Following Freeware 17
Following Freeware 17

Following Freeware: December 2011 releases


Quasar

On the spaceship Quasar, tensions are running high. Cooped up together for long periods in space, the crew are starting to get on one another’s nerves. The latest argument has proved too much, with each of the crew stalking off to different parts of the ship. As the medical officer, you see it as part of your job to soothe tensions between the crew, but bringing these warring characters back together will be no easy task.

Crystal Shard have created a science fiction tale whose restricted setting proves no obstacle to telling a compelling story. The various compartments of the ship are presented in a semi-realistic fashion from an isometric view. Locations include the ship’s sleep machine room and the rather hazardous looking engine room, containing the giant coil that powers the ship. The five crew members all have a distinctive look, making them easy to recognise at a glance. This is further enhanced by the large and detailed character portraits that appear on-screen during conversations, including limited mouth animations for talking. The soundtrack features a variety of dramatic sci-fi tunes, one for each of the characters.

Starting off with only one character available, the object of the game is to bring all of them around so you can redirect the ship for some much needed leisure time. Doing so using a single-click interaction involves paying attention to dialogue and character observations to get an understanding of what makes each person tick. Once you have persuaded someone to help sort things out, a dialogue option becomes available that allows you to switch control to that character. You can also hand objects to amenable characters to move inventory from person to person. Each individual has their own skills and starting inventory, all of which will prove useful in achieving the ultimate goal. The game also features an instant walk feature, with a right-click immediately moving the character to the cursor without waiting for them to walk across the moderately large rooms.

Quasar can be downloaded from the developer’s website.


Digiwoog Disaster

On Woogi World, Jett Woogman is the Woogi you call when something needs investigating. When a strange craft falls out of the sky in a remote area, Dr Wiggenstein calls on this hero to find out what it is. Using the doctor’s jetpack, Jett should be able to get to the crash site in no time. Unfortunately, the good doctor lent his jetpack to his less-than-brilliant assistant Weegor, who has lost the various components. Perhaps the latest hand-held device, the Digiwoog, and the many apps that can be downloaded for it will help Jett piece together the jetpack and solve the mystery.

 

A spin-off from the Woogi World online game, this light adventure aims to teach kids about the joys and dangers of mobile devices. Keeping its target audience in mind, the graphics are done in a brightly coloured cartoon style. The Woogi inhabitants are lozenge shaped with faces on them, floating hands and legs poking out the bottom. The backgrounds are all nicely detailed, be it the futuristic doctor’s lab or the junkyard home of his assistant. The game is fully voiced to a good standard, with the exception of Weegor, who communicates using illustrated signs. Gentle music forms the background, with some tunes proving eerily familiar, such as a reworked version of the Godfather theme at a local crime lord’s home.

As befits an adventure aimed at children the tone is light, with a gentle humour. This simple point-and-click game is intended to be the first in a series, and in this episode you’ll gain a handful of apps for your Digiwoog, all of which prove useful at some point in your quest. You’ll also rescue a hapless Woogi who gave out her password and is now locked out of her own account by a malicious hacker. As well as using the Digiwoog, you’ll solve a dialogue puzzle and some standalone challenges, such as a coin-sorting test. Once retrieved, the jetpack is also used in a simple keyboard operated minigame. The challenge is well suited to young players, though adults may still get some fun from the humour of the setting.

Digiwoog Disaster can be played online at Newgrounds.


Wretcher

On a dark and stormy night, a man flees from a shadowy figure bent on his destruction. Seeking shelter in a run-down house, the man hides from his mysterious pursuer. But his choice of sanctuary may prove even more dangerous than the threat he was fleeing from. Creatures lurk in the walls, mystical symbols are painted on the floor and an imposing stone gate sits at the centre. What lies beyond the gate may make him wish for a quick death.

 

Alan v Drake’s short horror tale proves a truly unnerving experience. The moderately low-resolution rooms and corridors of the abandoned house are lit solely by candlelight, supplemented by occasional bursts of lightning in the windowed rooms, making for a foreboding atmosphere. Many rooms and hallways take up only a small proportion of the screen, adding to the claustrophobic feel. The contents are no less unsettling, with one room in particular presenting a horrific vista as a result of a certain player action. As well as sound effects like thunder, the background audio is less music and more a collection of subtly disturbing noises.

You will navigate this house of horrors using the standard four-cursor controls. Initially you will solely be looking for a way to escape your ghoulish stalker, but once this is solved you will delve further into the strange building you’ve ended up in. Inventory use and combination is the key to most of the puzzles, though a keen eye on the environment to spot useful places to use objects is also a plus. This is not to say the game consists of pixel hunting, as hotspots are distinct from their surroundings and decently sized for interaction. You will also need to use rapid button clicking to escape peril at one stage. There are a few places where your character can meet his end, but an immediate restart is available in all cases. The story has enough to prove satisfying to finish, whilst whetting the appetite for a proposed larger game to come.

Wretcher can be downloaded from the AGS website.


Fribbeldib

Whilst his parents jet around the world, Jarem is content to hang around at home doing nothing. Then he receives news that his rich aunt has died suddenly and her affairs need to be put in order. With his parents unreachable, Jarem is ready to take on the task, with the thought of a hefty inheritance only partly in mind. Unfortunately, without such an inheritance, Jarem is a bit short on the funds needed for the train journey to his aunt’s home in the small town of Dandledare. Looks like Jarem will have his work cut out for him if he is going to address his aunt’s final wishes.

