Latest User Reviews

Review of Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned

Rating by Intense Degree posted on May 22, 2012

Truly great game despite some problems

This game has come under some criticism due to the “interesting” 3D graphics and one infamous puzzle amongst other things. Also the control mechanism is not to everybody’s taste. It was brave to try something new here but it was quite hard to get used to and I don’t think I was really comfortable with it by the end. Personally it was great to see the “real” Gabe and Moseley back and whilst Tim Curry has come under fire for his performance here I thought it was fine, or at the least I was so pleased to see him back I didn’t care! The other big change in this game is the feeling of space and time. It is set in a sleepy French village and the pace of the game really reflects that with time seeming to stand still throughout most of the game. However, this is not a bad thing. The story, and at least one of the puzzles, are probably the most complicated in any game, there is a lot to get your head round and the relaxed pace helps with this. That said, there is not the same sense of urgency, moving around and getting things done that the first two had. In short, the game is different from the first two in many ways. It is, however, still a really good game. The characters are not quite as dynamic this time but are still interesting and the slight loss of personality really comes from the blocky 3D rather than less good writing on Jane’s part. The feel of the game verges more on an “experience” in some ways than a game, but it is a good one and one in which you need to immerse yourself in to really get the most of this game. Having said that, there are no lack of puzzles, characters and everything you would expect from a traditional AG. Casual players may well give up on this within minutes, but if you enjoy a challenging and involved AG then this is a must. Despite the criticism above, this is a very good game by Jane Jensen, and that really tells us all we need to know. Time Played: Over 20 hours

Review of Black Mirror II

Rating by emric posted on May 22, 2012

very impressive and engrossing sequel. a definite favourite!

this is pretty much the perfect sequel to 2003's "Black Mirror". It doesn't really put a foot wrong anywhere. While I enjoyed the original game a lot, it certainly had some issues. In the sequel, these issues have all been identified and corrected. It takes place 12 years later and the new lead character is much more likeable. the voice acting is high quality. the control system is probably the best i've come across in an adventure game. it retains the feel of the original but loses the annoying quirks. the added functionality of the scroll wheel was particularly appreciated (i hope all adventure game developers take notice of this). The game begins in America before switching midway to the familiar Willow Creek locale in England. One of the most enjoyable things about this sequel was exploring these same locations in a very different context—similar to 'dreamfall' after 'the longest journey'. the story is a fantastic extension. i was expecting this game to feel a little odd, because it was made by a completely different developer, but they've expertly matched the exact black mirror dark mystery deal perfectly, making it a very seamless experience. in all technical areas the game is top-notch too. and the reason this surprised me is that the only other game i've played by the new developer, cranberry productions, is last year's "Mata Hari" which i categorise as 'awful'. they've completely raised the bar with this effort, so yay for them. and they're currently working on 'black mirror 3: the final chapter', so i'm looking forward to that heaps. Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of The Black Mirror

Rating by emric posted on May 22, 2012

very atmospheric and immersive dark mystery. unlikeable main character may be an issue for some.

this is great dark mystery adventure game from back in 2003. very atmospheric and immersive. graphics, sound and story all quite strong. the actual writing was mostly fine (occasionally disappointing). unfortunately the main character is an arrogant prick at worst and generic & wooden at best. for me, the strength of the story overshadowed this shortcoming easily enough, but for others it could be quite a deterrent. the gameplay is a bit quirky. there's a half-dozen or so instances of punishing pixel-hunting. hotspots become inactive after you've read their description, but then may become active again later when they become important. this tested my patience sometimes, and would've been a major issue if the available gameplay areas were any larger. but to the game's credit (or possibly my enduring patience) i never had to consult a walkthru. it was odd that they decided to include two puzzles which for most players would require external research (i.e. exiting the game and googling western zodiac symbols for one and order of planet sizes for the other). the ending will polarise players, but i think i'm happy they went that way. it's a satisfyingly lengthy adventure (took me just over 20 hours) which i'm very glad i played. after 7 years, a sequel was finally released and i look forward to playing it next :) Time Played: Over 20 hours

Review of Beneath a Steel Sky

Rating by emric posted on May 22, 2012

a retro piece of british adventurey sci-fi goodness

This is definitely one of the better examples of retro adventure gaming! The puzzles are all pretty much inventory based. but like many adventure games of it's time, it does suffer from some annoying pixel-hunting. What makes it stand out is the creative sci-fi scenario and quality of comedic writing in character interactions. It was like a british LucasArts comedy :) Your robotic sidekick Joey is hilarious. Although unlike LucasArts adventures, there were instances where your character can die, especially towards the end, which were probably meant to heighten the tension and danger but which really only served as save/restore annoyances. I'm thankful that the original Developers, Revolution Software, have made this title freeware and that it's easily playable on modern systems via the ScummVM emulator. Even though the game is around 15 years old, I was glad to learn that Revolution software are possibly planning to (eventually) make a sequel (?) If so, it'll certainly be interesting to see how/if they manage to achieve the feel of the original, in a modern adventure game. Time Played: 5-10 hours

