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What game have you just finished?

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As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure that was the reason why Francisco Gonzalez didn’t publish the game with WEG, probably Dave Gilbert’s meddling make him going his way.

I loved his games he did publish with Wadjet. Too bad he didn’t get Lamplight City published by them, it probably would have sold more copies. However, yes, I’m sure Dave would have made substantial changes to make the game play like the rest of Wadjets releases.

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**THIS POST IS KQ VI SPOILER HEAVY**

I just finished King’s Quest VI: To Heir Is Human for the 3rd or 4th time.

Hoo boy, do I have mixed feelings about this game. Where to even begin?

The highs! Okay, this game contains scenes that are the absolute apex, the acme, the pinnacle, the tippy-top, of the adventure game golden age. Meeting Death in the the Land of the Dead, and the narrative-descriptive poetry that oozes from every crevice of that land and every single line of dialog. Instigating a mud-slinging fight between a Stick In The Mud, a Bump On A Log, and a Rotten Tomato. A genie who gets high on breath mints. Vanquishing a quasi-Satanic minotaur to rescue a damsel in distress. Dying to fool a genie. The Voice of the Beast meeting The Beast, in an exceptionally well written adventure game sub-plot.
Also: Of all the KQ games from 1 - 6, this is the one in which every denizen of the world feels like a ‘real’ person/creature, not just a plot or puzzle device.
The voice acting is great, across the board.
The artwork and animation are some of the best of the era.
The story strikes the perfect balance between high-stakes and serious, and charming and humorous.
The puzzles are layered splendidly, so that if barking up one tree is not yielding any results, you can go bark up another tree for awhile and see if you can make progress there.
Despite the fact that you spend the whole game exploring the same screens on the same five islands from start to finish, it still feels like a great adventure.
The script, again, is wonderful.

So far so good, here are the bummers:

The game penalizes you for doing the right thing. Big time. There is a point where you can trade in your shoddy old found lamp for the lamp you need to beat the game. If you do that as soon as possible, perhaps because you are afraid that, this being a Sierra game, you’ll be stuck in a dead man walking situation if you don’t(!!!), you will not be able to access the best scenes in the game and the good ending. Boy did that stink.
Once you learn your lesson there, make sure not to miss the very easily missable key being held by one of the gatekeepers in the Land of the Dead. If you do, better hope you’ve got a ‘convenient’ save game from an hour or two ago, or you’re screwed. As if having to go back an hour or two isn’t bad enough.
Basically, this game has *more* dead ends than KQ 5, and they are even less obvious, I think.
Yes, KQ V is chock full of utter nonsense, such as the padlock in the inn’s cellar being on your side of the door, but unless you ate the pie and didn’t notice that you lost points (really, why eat that pie if you’re not prompted to?), the only stupidity that really ruins your game is the boot and cat thing.
KQ VI is LOADED with things that you can miss that will put you into the walking dead zone, and you will never ever know until it is much too late, and you’ve wasted hours wandering around looking for a solution before you finally reach for a walk through.

Look, ultimately, this is a 90’s Sierra adventure game. This stuff is to be expected. But KQ VI is often purported to be the one that finally got it right, the one that (with the exception of the meta-puzzle of choosing the correct lamp) did away with the nonsense and started to veer closer to the Lucas Arts no dead ends school of design, and that is not the case at all.

In many ways—plot, acting, graphics, script writing—it’s a far better game than any of the KQ’s that came before it. But make no mistake, this is still an old school Sierra adventure game, through and through, and if you’re not into that old school Sierra adventure game challenge, where failure is success because it’s a learning experience, then you can expect quite a frustrating experience.

One last note on the diverging paths/separate endings aspect of the game. I *love* the idea of having a ‘consolation’ prize version of the game—hey, you didn’t play optimally, but you can still win…and please come back again soon to see the whole game and get the good ending. That would be SWELL in this game, if not for the fact that you can force yourself into the consolation prize version of the game by doing the right thing too soon. This was a huge oversight on the behalf of the developer, and one that could have been so so so easily avoided, by just not having the lamp trader show up until after you solved the rainmaking puzzle.

Anyway, Final Score: 8.5/10 if you are up for an old fashioned Sierra challenge, and consider reloading and retrying part of the holistic adventure game puzzle; 7/10 if you’re not and you don’t.

