No cost... no publisher... no problem! It's mind-boggling to think how many devoted developers are working tirelessly, month in and month out, to deliver games that are not only free of charge, but free of outside interference that would impede any creative independence. As gamers, we are the beneficiaries of this abundant talent and dedication, freely shared, and it's our privilege here at Adventure Gamers to honour their efforts. With today's article, we conclude our whirlwind five-day retrospective that began with Year One, Year Two, Year Three, and Year Four. It's a lot to take in, but it's well worth the investment to catch up.
August 2014 – Generation Ship by Shide
In recent years, the Unity engine has grown more popular among developers. With its 3D capability and fairly wide cross-platform support, it’s not exactly hard to see why. It is even starting to usurp Flash as the lead choice for making online games, with Generation Ship being but one example. The setting of a spaceship in trouble is realistically rendered, with the lighting reflecting off the metal panelling and walls. Your actions can result in a ship teeming with plant life or overrun with wild animals. But this is a game that is more than just pretty graphics.
You are woken from hyper-sleep to try to save the titular ship. Various systems have been damaged in an accident, with both oxygen and power at dangerously low levels. Unfortunately, the computer that is meant to assist you has also taken damage, its behaviour circuits having been fried. It is still prevented from killing you, but it isn’t exactly inclined to help you either. In fact, in a wonderfully deadpan female electronic voice, it takes every opportunity it can to mock your efforts. Mind you, given how easily a single wrong command can doom you, perhaps she has a point.
This sci-fi flight out to a disaster flows through Ludum Dare.
September 2014 – A Tough Sell by LabLabLab
Rarely do we get to play the bad guy in the story. Whilst player characters do take a lot of stuff that doesn’t belong to them, they are generally on the side of right. It is therefore always refreshing when a game like A Tough Sell comes along, and we get to play a character that is indisputably up to no good. The antihero in question is the wicked stepmother from the tale of Snow White. Your task? To successfully convince Snow White to eat the poisoned apple that you have prepared for her.
Disguised as an old woman, you stand outside the house of Snow White and the dwarfs with your basket of apples. When she first answers the door, Snow White is most reluctant to converse with an unexpected stranger. As you win her over, she emerges from behind the door and makes her way towards you. But take care: arouse her suspicions and she could be back behind a closed door in no time. As a purely conversational text adventure, the game uses a text parser for your side of the dialogue, and you will need to pay attention to responses if you are to win your target over.
For those feeling up for a bit of wickedness, the game can be found online at the developer’s website.
October 2014 – The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo by Michael Lutz
If you’ve come across a horror story on the internet that purports to be true, you’ve probably stumbled across some creepypasta. With their roots in the real world, these tales are ripe for disturbing horror games, and The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo is just such a game. The story starts off pleasantly enough, with you going over to a friend’s house for a sleepover. He always has the best games, with his eponymous uncle cited as a source. But as the evening wears on, things get weirder, and the news that the uncle is going to pay a visit that very night is not as good as it might seem.
This is a truly disturbing tale, with the horror building very slowly. The presentation is entirely text-based, with hyperlinks in the text giving you a choice of further actions. Some actions open up new possibilities, whilst others move the clock along, with the visit scheduled for midnight. The game has multiple paths, with a total of five different endings available at the start. One of these unlocks a further ending, which on replay gives you a much more satisfying conclusion to the tale than the others. Unfortunately, the lack of a save system does mean unlocking this special ending will require at least two playthroughs in a single session. With a reasonable reading speed, I got through in about an hour, and I would highly recommend setting aside the time to do the same.
Creeping yourself out completely is as simple as heading over to the online game at JayIsGames.
November 2014 – Vortex Point 5: Monster Movie by Carmel Games
After a while you start to see the same developer names turn up again and again each month. Depending on their abilities, this can be cause for celebration or frustration. With Carmel Games, it can go either way as the sheer rate at which they produce games almost guarantees a range in quality. Vortex Point 5: Monster Movie is one of their better games. Vortex Point is a town that acts as a magnet for all-things-supernatural. As in the previous instalments, you take on the role of psychic investigator Kevin as he finds himself in a 1940s horror film. The cartoon graphics are smoothly animated as always (though not as brightly coloured as normal) and all the characters are fully voiced with wild enthusiasm.
I have only just got round to playing this game, which undoubtedly sounds contradictory when it appeared in Following Freeware back in November 2014. But having extensively covered both the many games and people at AdventureX 2014, I was completely written out for the month. Fortunately by this point I was not writing the articles alone. My colleague, Willem Tjerkstra, had been assisting for some time, and for the first time flew solo for an entire monthly article. For a while our write-ups were mixed together, often without specific authorship citation, but since we each have our own tastes and opinions and writing styles, now they are split between “Steve’s Selections” and “Willem’s Winners” (even though we often agree on which games are worth covering each month). With two heads being better than one, there should never be a month that goes by where the budget-conscious gamer won’t get plenty of tips on where to find new things to play.
To take your role as the hero in a classic monster movie, dive over to the online gaming portal MouseCity.
December 2014 - Mu Complex: Episode 1 by StudioCime
We play games to escape the mundanities of life, like an office job sitting in front of a computer. That being the case, making a game that seems to have you doing just that would appear to be an odd choice. But Mu Complex: Episode 1 proves more than it seems at first. Apparently offered a position at the mysterious Mu Complex research facility, you have to perform a series of tasks to prove your worthiness for a role there. As you work up through the levels of access, you find hints about the experiments conducted there. But what is their ultimate goal?
The interface is a simple text-based command line. With this you enter programme instructions of increasing complexity as you progress through the game. Typing “help” calls up a list of the commands available and instructions for their use. The fact that there are only a handful of commands on each level may deceive you into thinking that this game will be simple to beat. The truth is anything but, as you have to create complex series of commands and solve difficult riddles. Getting to the end is truly a victory hard-earned, and with a solid story that continues in a sequel, this series is well worth a look.
Your application to join Mu Complex awaits you, with the online portal Kongregate hosting its testing platform.
January 2015 – You.Me.Hell. by Biscuit Placebo
Human relationships can form an important part of the story in adventure games. Sometimes these are played for drama, other times they are played for laughs. You.Me.Hell. is definitely in the latter camp. Tova is always on the verge of breaking out into a violent rage, whilst her partner Tor is about as laid-back as a person could be. Now the conflict between them may or may not have taken them to hell. As well as the rocky environs of the underworld, this tale will take you into their past, including the party where they met. Is this unhappy couple doomed?
This is one of those games where grasping the internal logic of the game world is important to success. Dealing with a cranky sentient computer and having a friend who can extract the 1s and 0s from CDs are just par for the course. You get to play as both Tova and Tor throughout the course of the game, with each taking a very different approach to life. Whilst the difficulties of their relationship can sometimes be a bit on the pointed side, the game is in essence a lighthearted one. This tone is enhanced by the graphics, which are presented in a somewhat goofy papercut style. The story might not make a great deal of sense, but for those with a slightly twisted sense of humour, this is one to check out.
Available across multiple platforms, this tale of a less-than-heavenly relationship can be acquired from the developer’s website.Continued on the next page...