point and click

Tales of Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal

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Tales of Monkey Island CoverAfter 2000’s somewhat disastrous Escape from Monkey Island, I was rather leery on returning to my beloved childhood point and click adventure series. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge was the first game I ever played in the genre, and The Curse of Monkey Island is still in my top 10 games of all time.

LucasArts wasn’t too excited on bringing back Guybrush Threepwood either, but in 2009 thanks to TellTale Games, began publishing the five episodes of Tales of Monkey Island, beginning with Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. TellTale Games is the most successful episodic gaming developer around, and they seem to thrive when given an existing IP to adapt into their release format. Tales of Monkey Island would go on to become their best-selling series at the time.

I’ll be reviewing each episode individually as if they were being released one at a time. There’s a few reasons for this: if an episode really sucks, will I want to play on? I like the idea of being able to quit at any time. Plus, I’m a big fan of getting my ideas down on paper sooner than later, and feel like I can give each episode the time it deserves by reviewing it immediately.

The Shivah

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the Shivah CoverHave there been any mainstream Jewish video games? Outside of Bible Adventures, I can’t think of a single religious game that even a small percentage of gamers might recognize. It’s interesting: there are quite a few popular religious films such as The Ten Commandments, and religious music and television has certainly found its niche, but there has never been a video game or developer that religious groups have rallied behind.

I could personally rattle off a dozen reasons why this might be the case, but it raises the question: does religion have a place in video games outside of being the caricatured bad guy in a game like Final Fantasy Tactics? Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye Games thought the answer was “yes” with his first paid point and click adventure game, The Shivah.

The Shivah stars Rabbi Stone in his short quest to uncover the truth about a recently deceased friend. It takes place inside synagogues and features a decent dose of Hebrew and Jewish themes. It isn’t heavy-handed in anything it does, this is simply the character and settings Wadjet Eye Games wanted to tell. Here’s my review of The Shivah, built in Adventure Games Studio.

Resonance

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Resonance CoverI’ve been spoiled this year having just been introduced to the Blackwell series and publisher Wadjet Eye Games. Before Resonance, I bought four Blackwell games, Gemini Rue, and The Shivah. Point and click adventure gaming was one of my earliest gaming passions, but I ended up almost completely ignoring the genre for the last 12 years. Now it’s a passion again, and all courtesy of one publisher.

Developed by Vince Twelve and published by Wadjet Eye Games, Resonance is a multi-character point and click adventure game featuring an engrossing story, unique interface, and thankfully, basically free of all the crappy genre trappings that pushed me away from games like this. It was one of the few games I allowed myself to hype up a bit this year, and the developers delivered.

If Resonance looks interesting to you, definitely check it out, it’s only $10 on Steam. Then play all the Blackwell games which can be grabbed in a four pack for $20. Not a bad deal at all. The best part about these games is that they were made in the free to use Adventure Games Studio, I’m scared to think about all the other awesome games out there that were made with this tool that I’m missing.

Here’s my spoiler free review of Resonance.

Gemini Rue

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Gemini rue CoverGemini Rue. Duality + regret. A remarkably thoughtful and fitting name for this game (and certainly much more pleasing than the original Boryokudan Rue). Another entry in the monstrous Wadjet Eye Games adventure lineup and primarily the child of Joshua Nuernberger, Gemini Rue has been very well received since its release in early 2011. The game takes place in a futuristic sci-fi world with some touches of cyberpunk thrown in. As with other recent Wadjet games, it is a full experience complete with voice acting and attempts to push the underlying Adventure Game Studio engine as far as it can. As a whole, their efforts greatly pay off, riding on the strength of the characters and overarching story.

The Sea Will Claim Everything

First Hour Review

the sea Will Claim Everything CoverBundle in a Box’s first bundle was adventure-themed. If you paid an astounding $100 or a trifling $1, you got the following point-and-clicky PC games: Gemini Rue, Ben There, Dan That!, Time Gentlemen, Please!, 1893: A World's Fair Mystery, and The Sea Will Claim Everything. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate, because if you beat the average price at the time you also got The Shivah from Wadjet Eye Games and Metal Dead. That’s quite a grouping and, of them, I was most excited to play The Shivah as my wife and I devoured all of Rosangela’s and Joey’s adventures in a short span of time and were eager for more from the man known as Dave Gilbert. Unfortunately, my laptop wasn’t playing nice, and so I went to the next interesting title on the list.

The Sea Will Claim Everything is a point-and-click adventure game by Jonas and Verena Kyratzes, a husband and wife team that have made some other games set in the Lands of Dreams. This one, however, debuted to the world with this bundle. It has a really unique art style to it, akin to coloring book pages brimming with content. Other than that, I don’t know much about the plot, but I’m ready to click around.

