Following Freeware: November 2014 releases
With both AdventureX and the holidays chewing into our available time this year, we didn't get to all of the games on our plate this month. But for those with massive Christmas bills to pay off and/or no games under the tree, fear not, as there are still a number of fine freeware adventures to tide you over. You can be an emotional robot trying to prevent the extermination of all humans, or a paranormal detective sucked into a 1940s horror movie to solve the latest vampiric murder. A scenic Portuguese park might seem like the perfect setting for a first date until everything starts to go awry, while a quest to slay the last Oceanspirit proves a lengthy journey filled with colourful companions and loads of dirty jokes. All these await in this month’s abbreviated round-up of releases from the freeware scene (with more carrying over to next month's article).
I Want an Identity
I Want an Identity, by Akkad Estudios, is the sequel to 2007’s Quiero Morir (I Want to Die). The returning protagonist, Max, is a V-2000 robot that has the ability to feel emotions. Following the death of his maker, Max had been enjoying his life on Planet Hope. However, the robotic rebellion spreading across the universe finally reached Max's planet and he was forced to flee. Overhearing the rebels say that there are only humans left on the planet Kalam, Max tries to get there to see if he can help stop the rebels from taking over. On his quest he meets a lot of different characters and learns more about both robots and humans than Dr. Polansk could ever teach him. In this lengthy game with an epic story, Max's quest changes the way he thinks about humans, robots and the rebels, and he struggles with what he learns. He also makes mistakes sometimes. Max is quite a philosophical robot, and he often muses over how it must be to be a human.
Played from a third-person perspective, the game’s backgrounds look as if they were constructed in a 3D editor, almost all of them featuring bright colors and simple yet fairly realistic images. Some of the places Max visits look much like Earth but others are very alien, with pink sand, silver-colored trees and purple skies. Max himself is modeled in full 3D as he walks around. There are no voices or sound effects in the game, with texts displayed in a different color for each character. The action is accompanied by an electronic tune that reflects the futuristic aspect of the game quite well.
The interface is mouse-driven: right-clicking or scrolling the mouse wheel lets you choose between things Max can do, like talk, grab, and walk, the cursor changing its shape accordingly. On the top left of the screen is an inventory tab that slides down when the cursor is hovered over it. If Max has a map of the planet he is on, it can be accessed from the top right. This can be used to quick-travel, which is handy because Max has to move around a great deal. Hotspots are indicated by a short description on the bottom of the screen when highlighted by the cursor. There are inventory puzzles to solve throughout the course of the game, and you will also do some chemistry and try to get equipment like spaceships and other machinery working. In between, you’ll have to talk to robots and sometimes figure out which ones can be trusted. Max's emotions and the way he deals with his quest and the worlds around him make the game well worth playing.
I Want an Identity can be downloaded from Akkad Estudios.
Vortex Point 5: Monster Movie
In the fifth installment of the Vortex Point series by Carmel Games, it's Halloween night and almost everybody has fled the town because people are scared. Even the paranormal investigators have left, except for Kevin who remains behind. He is bored and decides to go to the cinema to watch a 1940s horror movie. The story really begins when the movie starts, because Kevin mysteriously finds himself with his own role to play in it as a detective. In this movie-turned-reality, Kenneth Robinson, a new man in town who arrived following a vampire, has been murdered! He was found dead in his house with two small bite marks on his neck and all the blood drained from his body. So Kevin sets out to investigate, and soon finds himself visiting an ancient castle, getting some planks and nails from the toy shop owner, helping a lady calm her baby, making a Ouija board for the local fortune teller and shouting at a barman to solve the case.
This fifth series installment is a small but fun detective mystery in the spirit of Halloween. Most of the game is in black and white, because Kevin has been transported to the 1940s movie he was watching. As in all of Carmel’s games, the production values here are very high, with the familiar detailed cartoony graphics and excellent music, sound effects and voice acting. For subtitles there are eight different languages to choose from, even Dutch and Chinese. The story is funny and involves a lot of helping people to get to the core of the crime.
Kevin is controlled using a single mouse click, and the game's interface is fairly simple, with a context-sensitive cursor shaped like a skeleton hand and an inventory in the lower right part of the screen. Most hotspots are easy to see, but there is one that is a bit hard to find. The puzzles are mostly inventory-based and sometimes quite difficult because it's not always clear what you have to do next, but there’s an icon in the upper left that supposedly links to an online video walkthrough, though I couldn't get it to play on my computer. Luckily you can find it on YouTube if you’re stuck.
