After a few light months for free indie adventures, the dam has burst in a big way. This time around you can you can get trapped with a deranged killer in a vaulted cathedral, or stuck in a malfunctioning cable car suspended above a mountain. You could choose to follow the exploits of one woman whose sunny island getaway is hampered by lost luggage, or another seeking to get away from her mundane life by joining a mission to space. Alternatively, you might ascend to the heavens to become an angel seeking to help an abused boy, or crash back down to earth as a man who finds his home changed horribly for the worse after a three-year absence. If that isn't enough choice, you can dive into any of the whopping 121 games submitted to a two-week Adventure Jam, a dozen of which are covered here, having earned top honours from the judges. All these await you in this month's round-up of releases from the freeware scene.
Martha is on vacation in the mountains, where she has just written a postcard and is taking the cable car down to the village to post it. Unfortunately, on her way back up, the cable car malfunctions and she is left hanging. Now it's up to postal worker Rita to rescue Martha, but this is more complicated than it looks, involving tasks like chasing away an abominable snowman, finding a cassette tape, and climbing a large rock.
Simon Reid’s Hang On is presented in quaint pixel art drawings in soft colors, of which blue and grey are the prevailing hues. Apart from the inside of the chalet Martha has rented, the game world consists of a mountain path, a cave and the edge of the village where the post box stands. There is no background music or voice acing, as all spoken text is shown on the screen in a different color for each speaker. There are a few sound effects though: a sort of blip that plays when a character takes something, and the call of a golden eagle, both of which sound very simple.
Hang On has two playable characters, Martha and Rita, which is quite unique for such a short game. Both of them are controlled using the mouse. They go where you direct them, while right-clicking an object makes them give a description of it, and left-clicking causes them to interact with it. All puzzles are inventory-based and not hard, so solving this neat and cozy little game will only take you about 20 minutes.
Hang On can be downloaded from the Adventure Game Studio website.
Fun, Sun & Mishaps
Brandy Watson arrives at her Hawaii hotel ready for a week of sand and sea, only to discover that her wallet with all her money and ID has been stolen. On top of that, her luggage was mislabeled so that could be anywhere on the planet! Without identification she is not allowed into her hotel room. The only thing she can do now is roam the island in search of money and a place to sleep. She soon learns where to get a fake ID, but she must first help the person who can make it for her. Thus starts her vacation adventure at the sunny Hawaiian Ìlio hae po'o moku (Wolf's Head Island).
Fun, Sun & Mishaps, by Anne Hemenway, is a cheerful game displayed in bright colors on beautifully designed screens. Brandy explores only part of the island: the beach, the hotel and a little nearby town called Wahi Kauhale (Little Village). The rest is dense jungle in which she isn't interested. Everywhere she goes there are gorgeous flowers in all colors you can imagine, palm trees and lush grass. The beach is wide and inviting. You’ll hear birds chirping and singing everywhere, and music at the bar and in the hotel's elevator. There are a lot of well-made sound effects as well, like the lift doors opening and closing, the loud fan in the hotel lobby, and a gumball machine. There is neither background music nor voices, with subtitles shown on screen in large letters.
Brandy walks where you click, and hovering the mouse cursor over hotspots makes it change to indicate a direction you can go or an action you can take (you can speak not only to people but to other things as well). Moving the cursor into the black area underneath the playable area brings up links to the inventory, a map of the island that you can use to instantly travel to locations you have visited before, and the game's menu. The puzzles are diverse but not very difficult: you will feed fish, use a metal detector, rummage through trash and do many other things in this game, which is mostly about enjoying the island's atmosphere and its quirky inhabitants. Brandy and some locals have rather dirty minds, resulting in many sexually-oriented jokes, but it never gets kinky; it's all rather innocent fun.
Fun, Sun & Mishaps can be downloaded from the Adventure Game Studio website.
Rosaura Docelestial: Rescue from Despair
Somewhere on Earth, a boy is being mistreated by the people around him. He is beaten for even the smallest mistakes, and even when he does good it seems that nobody cares. His birthday is coming soon, but it looks like no-one is interested about even that. "Nobody knows I'm alive!" he cries. "Not even God knows I'm alive." But an angel, Rosaura Docelestial, hears his cries and decides to help the poor boy. She easily finds out what he’d like: a birthday cake, roller skates and a stuffed toy. Getting these together requires trading some stuff of her own, gathering parts of a cloud and giving a man a flower.
Rosaura Docelestial: Rescue from Despair, by DBoyWheeler, is presented in a minimalist style using simple shapes with hardly any detail and just a few bright colors. The characters are a bit more detailed than their surroundings, all differing clearly from each other and therefore easily recognizable. The game world consists of Rosaura's mansion, a few streets and the Garden of Life, in which you visit a picnic area and a quiet place with a bench. Cheerful medieval-sounding music accompanies the gameplay, the particular score depending on your current location. There are no sound effects or voice acting, but all spoken text is shown on screen, each character with their own text color.
Right-clicking cycles the cursor through the actions walk, look, grab/touch and speak, and left-clicking makes Rosaura act according to the chosen verb. Moving the cursor to the empty bar at the top of the screen makes a menu appear from which you can choose from the same actions, as well as access Rosaura's inventory and the game's menu. The puzzles are almost all small and simple fetch quests: you find something and trade it for something you need to make the boy happy. Despite its extreme simplicity though, Rosaura's friendliness and the way she interacts with the easy-going characters around her make this a charming experience that will take you around 15 minutes to finish.
Rosaura Docelestial: Rescue from Despair can be downloaded from the AGS website.Continued on the next page...