Following Freeware 2
Following Freeware 2

Following Freeware: September 2010 releases

This month, you have the opportunity to become a noble king or a low-down drunk. Take a trip to 1950s small-town America, deliver a package to a haunted house, or wander through a dark version of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. You may even find yourself facing beings not of this world or a room with no doors. All this awaits in the September releases from the freeware adventure community.
 



Snakes of Avalon

 

Jack is a hopeless alcoholic haunting his favourite watering hole. Abused by patrons and bar staff alike, his life is at low point. Then he happens to overhear a young couple as they plot a dastardly murder. With the dubious assistance of his many alcohol-fuelled hallucinations, can Jack thwart their evil scheme? More importantly, can he do it without having to leave the bar?

Igor Hardy and Alex van der Wijst’s Snakes of Avalon is a dark and twisted comedy. The bright and crisp cartoon characters, all with sharp black outlines, stand out well against the softer and more muted style of the background art. As well as in-game sound effects and fully-voiced cutscenes, the game also features a soundtrack from Thomas Regin of Blackwell Convergence fame. Whether it’s the theme music over the menu or the scratchy tunes playing on the bar radio, this complements the action nicely.

The game can be downloaded from the developer’s blog.


The Silver Lining: Episode 2 – Two Households

 

Continuing Phoenix Online’s fan-made episodic sequel to the King’s Quest series and promising more gameplay this time around, Graham must once again don his adventurer’s cap and prepare to get it dirty this time. Having survived an unnatural storm, he is now on a quest to find the ingredients that will help him free his children, Alexander and Rosella, from a mysterious curse.

This game follows on from the previous episode, using the same detailed 3D graphic style of that game. You’ll revisit some of the same locations as well as having new vistas opened, such as Mermaid Island and the Isle of Wonder. The game is once more fully voiced, though for those who didn’t warm to the narrator last time, an option for shorter narrations has been introduced. The game also includes a walk/run toggle and widescreen support, other improvements that have been added since the original episode.

Both this episode and the previous one can be downloaded from the developer’s website (registration is required, but it's free and carries no obligation).


Alice is Dead

In a grim and violent version of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland, Alice is dead. Waking next to her corpse with no memory of who you are, the first problem is discovering your identity. Just as you achieve this goal, an ambush results in being thrown into prison, where an old friend could be the key to escape. Once free, it’s time to seek revenge on those who put you there and brought about Alice’s death.

Alice is Dead is a now-complete trilogy of online games from Impending Riot, each episode covering a section of the story. As the title indicates, this is a much darker world than Carroll’s original, and the violent content alone probably makes it unsuitable for children. It is presented in a first-person slideshow format with impressively painted graphics, including some limited animation. The audio is also well done, like the song heard in the opening scene that becomes louder the closer you get to its source. The second and third episodes also feature highly competent voicework.

All three episodes can be played directly in your browser at Newgrounds: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3.


A Raindog Story

 

In a small American town, some time around the early 1950s, Tom Frost has fallen on hard times. He’s lost his job and he’s lost his wife, who burned down their house to boot. All he has left is an acoustic guitar and a handful of his own musical scores. With nothing left to lose, he sets out to follow his dream of joining a band and achieving fame and fortune from his songs.

Whilst having an upbeat goal, Bleeding Romeo’s game has a downbeat feel, fitting Tom’s status as a “raindog”, a colloquial term for a person who lives outside. Tom Waits, whose 1985 album Rain Dogs was about people in that situation, has clearly been an influence for this game. He makes a brief appearance at the start and his music, performed by tribute artist waitswatcher, forms much of the soundtrack. The graphics consist of photographs and poster images cut and pasted together. This is largely effective, even when animated, although some of the cutting highlights the seams where the different elements are joined.

A Raindog Story can be downloaded from the AGS website.