Vortex Point 5: Monster Movie can be played online at MouseCity.
A Date in the Park
After their excellent full-length title Mudlarks, Cloak and Dagger Games have released a new, shorter adventure called A Date in the Park. The game stars Lou, who has just moved to Lisbon where he meets a nice lady named Catarina. Lou doesn't speak a word of Portuguese and is happy he’s found a friend who speaks fluent English. They agree to meet the next day near the duck pond in the Tapada das Necessidades. Lou arrives a bit early, and after having found the pond before Catarina arrives, he sets out to explore the beautiful park. Things start to get weird when he returns to the duck pond and finds a box there, addressed to him. Upon opening it, Lou learns that Catarina is playing hide-and-seek, and he delightedly sets out to find her. His search soon reveals some strange things, however, such as pigeons in a feeding frenzy, an agitated gardener, and a mother duck trying to kill its duckling, amongst others.
A Date in the Park contains some horror elements that make it unsuitable for children, but it also features a beautiful environment, rich sounds and a simple but likeable story. Though the game takes place in a real setting and photos have clearly been used for the backgrounds, the graphic resolution is quite low, and the somewhat pixelated look takes away some of the feeling of immersion. The sounds are quite well done; you hear birds singing and ducks quacking and the drone of traffic in the background. You don't hear footsteps when someone is walking, however, and I missed other obvious sounds as well, like rustling leaves or rattling gates when Lou tries to open them. There is no music or voice acting. All text is displayed in oblong boxes, with a different color for each character. At the beginning of the game, Lou babbles a lot about how lucky he feels to have found Catarina and what he likes to do with her (nothing sexual or kinky). His gabbing holds up the game a bit but he later grows less talkative and the gameplay gets smoother.
Presented in third-person, A Date in the Park is played using both mouse buttons to observe and interact. Lou walks where you click, and hotspots are indicated by their labels at the bottom of the screen. Exits are clearly indicated to show that Lou can walk to another screen, but some screens scroll, so be careful to explore everything. When the cursor is moved to the top of the screen the inventory appears. The puzzles are varied and not too hard, fitting nicely into the story. Along with standard inventory puzzles, you have to find the origin of a certain sound and get a mechanical contraption to do what you want by twiddling its knobs. The ending leaves many questions unanswered, and despite the effort that has evidently been put into this game, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed that it didn’t meet the same high standard as the developer’s previous release.
A Date in the Park can be downloaded from Cloak and Dagger’s website.
The Long Ass Walk
The Long Ass Walk is IndieRetroWolf’s contribution to the Oceanspirit collection of games. It's a short but very funny text adventure about Dennis McOrdinary, a lad who works as a livestock inseminator on his parents' farm. On the morning of his 18th birthday, Dennis is told by the Questgiver to travel to Moredoors and slay the last Oceanspirit. On his way there, Dennis gathers a Pimp Mage, a Princess and Norc McWarrior as his companions. They fight a lot of battles (of which the player learns nothing but the fact that they were fought) and Dennis discovers some interesting things about his companions on his way.
The game is presented in plain black text against a white background, complemented by very simple pixel art pictures of Dennis and the other characters he encounters. (Oddly, thanks to one strategically placed pixel, Dennis in the nude looks more like a young girl than a boy.) The game contains no music, voice acting, or sound effects at all. What actually happens on the group's journey is not nearly as important as the way this short story is told and the many naughty sexual jokes that are crammed into it. You are warned about those jokes when you begin, so you can't say you didn't know they were coming!
Once you begin, choices appear in bold blue text that you can click on with the mouse. These choices have both profound and mundane effects on the way the story develops. Even a simple decision about when to get dressed can have an impact. After Dennis gets his assignment, he jumps out of bed and you can choose to either have him go downstairs immediately or let him dress first. If he goes downstairs naked, people will look at him funny and he complains about cold and sore feet. Only by replaying the game a few times can you learn all about who Dennis's companions really are and what influence your choices can have on the story. You’ll also get to enjoy a lot of extra jokes that way, and it’s not a huge investment of time, as the game is so short you can easily play it a few times in a 15-minute break.
The Long Ass Walk can be downloaded from GameJolt.
Other New Releases
Samantha Wins by Silver Stitch Games – Find out who you are and what is happening in this short, surrealist interactive story.
Starbot by cloudhime – Explore themes of innocence, friendship and loss in a dark, dreamlike world, playing as an unfinished robot with some missing abilities.
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!