Following Freeware - February 2015 releases page 3

The Furthest Station

Commuting can be a nightmare, moving through the unfeeling throng of your fellow passengers. As you push your way up the staircase out of the station, you suddenly realise you have mislaid your umbrella. Rushing back to the platform in the hope of retrieving it, you discover that your train is already gone. A trip to the Lost and Found department soon takes a decidedly odd turn, and you find yourself on a train rushing through the darkness. No one seems to know where the train is going, all wrapped up in problems of their own. Perhaps if you can help them face their problems, you can find your umbrella and get home yourself.

Created for the February MAGS competition and its “Losing Something” theme, The Furthest Station from springthoughts is surprisingly deep. The graphics are done in a fairly minimalist pixel art style. In the opening, the other commuters are represented solely as silhouettes, though with varied shades of gray. The protagonist is effectively animated and fully coloured, but with not much more detail. His simple two-piece suit is an outline with dot buttons, and his only facial feature is two dots for eyes. He is simply but effectively animated. The other characters in the game are similarly simplified, but variation in clothes and posture gives them individual character. Background music is a keyboard piece, with a rhythm backing that mimics that rattle of a moving train.

Using a simple single-button interface, you walk up and down the train conversing with your fellow passengers. These range from a hostile young punk to an escort that flirts with you openly. You can discuss a handful of topics with them, initially limited to the train, themselves, your umbrella and a single obvious feature about them. These conversations reveal that each individual has an issue upsetting them which you must seek to resolve. Such issues are often bound up in their relationships with others, and have a surprising depth for a game made in such a short time. The issues they face are common real world problems, and the results quite thought-provoking. You can also gather a small amount of inventory. Clicking on the protagonist allows you to check your inventory and think about things. In your inventory you can examine and combine items. In the thoughts list you can reflect on what you have found out about the various people on the train, which often provides clues as to how to solve their problems. Inventory is not used on the environment, but rather appropriate items become dialogue options with the right character.

The Furthest Station can be downloaded from the AGS website.


Mess Goblins

We’ve all suffered those inexplicable frustrations: the untidy mess that we were sure we’d left neat, or one half of a matched pair of items going missing. No doubt you’ve ascribed such events to a faulty memory or simple misfortune. Now the truth can be revealed. Such happenings are the actions of tiny fairy creatures called the Mess Goblins. Acting on the guidance of their ruler, the Dark Marquess, their job is to annoy the giant humiids. For young goblin Pippup, today is a big day, as it is his first chance to go into the greater world and create a mess of his own. Given a list of mess-making tasks, the eager young goblin sets out into the world of the humiids to make his mark.

In Mess Goblins, Dropped Monocle Games present us with an explanation for a lot of life’s little irritations. The backgrounds are brightly coloured, but rendered in a semi-realistic style. The mess goblins themselves are brown humanoids with big floppy ears and long pointy noses. Both the goblins and the other living creatures you encounter in your quest are fully animated. The human world is huge compared to the goblins, who appear to be less than 10 cm tall. You start off on a kitchen counter, but will explore as far as the hallway and brave the dangers of the floor near the back door as well. The background music is a simple but jaunty piece fitting in well with the mischief-making protagonist.

With the cursor a goblin paw, a simple point-and-click interface is used. Right-clicking examines items, while left-clicking interacts if possible. The game world is split into four different major locations, with travel between them achieved by a hand-drawn map. Another location becomes available after you have accomplished a specific task. Not provided with any equipment at the start, you must use the discarded human items to achieve your goals. Item combination is often important, with the linked items forming makeshift tools. The small size of the goblins makes some tasks more difficult, with one task requiring you to attract the attention of a larger creature. The overall tone is lighthearted, with many of the descriptions eliciting amusing comments from Pippup. You can report back to your mentor, Rabby Grubbledub, at any time, causing him to either acknowledge your success or remind you of the specific goals you must achieve.

Mess Goblins can be downloaded from the AGS website.


Limbo the Adventure Game

Secret Agent Brent is at the top of his game. Going out on secret missions and gunning down bad guys is his bread and butter. But in his latest assignment he has hit an unexpected snag. The head bad guy turned out to be a monster with four legs, wings, and an immunity to bullets. With Brent’s soul ripped from his body, he finds himself in the office of Death himself. It turns out the creature he faced was Necromphilylialyia, a soul stealer, and his activities have been messing up Death’s paperwork for too long. The Grim Reaper tasks Brent with finding three crystals that allow access to the demon’s home in Limbo. With the crystals residing in Heaven, Hell and the Neitherworld, it looks like he has his work cut out for him.

ManicMatt’s Limbo the Adventure Game presents a decidedly skewed version of the afterlife. The graphics use a cartoon style, and the characters are in proportion, but often sport exaggerated features such as excessive ear hair and multiple chins. You start in an area that appears to be part of the real world, with a row of shops and a green park. But your task will take you as far as the dark red depths of hell, and the shiny clouds of heaven. The characters are simply animated, including some basic facial expressions when called for. The different areas have different background sounds, and the light, cheery music in heaven is in stark contrast to the industrial beat of hell. The game is fully voiced, with the same actor somewhat noticeably performing a wide variety of characters.

The game has a darkly humorous tone and is probably best avoided by the easily offended, as a number of jokes are in questionable taste. Using the standard AGS four-action cursor, you will explore and interact with the relatively small game area. On your quest you will communicate with a man with a terrible fear of cars, a bored seller of horrible food, and a surprisingly talkative crow. Sometimes offering assistance encourages them to help you, but more often you will have to engage in devious deception to convince them to do what you want. You will also make use of a moderately large inventory, with some items seeing more than one use over the course of the game.

Limbo the Adventure 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.

Sigmund Minisode 2 by Freebird Games – The ongoing holiday tale of Drs. Watts and Rosalene continues in this short interactive interlude between full-fledged To the Moon adventures.

Detective City by Plus Ultra Games – With your detective’s badge on the line, you have ten days to turn things around in your surreal city, by fair means or foul.

Charms of Lavender Blue by Waffrus – In this visual novel, can a young girl find love in defiance of her family curse?

Reality: Chapter 1 by nearstar – When your raft drifts to shore, you find yourself alone on a mysterious island.

The Title is Intentionally Left Blank by ambitiousk – Build a shelter and eat some bears by pressing the right keys in this cute little game.

All Gone Soon by vertigoaddict – Try to get back your ex-boyfriend in this realistic short game about love that once was.

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! 

Stephen Brown and Willem Tjerkstra contributed to this article.

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