M.A.M.E of the Game: Starbound

We get lost in space with the fantastic building adventure game from Chucklefish titled, Starbound!

Check it out at: http://playstarbound.com/

In Starbound, you take on the role of a character who’s just fled from their home planet, only to crash-land on another. From there you’ll embark on a quest to survive, discover, explore and fight your way across an infinite universe.

You’ll encounter procedurally generated creatures and weapons, discover populated villages and abandoned temples. Explore planets dotted with dungeons, eyeball trees and treasure. Make use of over a hundred materials and over one thousand in-game objects to build a sprawling modern metropolis or a sleepy secluded cabin in the woods, and do all of it alone or with friends!

Snakes of Avalon

snakes of avalon
Let’s start with the easy bits. Snakes of Avalon is a freeware adventure game that comes with a traditional point-and-click interface and is the creation of Igor Hardy and Alex van der Wijst, who apparently employed the musical talents of Thomas Regin and the acting of Drew Wellman. It also is quite an excellent offering that happens to take place in a single room. Well, sort of, as this is where Snakes of Avalon stops being your average AGS game.
snakes of avalon

It is, you see, set in a bar named Avalon starring a hopelessly drunk, obviously unshaven, very confused and quite alcoholic character in what can only be described as a trippy (near) murder mystery. Actually, make that a deeply surreal (near) murder mystery, sporting a variety of all powerful hallucinations, ugly babies, beer, sinister wives, tons of toilet humour, a perpetually occupied toilet, dirty glasses, at least one time-machine, living posters, love, murder, obscure movie references, a Lucasarts logo and a majestic, yet sadly stuffed, talking moose. As you might imagine such an intoxicated design makes sure the game feels much bigger than your average one-room offering. Or is it actually bigger than that? Better play it and find out.

snakes of avalon

Space and even time in Snakes of Avalon is a most relative thing after all, and the protagonist’s warped perception of everything makes sure the game is actually much longer and quite a bit more challenging than its excellent and confined location would imply. As for the puzzles themselves, well, they are at times taxing, enjoyable and -impressively- make sense in the demented game world.

Oh, and the thing does look delightfully odd too, with its deeply cartoon-like art, smart animation, brilliant cut-scenes and lovely background art, though admittedly the music is what will really blow you away. Provided you enjoy your Jazz, that is. And if you prefer listening to it from a dear old scratched record than say one of those mp3 thingies, you’ll be in musical heaven.

Fracuum

fracuum
Like a psychedelic version of the Atari 2600 Adventure on steroids, Fracuum is a brilliantly designed and utterly mind-bending maze game. It has you navigating a complex and expertly designed labyrinth that feels quite a bit like a zoomable fractal, while avoiding baddies and collecting points and power-ups. Play it and have your mind messed with.

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

For those of us who remember well the 1980s, the phenomenally endowed Elvira – the campy TV persona of Cassandra Peterson – was and is much loved.  Dressed in gothic attire that tended to display her front-facing assets, Miss Peterson was a staple of the late night television viewing, and a highly recognizable advertising brand.  Many and diverse were her following, including myself…as I admit to being an Elvira acolyte.

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Box art for Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

Accolade tapped into this cult following with the 1990 release of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, a horror-themed PC adventure game with RPG elements.  The developer was the aptly named HorrorSoft, which focused primarily on making games in the horror genre.  HorrorSoft was actually Adventure Soft, and was sub-branded to give the company the ability to explore both a new genre and a new gaming engine.  Elvirawas HorrorSoft’s second game, their first being the somewhat enjoyable “Personal Nightmare”(featuring an appearance by Elvira), and they didn’t disappoint.  From the back of the box’s flavor text – “Can somebody help me find my chest?” – to the ending credits, Elvira was a fun game.

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

You play a helpful adventurer in Elvira, brought in to rescue the lovely Mistress of the Dark from the dangers of her own castle.  It seems Elvira’s quite-dead grandmother wants to return to the Realm of the Living, and plans to unleash a horrific assault on her surroundings – and upon her errant granddaughter, too.  Poor Elvira wants nothing to do with her grandmother’s schemes, but she’s lacking her usual magical arsenal as all her potion ingredients and equipment is scattered throughout her castle, and she needs you to collect it all and return it to her, while dispatching the nasty creatures that her dear grandmother has prowling the corridors and rooms along the way.

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Like many RPGs and adventure games, inventory management was a straightforward exercise.  As you explored your environment (all 800 locations of it), approximately 300 objects could be picked up and placed into your pack, which was represented by a grid at the bottom of the screen.  Some objects could interact with others to create more powerful items (such as potions ingredients combining into potions).  The combat mechanism was equally as simple, involving clicking on either the “thrust” or “parry” icons at the correct moments (not button-mashing them into a fine powder, a laDiablo).  Some of the magical potions and items improved your combat or defensive prowess, which was absolutely essential when facing some of the more terrifying castle denizens.