Review of Art of Murder: Hunt for the Puppeteer

Rating by emric posted on May 22, 2012

definitely better than the first 'art of murder'. still hindered by poor english translation

The main problem i have with these "Art of Murder" games (this is the second one) from City Interactive is complete lack of originality. The characters are stereotypical and the plot is totally trying to emulate much better games such as "Still Life". However, what they have going for them is a strong implementation of the traditional adventure game constructs with pleasingly acceptable production values. So I still had a very enjoyable time playing this title. The puzzles showed a mostly pleasing balance of challenge, without becoming so illogical that you're stuck for long -- although on a few occasions it dropped into the realm of overly MacGyver-ish inventory combinations. This sequel came out quite quickly after the original game and is based on the same engine. It feels exactly the same to play. I enjoyed it more though mainly due to more atmospheric locations and more interesting story. City Intercative are still showing some problems with translation of their games to English and I hope this is addressed in upcoming releases. None of these hinder the gameplay too much, but certainly make the title seem a bit unpolished (the translation of the user manual is categorically atrocious!). Voice acting, music, graphics, cutscenes... all quite strong. Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of Art of Murder: FBI Confidential

Rating by emric posted on May 22, 2012

not overly poor, but certainly not a standout either. awful english translation/localisation effort.

this is a reasonable investigative thriller adventure game. not particularly strong in any aspect, but quite adequate in most. it was saved from feeling quite flat by a strong lead voice performance. otherwise the characterisations were quite weak. the plot was kinda "still life" lite. the game was made by a Polish developer, City Interactive, and whoever did the english translation/localisation was not up to scratch for a professional project. although you could mostly understand the intention of phrases, and therefore follow the game's progress easily enough, it was quite obvious that things just didn't sound right. The puzzles were straight-forward enough. It wasn't a difficult game and could be considered a little short. The pre-rendered graphics were a highlight. It was a very familiar adventure game interface which worked tidily. Music was ok. but the ending was awful! it's like the developers ran out of time in the final cutscene and I'm still confused about what actually happened. It's the first adventure from City Interactive, and they show enough promise that with some improvements (definitely including a better localisation team) they may come up with something special in the future. Time Played: 10-20 hours

Review of A Vampyre Story

Rating by emric posted on May 22, 2012

strong visuals and music, but i was quite disappointed in all other aspects

So after many many years since the demise of LucasArts adventures, some of the people behind all those great games formed their own company (Autumn Moon Entertainment) and have begun making adventure games again. The first of these is 'A Vampyre Story'. It feels very very much like a LucasArts game, so fans of their previous classics will most likely be pleased. For me though, it kinda reminded me why i usually preferred Sierra games to LucasArts games way back in the 80s & 90s. It's a comic and light-hearted experience which is very very heavy on inventory puzzles. I know inventory puzzles are one of the main staples of adventure gaming, but I begin to get frustrated when the puzzles are illogical enough that you end up just clicking random inventory combinations or every combination of inventory item on random hotspots just to work out what to do next. And for me, this was the experience all throughout 'A Vampyre Stroy'. However, if a game's characters and story are strong and engaging enough, then there is still motivation enough to work through these puzzles and the experience is less frustrating. But sadly, I didn't find that was the case with 'A Vampyre Story' either. It did fail to capture much of the charm and wit of earlier LucasArts classics. One of the biggest issues is the writing... it's supposed to be witty and funny, but it just isn't. Instead it's cringingly try-hard humour much of the time. The voice acting is somewhat controversial also. Mainly because the main character, Mona, has such a high-pitched whining voice, that probably suits her character, but I found it terribly difficult to listen to and almost relented into turning the voices off altogether. I settled for turning them down to 50% volume just to take the edge off her voice. But the issue with her voice acting is deeper than that. I found in almost all her sentences the accent would be strong at the start and then disappear towards the end -- of each sentence! As you can imagine this produced a very odd listening experience. Thankfully the voice acting problems end there and all of the supporting cast put in very strong performances. Where this game really shines is in the graphics/art direction. It's comic stylings look brilliant and the colouring is superbly lush! The music is also quite good. I did also come across one gameplay bug involving the perfume bottle/refill inventory items which makes it impossible to complete the game. Thankfully I found some help in an online forum that enabled me to edit save game info so that i didn't have to restore way back and replay. but the existence of such a bug shows some unfortunately sloppy testing! hopefully it's been patched by now. Overall I guess I just found that I didn't care much about the main characters -- a somewhat dim and whiny, vampire-in-denial and her try-hard wisecracking bat sidekick. Autumn Moon have announced a sequel (which is kinda necessary cos they left the story quite unfinished) but I hope they're able to expand so they can work on two projects at once... cos I'm still interested to see what else they can produce outside this first franchise. Time Played: 10-20 hours

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