 

     

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Baron_Blubba - 15 March 2021 06:35 PM

Speaking of good villains AND games I just finished, I very recently finished A Plague Tale: Innocence. Not a point-and-click adventure game, but a very adventuresome game.

I really like A Plague Tale.  It was a lot longer and higher quality than I expected.  I guess I thought it was an indy game, but it’s actually by the developer who made The Crew, which is a pretty big name open world racing game.  That said, this is not really an adventure game as it has a limited amount of mandatory combat and even boss fights.  But I guess the combat does have a sort of puzzle feel to it, since you play a physically weak character who has to rely on using the right gadget at the right time to win or avoid fights. 

The voice acting was all excellent.  Again, I was kind of expecting it to be a very melodramatic, emotionally manipulative brother/sister story.  but it wound up being a lot more complex and nuanced (Although it is a little grimdark).  And it definitely lives up to being a horror puzzle game.  Trudging deep into the rat infested environments was quite spooky. 

You start out thinking this is just going to be a historical drama about the inquisition and the black plague.  But then it takes a much more Lovecraftian turn.  This is the black plague if certain people possessed an ancient blood curse that gave them the ability to psychically control rats.  It’s a very weird and bizarre horror story that’s long enough for you to get attached to the characters.  I love it. 

The gameplay is mainly based around sneaking and manipulating rats.  You have many gadgets to manipulate rats.  Rats will avoid fire, so there are gadgets to light torches/bonfires, douse fires, break lanterns.  Rat catnip (ratnip?) forces rats to move to certain spot temporarily, etc.

The gameplay was was fun, but also definitely kind of annoying and frustrating at times.  And there were a lot gameplay elements I wish they had just done away with.  Like the stupid crafting.  Why the hell does a game like this need to have crafting?!  You could skip the upgrade crafting entirely and not really miss anything.  I guess the one benefit is that the ammo crafting forces you to be creative and use a different gadget to progress past an obstacle if you don’t have the crafting materials needed to use the obvious one. 

Anyway, if you can stand a game that has some amount of combat, I definitely recommend it.

     
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Anyway, if you can stand a game that has some amount of combat, I definitely recommend it

Sounds like a great adventurous game. I take a Liberal view of what’s an adventure game and to me this is the perfect place to discuss this game. I will have to buy and play it myself.

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russ869 - 09 April 2021 10:34 PM

Anyway, if you can stand a game that has some amount of combat, I definitely recommend it.

I agree with everything in your post, Russ. Sounds like we had very similar expectations and experiences. I knew the game was supposed to be pretty, but I didn’t know just how gorgeous it would be. I thought this was just a very well made indie title. Turns out, it’s got AAA production values, with the intimate scope and personality of a great indie game.

I was not expecting it to be so combat heavy, though. I mean, it’s relatively pacifistic, but I assumed that every scene in the game would be an environmental puzzle or a stealth puzzle. Rather, there are quite a few scenes where confrontation is necessary. Even in these situations, the confrontation is rarely head on; there is usually a puzzle element involved, such as the order in which you attack the enemies, but it’s still much less of a pure stealth puzzler than I was expecting.
Since I read as little as possible about games before playing them, I didn’t know what to expect as far as the rats go. I knew they would figure prominently, but not how they would do so. The first time I encountered them in their full swarming fury is one of the cooler moments in a game that I can remember. Throughout, they serve as an interesting and crucial mechanic, and as an interesting, crucial, and creepy set piece.

Still don’t like being played by games that force me to do things that neither I nor the main character would actually do. It’s a cheap way to elicit emotions from the player. But for all of the forced guilt, there are several legitimately lovely and heartfelt moments. I particularly enjoyed the dynamics and camaraderie between this band of kids who were brought together by tragic circumstances.

     

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Last night I completed Black Mirror II, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Can we please go back to more photo realistic PnC backgrounds? It’s all cartoon and pixel with new releases. I will probably take a few weeks break before starting BM III.

     
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I finished The Colonel’s Bequest a couple of days ago, for the first time…

...and immediately restarted it for another play through! I *never* do that!

I juuuust got the second to best rank the first time, and I’ve figured a couple of things out already my second time through that make me think I’ll get Master Detective. I *think* I know what happened in the story, but I’m not completely sure.