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Elvira was released on several gaming platforms, including MS-DOS, Amiga, Commodore 64, and Atari ST, and received favourable reviews.  Sales were sufficient to warrant a sequel, Elvira II: Jaws of Cerberus.  HorrorSoft would go on to make one more horror-themed PC game, Waxworks, before the company was abandoned to focus on the rebirth of its parent, Adventure Soft Publishing, and the release of theirSimon the Sorcerer series.

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

If you are a retrogaming horror junkie, or a classic adventure game aficionado, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a game well worth playing.  It has the right mix of humor and horror, action and exploration to warrant a place as my Retro Game of the Week, and is a worthy addition to any retro gaming collection!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwlaVJ35CdI[/youtube]

King’s Quest III Redux – To Heir Is Human

king's quest iii redux

King’s Quest III Redux

Finally, the time has come for you, oh adventure-loving and most precious reader, to download and enjoy one of the best freeware adventure games ever released, for King’s Quest III Redux has -as was indeed quite elaborately foretold– been released. And though it sadly is the last game the incredibly talented AGD Interactive will release, you uncaring, heartless, game-obsessed bastard will be lucky enough to play through a true gem (and so will the rest of us). Download it right now from this place and don’t forget to thank the people responsible for it.
In case you are still wondering what the fuss is all about, know that King’s Quest III Redux is a PC/Mac remake of the original KQ3: To Heir is Human by Sierra, that adds a beautiful soundtrack, an excellent voice-over, a sleek point-and-click interface, amazing 256-colour VGS graphics and a ton polish to an already great game. And is it really that good? Well, of course it is! Having already played its review build, I can guarantee its quality, but this very post will not be a review. Oh, no. The review will appear within the week, just to give you time to savor the experience. Go on, get downloading. Here are a couple of tasty pics to further excite you…

 

king's quest 3 redux boat
kings quest 3 redux castle

Related @ Gnome’s Lair:

Apprentice Deluxe

Apprentice Deluxe - logo

Do you know what the difference between a “review” and a “critique” is? No? Yes? Good for you. You can skip the rest of this paragraph. If your answer was no though, all I can do is provide you with my (very personal and quite copyrighted) view: A review is a critique from a consumer’s point of view. It is there to tell you if something is worth the money it will cost you. A critique on the contrary, judges something on its own and usually on its artistic merits alone, without taking price into consideration. On the other hand, computer games tend to be reviewed, as is customary and as they are considered inferior to -say- movies or apparently novels. So what shall I do with ‘Apprentice deluxe’? It is a PC game (an adventure to be more precise) and it is freeware. Should I review it? Critique(sp.) it? Take it out for a beer? What?

Apprentice Deluxe - PC Gameplay Screenshot

Well, let me tell you. I am in neither a theoretical nor an analytical mood, so I’ll just review the bloody thing, taking into consideration that it costs nothing.

Apprentice Deluxe is evidently the Deluxe version of the famous and award winning AGS adventure Apprentice [If you want to know more about the free AGS authoring system visit the official site. It will also help you find out what AGS is.] The deluxe part consists of a full voice-over with almost professional voice quality, of some bug and graphic glitches fixes, of a brand new soundtrack and of multilingual support. You even get to toggle the voice-over or subtitles on and off. And since Apprentice and its deluxe sibling are literally the same game, I’ll be referring to both of them simply as Apprentice.

Apprentice has a simple, but enjoyable story, set in a traditional fantasy setting with ironic and satirical splashes. It is about a young wizard’s apprentice called Pib, whose not so epic quest is to collect the ingredients needed for his first spell and … that about sums it. Consequently the game is extremely short, albeit with allusions to a much grander story. The average gamer will not need more than one to two hours to beat it, and only if every item is looked at and everything explored.

Apprentice Deluxe - PC Gameplay Screenshot 3

Pib is controlled in typical point-and-click fashion, which does feel like the correct method, despite the minor control and navigation problems. There is for example no right clicking to alternate between actions. Then again the inventory system is well implemented, attractively designed and fully compatible with a fantasy setting. Dialogs are handled the Lucasarts’ way using dialog trees, and almost every puzzle (except one –no wait; except two) is inventory based and rather on the easy side. The only puzzle that truly requires lateral and bizarrely inventive thinking is the one in which you’ll have to produce cheese, but after you solve it (in typical try everything on everything else adventurers’ fashion) the game does explain the reasoning behind it, and it does actually make sense. In a weird and almost funny way, but sense nonetheless.

Apprentice Deluxe - PC Gameplay Screenshot 1

The most impressive aspect of Apprentice, being an amateur freeware adventure and all, are the incredibly high production values. The music is very good, the low-res cartoony graphics are excellent and carefully animated, the game is full with detail and everything is clickable and verbally described. The humor and the minor in-jokes are good too. Not Monkey Island or Monty Python level, but Pib’s comments will put a smile on your face.

Apprentice offers an overall very pleasing (and brief) gaming experience, which continues with the already released and much improved Apprentice 2. You can download both games for free at the website of Herculean Effort Productions.

That’s a (seven and a half) out of (ten).

Another World

Another World (Out of this World)
Another World (Out of this World)

Another World review (Out of This World) by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Masterful action-adventure storytelling that set the way for games like Abe’s Odyssey and others.”