Earl Grey and This Rupert Guy

 

Rupert is a postman with a package to deliver to Earl Grey in the spooky mansion by the hill. Getting no answer at the door, he proceeds inside to search for the Earl. Rupert soon discovers a pair of glasses that allow him to see paranormal objects, including the many ghosts that inhabit the mansion. Not that such minor concerns would stop a postman from fulfilling his duty, of course.

The spooks in Agaté’s game are a gentle bunch, making this a light comedic adventure. The paranormal glasses are the key to many puzzles, as they cause some items to change, affecting what you can do with them, and a misty atmosphere reminds players when they are active. The graphics are done in a crisp, cartoonish style and are nicely animated. There are sound effects and an innocuous, though somewhat repetitive, background tune. An automatically updated journal tracks tasks that need to be completed, as well as providing optional quests related to the various spirits that haunt the building.

The browser-based Earl Grey and This Rupert Guy game can be played online at Game Pirate.


Absent: Part 1 – Innocent Until Proven Guilty

 

At college, students are disappearing without a trace on a near daily basis. Beset by visions, one student, Murray Schull, believes there is something supernatural about the disappearances. When Crystal, girlfriend of Murray's friend Steve, goes missing, Steve is quick to blame another student. Can Murray convince these two feuding students to act together against a foe not of this world?

As the opener of an intended trilogy, Fenton Film Games’ Innocent Until Proven Guilty sets the scene and introduces us to the central character and his associates. With the story involving missing and possibly dead students, the game adopts a serious tone overall, though there are occasional touches of humour. The graphics blend pixel art with a broad brush appearance, using shading to create a feeling of detail. The character models have distinctly personal designs but are slightly let down by some odd-looking walking animations. A mildly haunting piece of background music plays throughout, with intermittent whispering voices adding to the atmosphere.

Absent: Part 1 can be downloaded from the AGS website.


Awakening: Part 1 – Escape

 

A man finds himself alone and trapped in a strange building, with no memories of his life before that moment. He must search not only for a way to escape, but also for a means to learn about his past life. Little does he know that the secrets locked within his mind could shed a whole new light on a horrific tragedy that struck years earlier.

Escape is the first in a proposed Awakening trilogy by PurpleNurple, and as the title suggests, the main aim in this episode is to escape the building, a tricky proposition when the first room has no exits. The graphics, while basic and rather plain, have a good sense of perspective and even include some decent light effects. A single tune provides the soundtrack throughout, though it’s long enough to not be overly repetitive. The game also includes a score counter to show progress and determine how far through the game you are. Puzzles are slightly hampered by the lack of hotspot indication, though the relatively sparse locations make most items reasonably obvious.

The game 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.

Head over Heels by cat and raeff – Have your world literally turned upside-down in this short adventure.

Kuma Story by Luke Rideout – Help Kuma Bear find an anniversary present for his beloved Cinnamon Bear.

The Ever Beginning Tale by Calin Leafshade – Trapped in a generic 8-bit fantasy world, can you find a means of escape?

Hoger the Pirate – Lost Island Episode by Abroy.Com – Navigate various hazards to get a drunk pirate safely back to his ship.

Abduction by Alexander Klingenbeck – Kidnapping the princess would be simple, if she hadn’t locked herself in a castle.

The Flower Shop – Summer in Fairbrook by vNovel – Follow the tale of a layabout student’s life-changing summer in this interactive storybook.
 



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!


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About the Author
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Steve Brown
Freeware Coordinator

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Comments

Ascovel Ascovel
Oct 22, 2010

Big thanks for featuring our game. I’ll be grateful to anyone who comments on it.

From the above selection I haven’t played all titles (yet), but I’d definitely recommend Head over Heels, which while very short is also very charming and has a great illustrated-children-book-with-a-touch-of-Jules-Verne style.

SamuelGordon SamuelGordon
Oct 22, 2010

Raindog Story looks really cool, try that one first! Others are interesting too, will keep me busy:).

Terabin Terabin
Oct 22, 2010

Oo boy, I’d love it if people would comment on which of these they’d recommend. There’s so many to sort through in these wonderful features!