I enjoyed just about everything about this game. The only tiresome part is all the asking/telling/talk-abouting different topics with each character. It’s not necessary to do, but it definitely helps fill in some blanks in the story, especially if you are really paying attention to the relationships between each person.

At first blush the game is WAY ahead of its time, but once you see through the mechanics, you realize that it is only way ahead of its time.

I had dabbled with this game for an hour as a youth, and managed to avoid spoilers my whole life, until finally playing it for real. So glad I made the effort. Only having a vague idea of what to expect really made the difference between enjoying the game and loving the game.

Hint: take a shower.

Hard to attach a grade to The Colonel’s Bequest, because it is so different than all of its contemporaries, but I’d say it’s a solid 8/10, right up there with the best of the Sierra bunch in its own unique way. Looking forward to The Dagger of Amon Ra! (Please don’t spoil any of that for me in replies to this post. So far all I know about it is to get the boot and not eat the sandwich.

     

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I really like the laura bow games. I just dont like the ticking time clock aspect. Its not a minus bc clearly a design choice, but i just dont like them as a whole.

     
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Baron_Blubba - 01 April 2021 01:55 PM

I just finished King’s Quest V, perhaps the most unappreciated and misunderstood adventure game ever made. This was probably my 4th complete play through.

I hear and read a lot about the shoddy voice acting and script in this game, not exclusively but largely referring to King Graham. Fact is, KQV is one of the most brilliantly written and acted games, and KQV Graham is one of the most well written and voiced characters in gaming. Here’s the thing: Graham, and the world he inhabits, are not meant to be taken seriously. It’s straight faced deadpan comedy.The lands of Daventry, Sirenia, and Mordack’s are inherently absurd, yet they don’t know it themselves. Moon logic to them is perfectly logical logic.
For his part, Graham is a perfectly normal, logical, practical, human being—albeit one with a great sense of deadpan humor. He recognizes the absurdity of Sirenia, and plays to it, tongue in cheek. He panders to the ridiculous manners, customs, and laws of the people and the land itself. He relishes every flourish, trope, and exaggeration. His family may be in danger, but if a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, why not try and have a great time while doing it? He’s the Dread Pirate Roberts and Guybrush Threepwood combined, only unlike Guybrush, who frequently breaks the fourth wall to let us know that he knows how dumb this all is, Graham never leaves character to explain the joke.
It’s fantastic, I love it, and it’s what makes KQV the best game in the series up until this point.

But, that’s not to say it’s perfect. Far from it. Although the art is beautiful, and the journey is by far the most epic-questy of all the KQ’s so far, the flaws are many. Yes, there are way too many dead ends. KQ4 had the shovel as the only real deal breaker for me—you get it early, and have so much time to break it before you need it, it’s just not fair. In KQ V, there are so many little pixels you can miss along the way that will render the game unwinnable. The boot is the most vicious because it is the easiest to miss,  but there are quite a few others along the way.
Experienced Sierra game players will know to save early and often…but man, if I didn’t already know this game front-to-back-back-to-front, it would be frustrating.
Otherwise, the inventory puzzles are fine. Pie at yeti makes perfect sense in a zany adventure game, and if you look at Mordack’s machine the narrator will tell you that it smells really bad…so if you’ve already given the dead fish to the cat (gosh, I love this game), then the next smelliest thing in your inventory would be the cheese.
The only nonsense puzzle is waiting in just the right spot and for way too long in the library before Mordack takes a nap.

The environments are beautiful and imaginative, and this game feels like such a great adventure. I’m jaded to it by now, but mapping the desert for the first time, finding the treasure filled temple, going from oasis to oasis and eventually stumbling upon the bandits hideout, then robbing the temple…that was *amazing*!
Outsmarting the witch, exploring that scary forest, and discovering the exit through the elves world? C’mon, as a kid it doesn’t get any better than that. Well, not until you find the Rusalka in Quest for Glory IV, at least.

Oh, and Cedric is not worth making a fuss over. Much ado about nothing, he doesn’t even accompany you for most of the game.

Final Score: 8 hoots out of 10

Kings quest 5 is my favorite in that series as well. The voice acting while not great is still a lot better than what some games roll out with today. I loved the witch and harp girl. Also agree the art and graphics are gorgeous and still hold up welll. As a whole i think the kings quest series is weaker than most sierra games, but still has a lot to offer for adventure game fans.

