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Casual Games

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Princess - 02 September 2012 02:43 PM

There are some good casual games out there while we wait for the big titles. I hope your website will continue doing monthly overview of hidden object releases. I’m personally keen on ones heavy on inventory collecting and unique style such as Drawn series.

here is the latest casual game I enjoyed:

Inbetween Land

Please post your suggestions for more releases Smile

Welcome to the group. We’re small but fiesty Smile As you have seen, we write reviews of the games we play. Please feel free to post your reviews, particularly the last one you played. That gives us information from your experiences. Just as you get information.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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Joined 2006-07-30

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I thought I would post some quick thoughts on some casual games I’ve recently finished.

Briefly, Dark Strokes: Sins of the Fathers (despite the terrible title) is a great game.  From the very beginning, I was struck by the quality of everything: the artwork, the voice acting, the story.  I found it to have one of the more interesting stories I had recently encountered in a casual game.  It had several surprising moments.  On the down side, it was fairly easy, but it was a joy to play.

I also just finished both House of 1000 Doors games, Family Secrets and the sequel Palm of Zoroaster.  Both were very good.  The story, again, in both of these is above average.  In the games, you play a supernatural genre novelist who is summoned to the House of 1000 Doors, which is a mysterious house which appears in random locations around the world, and is kind of a focal point for unresolved ghosty issues.  The first game involves several episodes resolving the issues of different ghosts, while in the second game the different episodes are more directly linked.  One surprising thing is that the feel of the sequel is very different.  The first game takes place mostly in the standard haunted house.  The second game visits China, Madagascar, and other exotic locales.  Anyway, in both games, the production is top quality.  Voice acting is the second game is better than most commercial adventure game releases.  Both are adventure heavy with scattered HOG+ scenes.  The HOG scenes involve finding items, combining items within the scene, and inset scenes within the scene.  The puzzles in both games are again easy, but both games are very lengthy.  I didn’t time them, but they were above average length.  Anyway, both are recommended.

As an aside, I realize all three are from Alawar.  I think that barring the internal Big Fish Games Studios, they are definitely the best developers out there in the casual scene.  I think in the future, I won’t hesitate to pick up one of their new games. 

Also, second aside, I again wonder how AG picks the casual games they review.  All three of these games are much superior to recent games reviewed by the site such as Dark Alleys.  I think it must come down to the fact that these games all contain HOG scenes, and the site does not seem interested in further reviewing any games that contain these scenes.  Oh well, that’s what the forums are for, I guess.

All three are great games.  And don’t let the length of text trick you: Dark Strokes is at least as good as the two House of 1000 Doors games.  Now if I could only pull myself away from the casual games to play Episode 3 of Walking Dead.  Smile

     
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I too thought the “House of 1000 Doors” games were excellent games.
The title of” Dark Strokes” put me off, but with your recommendation I will give it a try.

Just abandoned “Drawn, Dark Flight” after spending most of the time later in the game reading the walkthrough to either figure out what that puzzle required or finding where that object was that I needed. I just don’t have the patience to do some of the puzzles later in the game, skipped 4 in a row!
The graphics were as good as the original “Drawn” and the story was a good continuation, but the pixel hunting and very complicated puzzles defeated me.

     
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Just finished Theater of Shadows As You Wish. This was a very fun game. I played it on the expert level. There was a good selection of puzzles from whimsical tableaus to some pretty straight forward ones. The HOS were fairly easy, with most objects in full view.
Collecting items and remembering how to use them was made easier by a task list and map.
Two quibbles - my older CRT screen cut off a little part of the left side of the game and there was one item I needed in that area, so I had to skip a puzzle and there was one HOS object that was mislabeled. Short of those things, I would rate this game quite high; probably a good 6 hours of gameplay for a non-CE.

     
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Thanks for the recommendation, Colpet. Will definitely get the demo.

I just finished Dark Alleys: Penumbra Hotel. It was reviewed by Adventure Gamers staff a few months ago, so there is no need to do it over again. It’s basically a HOG, but without the HOs. It’s hard for me to tell whether this a a clever way to cut development costs, or a new direction for ERS Games.

I thought most of the puzzles were fair, although I really don’t like the circular puzzles that required the war medals to open them. While relatively easy in concept, they are tedious to complete. I simply do not have the patience for them. The Skip button was quite a bit slower in this game than in other ERS games. That’s a good thing. It eliminates temptation. But, in my opinion, I don’t think any “normal” player could go through the steps required to complete these puzzles before the Skip becomes available.

The ending was strange. I don’t know what actually happened. I thought the bad guy was electrocuted. (BTW, this isn’t a spoiler as the scenes described are part of an end-of-game FMV sequence that isn’t part of the game itself.) Yet he reappears. Did you and Monica get into the professor’s car, or were you left behind? Was the scene with the doberman implying that the dog was attacking the car? Or was the dog attacking you and Monica? It left me muttering “What the hell was that all about?”

Not a great game, but very playable right up to the end. Unfortunately, the ending ruined the experience. It left me wondering to what purpose did I invest my time?