Sho
Oct 24, 2010

Another piece of freeware news is that the Broken Sword 2.5 chaps are about to release an English voice pack. Previews have sounded really great and quite close to the original English speakers (the German version actually uses the original German voice actor for George). It was originally planned to be released on Octobr 18th already, but then a one-week delay happened.

Another exciting piece of Broken Sword 2.5 news is that its developers are collaborating with the ScummVM team to bring their engine to ScummVM, at which point Broken Sword 2.5 will run on many operating systems other than Windows, including on many mobile devices.

Broken Sword 2.5 is by far my favorite of the free fan-ade adventure sequels, and I think probably the most ambitious and faithful to its source material. Very happy that English-language players will get to join in the fun of another great Broken Sword game soon.

Jackal Jackal
Oct 24, 2010

That’s news for October, so it will be covered in the next article.

DesNalgadOr
Oct 24, 2010

Many Thanks for this Features!!!

Cactusgod
Oct 24, 2010

I’ve been playing Snakes of Avalon for maybe 10-20 minutes and so far it’s a winner.  It definitely FEELS like your classic adventure game.  Quirky, humorous…overall very fun.  I can say that, so far, I’d be happy shelling out 5-10 dollars for this game for personality alone.

As far as the other games, I’m going in order so, provided I remember, I’ll post more comments as I go ;p

Ascovel Ascovel
Oct 25, 2010

Glad you’re liking Snakes this much, Cactusgod. I’m looking forward to learning what you thought of the whole.

Shany
Oct 25, 2010

Loving this feature!
Here are my thoughts on the games I’ve played:

Snakes of Avalon - Great. Engrossing, atmospheric, strange and even scary. Loved the use of voice acting at just the right moments. Puzzles were intuitive and fit well with the tone of each scene. My only problem was with the ending - I was expecting all the madness to lead to something bigger, that might even explain what happened.

Alice is Dead - Played all parts. Nice atmosphere, even if the dark version of the world was done before. Story is all over the place, though, and the plot only really seems to start in the third episode where it also ends. It also suffers from pixel hunts, a problem that many flash games have. Still, it’s not a bad game, and worth playing for atmosphere alone.

Earl Grey and this Rupert Guy - Fun. Very nice graphics, and the glasses make for some nice puzzles. There’s quite a bit of backtracking at the second half of the game, but it’s still worth a play through.

Head Over Heels - Very cool concept, but too short and severely lacking in puzzles. Still, short enough to give it a try.

The Ever Beginning Tale - Funny, but not memorable. Gets way too easy after the first part (where you solve riddles).

Hoger the Pirate - Tried to play this, but it was slow, involved pixel hunts, and game overs which sent me back to slowly start again. No thanks.

Abduction - Cute, with lovely visuals. The interface takes a bit to get used to, and it’s not always clear what can be interacted with or not, but it was a lot of fun to play once I got the hang of it.

The Flower Shop - Tried it, but it was too slow and the lack of options to speed it up or mute the sound made me give up.

Ascovel Ascovel
Oct 25, 2010

@Shany I wouldn’t say there isn’t any explanation what really happened, but it’s also presented as a puzzle rather than directly - a puzzle for which clues are spread throughout the whole game (also in the final scenes).

Terabin Terabin
Oct 25, 2010

Snakes of Avalon: The attention given to the aural and visual qualities of the different spaces within the one room of the bar was incredible. Also, with the third act especially as an example, attention was given to the way in which people inhabit these spaces, and project themselves into these spaces: their conscious and subconscious selves, their memories, their hopes, and narratives. With most games out there today, there seems to be a premium put on how many different screens, how big of a world can we create and populate, and this game shows how a game can, on the contrary, provide a compelling experience exploring even just one room! And this is because the room, the main character’s interaction with it and perception of it, as well as our perception of it, is constantly changing.

I’m curious what the game creators’ inspiration was for the almost the visual design. I was almost seeing some cubism there especially in the faces of the characters.

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