     
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What do you think of the Police Quest series, compared to Space Quest, King’s Quest, and QFG?
I’ve only played the VGA version of the first one. Liked it, but for some reason never continued.

     

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TruthTiger - 12 April 2021 06:43 AM

Last night I completed Black Mirror II, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Can we please go back to more photo realistic PnC backgrounds? It’s all cartoon and pixel with new releases. I will probably take a few weeks break before starting BM III.

Yes to this!! I really miss traditional PnC adventures with realistic backgrounds/graphics and just overall high production values. Like you say now is all cartoon and pixel. I have actually been away from adventure games for a while because not much catches my attention anymore. I think the last one I played was Hypnospace Outlaw which it’s different and I really enjoyed, but I’m craving games like that Black Mirror series or Still Life.

     
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I recently finished Anna’s Quest.

This will be an interesting one to talk about. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience, and one of the better modern adventure games I’ve played. The story was pretty strong: I liked how took some old tropes and did something new with them. I was usually intrigued to see how the many mysteries that were folded into the plot would develop. However, the plot itself left me pretty indifferent most of the time. I was curious why certain characters were who they were, or were doing what they were doing, but there seemed to be a lack of actual story. Hard to explain…it’s the dichotomy between plot development and character development. For sure, these two elements overlap significantly on the pie chart of Good Storytelling, but I felt that they were imbalanced here.
Especially since the game ends abruptly, leaving many characters without proper closure or explanation. The game ties up one or two of a handful of dangling threads in the final chapter and closing cutscene, and leaves all the rest unresolved. This was very disappointing.
Speaking of the final chapter and closing cutscene, I’m a firm believer that the last click, or sequence of clicks, in a point and click adventure game ought to be important. Cast a spell, push someone off a cliff, smooch your true love, pull the sword out of the stone, etc. In Anna’s Quest, your last click is on a sad girl sitting on a bench. It was so anticlimactic that I would never have guessed that I had just reached the end of the game. When the ensuing cutscene concluded and the credits started to roll, my jaw hit the table and a mouthful of sweet potato hit the floor shortly thereafter. That’s it? No way! What about all that other stuff that’s been left undone?

Otherwise, the art was nice. A little too clean for my tastes in your typical Daedalic sort of way, which doesn’t leave anything to the imagination, but this is just my preference for the imaginative vagaries of watercolor, pixels, and hand-painted art in 2D adventure games.

I am a super stickler for characters, they can make or break a game for me, and after playing the first chapter of Anna’s Quest, I was very worried that I would not be able to tolerate any of them for the duration of the game. Fortunately, while I never fell in love with Anna or Ben or any of the cast, I mostly got along fine with Anna and was mostly able to tolerate Ben.
But, did anyone else feel like the theme of the game was switched up midway through? In the first half, I was getting a very strong feeling that the narrative, particularly the character of Anna, was intended to be a morality satire about trying to be a good person in an adventure game world where one must do small (and slightly less small) bad/mean things in order to accomplish their (perceived) good goals.
In the second half of the game, this line is abandoned in favor of Anna simply refusing to use her powers in any place where doing so would make the game too easy. The satire is gone, for better or for worse, and Anna is no longer playing the role of the Anti-KQ4-Rosella.

I did not like the way the chapters were handled. Each chapter was essentially an episode, taking place in its own singular location. You explore for a little while, discover all of the problems to be solved in that location, go about solving them, and move on. I know some people like this delimited form of adventuring, but to me it diminishes the sense of adventure that I cherish in the genre. The environments feel like a series of connected screens, not so much actual environments.
Still, the game does take you to some neat places. Going to hell was a particularly pleasant surprise, and the place and its inhabitants were very tastefully written.
There’s no shortage of puzzles to solves, and I appreciate the diversity; I always like a game with a balanced ratio of inventory puzzles, environmental puzzles, and logic puzzles. The challenge was just right for what I was looking for: I’d get stuck for 5 minutes, then make a break through and move on.
That said, only a few of them granted real satisfaction. Even on the harder ones, figuring out the solution usually resulted in me going ‘huh, so that’s what they want me to do. Okay, done, onward.’ Anyone reading this will know the hard to explain but significant difference between puzzle solving AHA! super-satisfaction and ‘huh…okay, that made sense, pretty good, I guess.’