Overall Score:
10 out of 10

Overview:

Another World (Out of This World in the US) is a CLASSIC video game that is a perfect blend of adventure and action. The game is a platformer and plays similar to the original Prince of Persia, except with guns and the later Abe’s Oddysee.

The story goes something along the lines that you were working at a science lab with a particle accelerator during a really bad thunderstorm and lightning hit when you were conducting an experiment and that made a dimensional shift happen that took you into… Another World! As soon as you get there, you are being surrounded by these crawling little creatures that if you allow them to get near you will paw at you with a little venom tooth and it’s pretty much game over. I won’t ruin any more little surprises. This game simply has to be played.

The game needs no dialogue as the ways the characters react was simply amazingly done. The gameplay is fast and fluid. The game has cut-scenes that are really quick and whose animations are really well done for 1991. They’re not like cut-scenes in today’s games for which you might as well just eat popcorn or something else while watching. Another World plays very fast.

The game is available on 3DO, Amiga, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, DOS, GBA, Mac OS, Mega-CD, Mega Drive, Mobile phone (Symbian OS), SNES, Windows, Windows Mobile.

The game is from 1991, made by Eric Chahi, with music by Jean-François Freitas.

Here is the intro to the game:

Fun Factor:

Games where everything kills you are a lot of fun for me. There’s parts in this game where you are running for your life and shooting like a real gun fight. It feels more like combat from a movie like Ronin rather than something like Rambo.

The first time one plays this game, the game will most likely blow you away. The fun of exploring a hostile environment plus being a fugitive makes for a great adrenaline rush, as well as having to THINK. Fun Factor gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

Although I’ve played this game many, many times, it’s relatively easy to die. Pretty much everything will kill you in one attack, so you need to be careful at all times. Since the death system is realistic and it will depend on your knowledge of knowing how to react as well as your reflexes, the difficulty is perfect and real. Difficulty gets a score of 10 out of 10, since it’s realistic. I’d say this game is “NES hard”.

Since you can’t change the difficulty, Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 7 out of 10. To make the game easier would take away some of the excitement one gets playing the game. (This isn’t a modern noob-friendly game, so deal with it!)

Value:

You can pick up Another World at gog.com for $9.99. Their version gives you the game DRM-free, its manual, a bunch of hi-res wallpapers from it, its development diary, a technical handbook, as well as the soundtrack for the game. Considering how much of a classic this game is to me, $10 is a good value (the cost of going out to dinner) for a classic game that one will never forget. Value gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Replayability:

I’ve replayed this game about 30 times so far, although I know exactly what’s going to happen in every scene. I enjoy having the factor that I might not respond fast enough and still die. That makes the action more realistic offering a challenge not found in most of today’s games. Replayability gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Sound:

The sound is particularly important for this game. It makes up a lot of what make it great and what keep you feeling inmersed in the atmosphere of this game. My favorite sounds are the blasts from the energy gun and the cackle of the lightning and particle accelerator in the intro, as well as hearing enemies die. Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

Music is absent from most of the game except during the intro and ending. Although we are used to having most games playing music most of the time, in real life we don’t go around hearing a theme song in the background all the time, which makes the game have a suspenseful atmosphere. The intro music is tenseful. The ending theme nice and very soothing. Overall the music in this game gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Graphics:

For its time, the graphics and animations of Another World were simply amazing. I remember when I first played this game it had made me justify having upgraded to the Amiga for my gaming platform from my c64. Considering how well this game has always ran, how fluid everything looks, and how real the characters act, Graphics get and deserve a 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

This game almost never crashes, except maybe my Amiga version (mainly because my machine had overheating problems, my old Amiga 600). I give Stability/Reliability a score of 10 out of 10 for the gog.com version. I give the Amiga version a score of 8 out of 10 because of the rare crashes.

Controls:

The controls for this game are self-explanatory. The only thing that might get some getting used to, the first time you play, is how responsive the character is to running and shooting. One quickly learns to control the character perfectly. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

This game has always run flawlessly and fast on all platforms. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is one of the games I’m most fond of from my Amiga gaming days. The story, atmosphere, and cinematics are unforgettable.

Longplay of the game:

The following video shows you somebody playing the game all the way through. It’s not a super long game but it’s still a classic game that holds a special place in my heart. This is the Amiga Longplay playthrough by cubex55 for Another World.

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Free Stuff – Beneath A Steel Sky

Beneath A Steel Sky box
Beneath A Steel Sky box

Free Stuff – Beneath A Steel Sky

Our friends at Good Old Games are offering the full Windows XP & Vista converted version of Beneath A Steel Sky for FREE.

I first head of Beneath A Steel Sky when I mainly used to play games on my Amiga. I unfortunately was not able to play it at the time because I only had the version for the Amiga 1200 available to me and my simple Amiga 600 could not handle it.

The game is a cyberpunk/dystopia futuristic adventure game where the protagonist is trying to pursue the truth in that kind of a sinister setting.

Dave Gibbons, which worked on the Watchmen and Rogue Trooper comics, created much of the art and the setting for this game.

You can download the full game here from gog.com