 

60pm has created a game that makes up in charm what it may lack in looks. The backgrounds often have odd perspectives and are fairly low-resolution. Despite this, the majority of objects are generally recognisable, with the look-at cursor option quickly resolving any others. Some areas also appear to have elements scanned from photographs, making for a more realistic look. Characters are highly pixelated, with individual large squares for eyes and blocky outlines. The limited animations work reasonably well with these, as actions like Jarem adjusting his jacket display clearly. The background music is a variety of jaunty tunes that vary from location to location.

What really makes the game a pleasure to play is its sense of humour. Dialogue options are littered with irrelevant but witty exchanges and examining many objects produces an amusing response. Once you’ve found a phone you can not only call any number you find, but dialling random numbers allows you to make a whole series of prank calls. Even simply looking in your mirror produces a funny, breaking-the-fourth-wall moment. This game proves to be just the first chapter of the action, with the suspicious nature of your aunt’s death shown in the opening cutscene not addressed as yet. Instead, you’ll use inventory and dialogue in order to acquire the ticket you need. There is also a tough Sudoku-style challenge, though clues to this are available in-game for the alert player.

Fribbeldib can be downloaded from the AGS website.


The Visitor Returns

In their fictional depiction, aliens often come in one of two types. The first are the benevolent aliens who wish only peace and to share their advanced technology with us. The Visitor is definitely of the second type, bent on gruesomely slaying every living thing it comes across. Worse, it also builds the special abilities of its victims into its own form, making it an ever more efficient killer. Taking the role of this vicious creature, can you lay waste to the locals at a remote trailer site?

This sequel to The Visitor from zeebarf is not for the young or faint-hearted. The graphics feature a semi-realistic cartoon style, with the residents of this planet depicted in proportion and with full expression. The animations are well done, such as the slow slithering movement of the Visitor’s initial slug form and the rapid movements of a raccoon. The Visitor’s attacks are rendered in an extremely gory fashion, entering its prey’s body by some means before bursting out in a new configuration. To back up this horrific action are some suitably squishy sound effects, together with a subtle and disturbing piece of background music straight out of a science-fiction horror movie.

Controlled through a basic point-and-click interface, the Visitor starts off in quite a vulnerable state as a small slug-like being. Players must therefore start out subtly, using the alien’s limited ability to move small objects remotely to distract its prey. As it gains more abilities over the course of the game, like skunk spray and spider-web shooting, it becomes more able to tackle foes directly, though it can still be killed if you are not careful. Fortunately, such deaths result in the current scene simply resetting, rather than a game over event. For most of the game, an appropriate ability is automatically selected when a clicked interaction requires its use. In the final puzzle, where a wide variety of abilities are available, players are given full control over the abilities to use, with six different hideous deaths to be found for its last victim.

The Visitor Returns can be played online at Kongregate.

Continued on the next page...


Related Games

Space Quest II remake

Platform(s): PC

Quasar

Platform(s): PC

Digiwoog Disaster

Platform(s): PC, Mac

Wretcher

Platform(s): PC

Fribbeldib

Platform(s): PC

The Visitor Returns

Platform(s): Mac, PC

11-11-11

Platform(s): PC

Night and Day

Platform(s): PC

Loondon

Platform(s): PC, Mac

Myosotis: Chapter 1

Platform(s): PC, Mac



About the Author
stepurhan's avatar
Steve Brown
Freeware Coordinator

Following Freeware



Comments

Arial Type Arial Type
Jan 27, 2012

Indeed, a wonderful time for Space Quest fans! But where is Space Quest Incinerations, the third game that came out on 11 Jan? Also a very solid production as far as I can tell.

Jackal Jackal
Jan 27, 2012

As you say, it came out in January. Wink This is the December round-up. No doubt the new game will be in next month’s. Takes a while to cover this many games.

stepurhan stepurhan
Jan 28, 2012

Yes Incinerations is on my list to look at for January.

Speaking of Space Quest, special thanks to my colleague, Rob Murrant, for doing the write-ups on these this month. Saved me having to show my woeful ignorance of the series.

inflikkt inflikkt
Jan 28, 2012

im in nostalgic bliss with all this space quest!!!  Smile  the remake of sq2 is so great! The incredible music, the fun slightly modified puzzles and amazing artwork… it is like a dream come true to be able to finally play it after waiting all these years. Smile  i also just discovered vohaul strikes back.  really impressed with it as well… and as i read this just now im discovering there is another game?!  thnx arial type! im so excited..  this is incredible Grin happy adventure game month for me here

Arial Type Arial Type
Jan 28, 2012

Ah, for some reason I thought it was a random “what do we have here?” feature Smile Never mind then, you are really doing a huge amount of work.

stepurhan stepurhan
Jan 28, 2012

Random? No siree. I scour a number of sources for adventure releases each month and then look at them all to determine what is worth covering.

But the internet is a broad place to search and I can’t guarantee picking up all the good stuff. If you want to make sure a quality release comes to my attention, this very site’s Freeware forum is the place to do it.

Bobski101 Bobski101
Jan 30, 2012

Thanks Steve!

Sergiu
Feb 3, 2012

Author of the “disturbing piece of background music” from “The Visitor Returns” here…glad you liked my music. I’ve been a fan of adventure games forever, and a follower of this site for many years…my no. 1 resource for adventure gaming.
Stay tuned for more releases :-D

Sergiu Muresan

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