Blackwell Deception

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Blackwell Deception CoverThe Blackwell series hasn’t changed a lot over four games released across five years. The screen resolution and accompanying art still seems reminiscent of 1990s adventure games, the point and click gameplay is also rooted in the classics, and the story is still well polished and very entertaining. But none of this at all is a bad thing, it enables indie developer Wadjet Eye Games to release quality games at a manageable pace.

And I have certainly had it well off the last few months having just discovered the Blackwell series. Four games that I almost instantly fell in love with at my fingertips! But now that they’re done, I find myself playing the waiting game like the rest of the fans. Much like when I caught up with the A Song of Ice and Fire book series in 2008 or The Wheel of Time in 2007, waiting really can be the hardest part.

So I present my review for Blackwell Deception. You can also read my reviews for The Blackwell Legacy, Blackwell Unbound, and Blackwell Convergence, or just play the games. They’re great.

Blackwell Convergence

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Blackwell Convergence CoverBlackwell Convergence follows The Blackwell Legacy and Blackwell Unbound in Wadjet Eye Games’ story-driven adventure game series. I found Unbound to be a stunning entry that rectified many of Legacy’s issues while building on the series’ mysteries. It also had a ton of style that is sadly absent in many games today.

So I had high expectations for Convergence, as the story was brought back to present day with our original heroine Rosangela Blackwell. The detour Unbound took to the past was engrossing and informative, and gave the series that much more emotional weight. I knew it would be tough for Convergence to keep up the momentum, but I promised myself that if it did, I’d be waving the Blackwell flag for many years to come.

Released in 2009 for Windows and once again built in Adventure Game Studios, here’s my review for Blackwell Convergence.

Blackwell Unbound

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Blackwell Unbound CoverFresh on the heels of the well-received The Blackwell Legacy arrives Blackwell Unbound. After playing and thoroughly enjoying the first for our Indie Impression feature, continuing was an inevitability. For reference, Legacy was released in 2006, and Unbound in 2007. There have since been two more releases in the semi-episodic series, so I'm still a bit behind. I am playing the re-released versions in the Blackwell Bundle, which offer improved voice acting as well as bug fixes and some extras. The Blackwell series (as well The Shivah) were primarily developed by Dave Gilbert and his studio, Wadjet Eye Games.

For ease of writing, I'm just going to assume that you don't mind to be aware of mild spoilers in the first act of the first game. After all, it's printed everywhere, including the covers of these very games. Essentially, the Blackwell series is about the generational history of this family who has been "blessed" to be mediums to the restless spirit world. In the case of the Blackwells, they have been assigned by the powers that be to a ghost detective named Joey Malone. He is forced to stay with his medium at all times and guide them towards restless ghosts in the world who have, for one reason or another, been unable to pass on into the afterlife.

During Legacy, we played as Rosangela, the newest medium in the Blackwell family. She has to fight through a bit of family history as well as her own personal weaknesses, before encountering her family's legacy. In Unbound, we travel back to her aunt, Lauren, who has already met and come to terms with Joey.

Blackwell Unbound

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Blackwell Unbound CoverHaving just finished The Blackwell Legacy a few days ago, I decided to waste no time in jumping into its sequel, Blackwell Unbound. These aren’t long games by any stretch of the imagination, clocking in at just a few hours each, but they don’t waste any time spinning their wheels or forcing you through gameplay hoops that aren’t essential to the plot.

Developed by Wadjet Eye Games, Blackwell Unbound was released in 2007, less than a year after Legacy. The game tells the story of Rosa’s aunt, Lauren Blackwell, the previous medium in the family and former detective of all ghostly things.

Unbound was originally intended to just be a short flashback sequence in what is now the third game, Blackwell Convergence, but was fleshed out into a standalone title as development progresses. Let’s see if the game manages to stand on its own in the adventure gaming genre.

The Blackwell Legacy

Full Review

Blackwell Legacy CoverI played a lot of point and click adventures growing up, from the Monkey Island series to King’s Quest, but I figured the genre for dead over the last decade. What a pleasant surprise to find that it’s alive, well, and kicking in the indie community. Ben There, Dan That and Time Gentleman, Please! have been covered here before, and now I’ve discovered the delightful Blackwell series.

The Blackwell Legacy is the first game in an ongoing series of point and click adventures from Wadjet Eye Games. Set in modern day New York City, the game already sets itself apart from most of the fantasy elements Lucasarts and Sierra raised the genre in, except for one thing: the main character is accompanied by a ghost.

Recently featured in our Indie Impression column, The Blackwell Legacy was well received by all participants, and knowing it was a relatively short game, I had no qualms in playing on. Here are my thoughts on The Blackwell Legacy.

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