So, it may sound like I’m being very harsh on this game, but here’s the thing: For all of the faint praise and damning equivocation above, I am actually quite keen on Anna’s Quest. Yes, it’s an easy game to dissect and point out dissatisfactions, missed opportunities, and frustrations with…but none of these things kept me from enjoying the game at any time (except the ending, that was disappointing). I looked forward to sitting down and playing it every day, to discovering the secrets in the relationships between all of the important characters, plugging away at the more challenging puzzles, and seeing where the story would take me next. As we discussed in the ‘Favorite Villains’ thread, I like that the antagonist is an active participant in the story, actually antagonizing Anna at every turn, rather than just looming in the background. The voice acting and script writing were mostly excellent. The supporting cast were good enough that it’s a shame that most of them were relegated to a single chapter—I would have liked more continuity—, but the flip side is that we got to meet lots of cool folks, even if only briefly. Anna is on a quest after all, she’s not settling down to make life long friends.

All in all, for all of my little quibbles, I recommend this game wholeheartedly. I’ve seen folks in the Community Play Through thread sing its praises to high heaven, stating it’s a Top 10 ‘of all time’ adventure game. It’s objectively not, but who cares? Solid 7/10

     

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Baron_Blubba - 14 April 2021 06:36 PM

I’ve seen folks in the Community Play Through thread sing its praises to high heaven, stating it’s a Top 10 ‘of all time’ adventure game. It’s objectively not, but who cares?

If you’re referring to me, it’s in MY all-time top 20 adventure games, which is very subjective and I haven’t played anywhere near every game out there. Innocent

And if not, there’s still no such thing as “objectively” rating any art form. It’s all in the eye of the beholder…

     

Last played: Oknytt (CPT) - 2.5/5 | Horizon: Zero Dawn - 4/5 | Marvel’s Spider-Man - 4.5/5 | Freddi Fish 3: The Case of the Stolen Conch Shell - 3/5 | There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension (CPT) - 4/5 | There Is No Game (replay) - 4/5 | Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (replay) - 3/5 | Lighthouse: The Dark Being (CPT) - 2.5/5 | Anna’s Quest (CPT) - 4.5/5 | Simon the Sorcerer II: The Lion, the Wizard and the Wardrobe - 4/5 | Florence - 4/5 | Alice Trapped in Wonderland - 1/5 | The Hunt for the Lost Ship - 1.5/5 | The Talos Principle - 4/5 | Tex Murphy: Martian Memorandum - 3/5 | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - 3/5 | Simon the Sorcerer (replay) - 4/5 | Portal 2 - 4/5 | Murder By Numbers - 3.5/5 | Heavy Rain - 3.5/5 | Disco Elysium - 4.5/5

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Baron B.
Regarding Anna’s Quest, I loved the way Dane drew from fairy and folk tales to develop his characters and story.  Also, despite the tragedy at the heart of it all, his use of humor was spot on.

     

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TimovieMan - 15 April 2021 05:15 AM
Baron_Blubba - 14 April 2021 06:36 PM

I’ve seen folks in the Community Play Through thread sing its praises to high heaven, stating it’s a Top 10 ‘of all time’ adventure game. It’s objectively not, but who cares?

If you’re referring to me, it’s in MY all-time top 20 adventure games, which is very subjective and I haven’t played anywhere near every game out there. Innocent

And if not, there’s still no such thing as “objectively” rating any art form. It’s all in the eye of the beholder…

Yeah, you’re right about my dumb use of the word ‘objectively’.
I have a feeling you’ve played many more adventure games than I have. What is it about Anna’s Quest that you enjoyed so much?

Lady Kestrel: Yeah, I didn’t have room to mention that, but I also enjoyed the brief encounters with the many fairy tale characters. I feel like these homages go a long way to earning the game the right to use the word ‘Quest’ in its title, since the King’s Quest series is also well known for integrating fairy tales into its stories.

I want to reiterate that I really did enjoy the game. My review above definitely sounds harsh, but I think that’s because, for some reason—perhaps a very subjective one—the game just didn’t *click* with me in a way that let me gloss over what I thought were the little flaws. It’s a much better designed game than say, KQ 5, but I’m willing to overlook all the problems with that game because there’s a magic I find in it that I don’t feel when playing Anna’s Quest.
So, very good game, highly recommended, but not in my Top 20, I suppose.

     

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