in Primordia and Gemini Rue, Wadjet Eye’s Dave Gilbert swooped to XII Games‘ aid to make finishing Twelve’s project a reality. With good reason: It’s no secret, by now, that Resonance is a very good game – one of 2012’s best adventures.


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The Blackwell Deception Review

Start spreadin’ the news / I’m leavin’ today / I want to be a part of it / New York, New York
These vagabond shoes / are longing to stray / Right through the very heart of it / New York, New York

From 2006 to 2009, Wadjet Eye Games‘ “Blackwell” adventure game series provided three fantastic gaming events, each more popular than the last. The series finally culminated in 2009’s magnificent “Convergence”, which bordered qualitatively on those mid-90’s classics with its sense of place, atmosphere, intrigue and immersion.

The fourth part, The Blackwell Deception, now included in the ongoing Indie Royale “Fall Bundle”, was quite the cause célèbre in 2011, with most reviewers finding it “must-play” for existing fans, and an apt enough continuation of the para-normal puzzler series.

I both agree and disagree with this sentiment. Doubtless “Deception” is a great, great adventure game. Next to the rest of the series, however, it is also Dave Gilbert’s weakest professional effort to date (even if Richard Cobbett thought it best!). Although very finely tuned as always, “Deception” had one major, inherent flaw. (more…)

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The Journey Down: Chapter One Review

The Journey Down: Over the Edge, 2010’s surprise freeware hit from SkyGoblin’s Theodor Waern returns in all-new commercial form! The ex-Adventure Game Studio title now flaunts its own in-house engine, new puzzles and locations, higher-resolution art and all-new 3D-animated characters and voice acting! In addition to being released on the PC and Mac at GamersGate, Linux, Android and iOS ports are also to arrive shortly.

The new The Journey Down: Chapter One, then, is the first part of an episodic adventure series in the Monkey IslandFull ThrottleGrim Fandango mode – as good a trinity of influences as any! The game tells the story of Bwana and Kito, two adopted brothers, who have been left in charge of captain Kaonandodo’s “Gas and Charter” enterprise ever since his sudden disappearance. The brothers are however left hanging high and dry after the mysterious Armando Power Company initiates a dastardly money grab – just as a damsel in distress appears knocking on the brothers’ proverbial door!

The original indie release was a critical hit. “Over the Edge” was one of the – if not the – best medium-length indie adventures of 2010. I personally thought as much. Two years after the fact, however, reviewing the all-new remake, seems oddly unfair as well as difficult: What was the feature, exactly, that made the original so very enjoyable, and more importantly, how to once again accurately convey it?

Was it the game’s wistful nostalgia combined with surprisingly effective comedic relief, or the “Fandango”-like injection of the African Chokwe/Makonde masks that so successfully gave the game its unique touch? Or the stirringly sharp hand-painted 2D backgrounds? Or the expert pacing and flow? The carefully-crafted, balanced puzzle-solving? The jokes?

Looking back, in my original review, I did claim The Journey Down’s primary feature to be its visual direction. This fact should be altogether apparent just from screenshots alone, however, which makes me want to revise my previous statement, instead focusing on the one thing every prospective Journeyman and -woman should know: (more…)

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