Hurtling out of the sky, a rocket ship crashes onto the roof of a tall tower. Its occupant, Edmund, has no idea where he is, but he is obviously not going anywhere else in his destroyed craft. Making his way down to ground level, he finds himself in a most peculiar place. Many of the buildings are closed off and the people seem odd. Struggling to figure out where he is and how to get away, he discovers a closed information office. Perhaps if he can find a way inside, he will get the answers he seeks. But with a man stationed on permanent watch in front of the building, it is going to take cunning and subterfuge to find a way in.
In Somewhere, sulhyd presents a quest for identity and place. The character graphics are slightly cartoonish in nature, though the locations have a more realistic look. Apart from the lead character – a short figure encased in metal – walking around, there is no animation. Starting from the lofty flat roof where you crash, you will travel through grey city streets to the edge of a small swamp. Each location comes with its own background sound. Music plays within the walls of the tall tower, whereas out on the streets you hear the hubbub of a crowd.
As indicated by the title, your main quest is to learn where you are. Control involves the standard AGS mouse scheme, with right-click cycling between four possible actions. These are walk, look, interact/take and speak, which are activated using left-click. Speaking to everyone you find will shed some light on your plight, as well as provide clues on how to progress. It is also worth examining everything you come across carefully. This is somewhat hampered by a lack of hotspot labels and the fact that the cursor gives no indication if you are pointing at something interactive. A little improvisation with inventory will also serve you well. Whilst the puzzles to reach the end are relatively simple, you would be well advised to take your time. There are multiple endings, with the endings getting better the more you discover along the way.
Somewhere can be downloaded from the developer’s itch.io page.
Space Rangers: Episode 46 – The Devil Within
Special Agent Yaz KreJonns is sent to a distant planetoid where a team that was mining for dilithium crystals has gone missing. Because she messed up a previous operation, and because dilithium is a quite volatile substance, KreJonns is not given any weapons, which of course makes things a bit complicated for her. When she arrives she finds the planetoid abandoned, and learns what has happened from some surprising sources. It's up to you to make Special Agent KreJonns succeed or fail!
The latest adventure from Grok (Jacqueline White series), Space Rangers: Episode 46 – The Devil Within is made like a tribute to Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek. The game – which despite having “Episode 46” in its title is actually the first in the Space Rangers series – takes place within some rooms above the dilithium mine and in one of the mine shafts itself. It is presented in third-person mode in an appealing and – once KreJonns has managed to switch the main power on – quite colorful style of watercolor/ink paintings. All backgrounds are drawn in rather thick lines, while KreJonns displays a bit more detail with finer lines, which makes her stand out nicely. Ominous sounds accompany the gameplay, and effects like opening doors, pressing buttons, an elevator moving and an explosion fit the science fiction theme well. Unfortunately, there are no voices. All spoken text is shown on screen next to a head portrait of the person speaking.
Right-clicking lets you cycle between look, walk and grab/use, while left-clicking causes KreJonns to perform the desired action. Her handy tricorder is located at the top left of the screen. Along with her inventory and buttons for loading, saving and quitting the game, it also contains a neat scanner, the function of which is revealed during play. There are not many puzzles in this short game, but those present are rather original and very well thought-out, integrated nicely into the story. Most of them involve communication rather than using objects. The witty dialogue, the subtle references to various well-known sci-fi stories, the interesting ways in which KreJonns can die, and the multiple different endings make Space Rangers: Episode 46 – The Devil Within well worth playing.
Space Rangers: Episode 46 – The Devil Within can be downloaded from Game Jolt.
Last month it was Halloween and a myriad of horror-themed freeware adventures came our way. One of them was Carmel Games' Midnight Cinema, in which Vova really wants to see a new horror movie called “Slash”. Unfortunately it's all sold out, but as luck would have it his friendly neighbor Randy has a ticket he doesn't need. But Randy won’t just give it up for nothing, so he asks Vova to bring him a pizza and coffee and have a book signed by his favorite author Lisa Westberg in exchange.
Midnight Cinema is presented with the familiar colorful drawings in third-person we are used to from Carmel Games. Because the game takes place at night, most of the scenes are fairly dark, but no pixel hunting or brightness adjustment is necessary. The gameplay is accompanied by a repeating xylophone tune that luckily can be switched off. The voice acting is outstanding, with everyone having their own distinct voice. All spoken text subtitles are shown at the top of the screen next to an image of the person speaking. There aren't many sound effects but the ones there are, like Vova whistling if he needs a taxi or him taking an object, are adequate. Vova has to roam the city to reach his goal and visits a pizzeria, a bookstore, a coffee house, a store for Halloween paraphernalia, and of course his apartment building and the cinema.
Only the left mouse button is needed for interaction. The inventory is in the lower right corner of the screen, and in the upper left corner are the buttons for the game's menu and a walkthrough. It would have been nice if there were an opportunity to save, because Midnight Cinema is longer than other Carmel games, taking me between 30 and 45 minutes to play. It’s worth sticking with it to the end, though, as the developers have really outdone themselves here: the puzzles are more difficult than usual and there's more attention to detail. There are even a few jump scares, and you can play an adventure-game-within-the-game on the computer in Vova's room! The obstacles are well-integrated, and although they're mostly inventory-based they are often not very easy to solve. All of this makes Midnight Cinema one of Carmel’s best.
Midnight Cinema can be played online at Kongregate.
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.
Romance is Dead by Tall Tales Productions – A young female student meets a mysterious young man who seems oddly out of place in this visual novel.
House by isaacnite and ChrisRats – A young girl left alone in the house makes some unpleasant discoveries in this low-resolution horror game.
Gogo get the Glow by Sylvester Hansen – A 17-year-old girl who wants to become a police officer is determined to catch a criminal to prove her worth.
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!
Article written by Stephen Brown and Willem Tjerkstra.