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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Joined 2012-09-11

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The Dreamatorium of Dr. Magnus

A quiet game (very relaxing), music is soft almost nonexistent. No voice overs, no map. We are introduced to the story, yet it is slow in developing, which isn’t really an issue with this game…if you like to search and collect items and figure out what to do with them, the story plays secondary here.

There are 21 achievements to collect, 25 eyes of Horus to find, recipes to concoct and LOTS of exploring. There is a fair balance of HO vs. puzzle, maybe teetering on “puzzle lite”. 2 modes of play, casual and advanced. In advanced there are no sparkles and the hint button takes approximately 3 minutes to reload (there is a timer countdown to let you know).
The art work is very well done, some beautiful even. The HO’s are not a junky mess, though full, items are clear and large (no magnifying glass required here). There is a click penalty, but if you stay at a steady pace you can avoid it.

It’s a bit of a “sleeper” game….comes across as so so, yet is quite entertaining. Probably not the best selection for hard core gamers, but nice change to relax and browse…to just enjoy a real casual game Smile

     
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Thanks for the review, soulmaster. I bought this game along with Alchemy Mysteries Prague Legends this past bonus punch weekend. Played both demos and took a bit of a chance. Good to hear a positive review.

     
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I’m REALLY enjoying Angelica Weaver: Catch me when you can. Its a really high quality HOG game. By high quality, it has a nice premise, great graphics, some fantastic pacing. Can’t wait to get back into the game.

     

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Monolith - 11 September 2012 02:08 PM

I’m REALLY enjoying Angelica Weaver: Catch me when you can. Its a really high quality HOG game. By high quality, it has a nice premise, great graphics, some fantastic pacing. Can’t wait to get back into the game.

I tried the demo and liked the gameplay, but found the bobbing head in the corner too distracting.

     
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colpet - 11 September 2012 02:13 PM
Monolith - 11 September 2012 02:08 PM

I’m REALLY enjoying Angelica Weaver: Catch me when you can. Its a really high quality HOG game. By high quality, it has a nice premise, great graphics, some fantastic pacing. Can’t wait to get back into the game.

I tried the demo and liked the gameplay, but found the bobbing head in the corner too distracting.

haha, such a small issue. Tongue Shouldn’t push you away from the game at large. I thought she is a great addition to the UI, reacting to what happens in the game world. Sure, crave to see a bit of emotion in the characters face instead of moving her body to react. I was like “OMG SOMETHING SCAREY”, then you see her with a SRIOUS face, moving in a way that you would expect to be a jumpy reaction.

     

Stuart Bradley Newsom - Naughty Shinobi || Our Game: Shadow Over Isolation

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I just finished Natural Threat: Ominous Shores.  Rtrooney reviewed it earlier in the thread, so I’ll be brief.  I wasn’t as taken as he was, overall.  I thought the graphics were good, but lower res than other recent HOGs.  Music is very minimalist.  The plot is average, but at least it is a little unique.  I played on expert mode, and I found the game to be above the average difficulty for a casual game (which was nice).  Some of the HOG scenes were pretty tough.  It was sometimes a little difficult to figure out what to do next, but I prefer this to the handholding of most casual games.  There is a LOT of backtracking throughout this game.  I rarely use a map feature in games, but I definitely would have used one in this game if it had been an option (it wasn’t).  I agree that the game has a good length.  Overall, I would consider this to be an average game, and not as high quality as several other Alawar games I’ve played recently (reviewed earlier). 

I have to say, though, that I loved when the character you’re playing dies in the beginning, which becomes a prologue to the main game.  I just thought that was a lot of fun.

     
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Interplay has some interesting points. Foremost is that I really did like the game. And he/she didn’t. FWIW I’m a he, as in Robert Timothy Rooney, thus rtrooney, but I go by Tim. The one thing I don’t understand is the resolution issue. My monitor, Samsung 22”, runs at 1440x900, the optimum resolution recommended by the card manufacturer. I have the latest driver loaded.

I’ll be honest. I don’t really see a great difference in “graphic fidelity” from game to game. They all seem to be based on the lowest common denominator.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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Total Posts: 347

Joined 2006-07-30

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rtrooney - 12 September 2012 07:37 PM

Interplay has some interesting points. Foremost is that I really did like the game. And he/she didn’t. FWIW I’m a he, as in Robert Timothy Rooney, thus rtrooney, but I go by Tim. The one thing I don’t understand is the resolution issue. My monitor, Samsung 22”, runs at 1440x900, the optimum resolution recommended by the card manufacturer. I have the latest driver loaded.

I’ll be honest. I don’t really see a great difference in “graphic fidelity” from game to game. They all seem to be based on the lowest common denominator.

Just to clarify for anyone looking at the game, I did like it.  I enjoyed playing it a good deal.  It’s just that I think overall it was average compared to other recent casual games.  I pretty much just grade my casual reviews by below average, average, or above average.  No 10 point scale for me.  It was average to me on that scale.  But I certainly respect rtrooney’s assessment of the game. We would probably both agree that it was better than, say, Dark Alleys.

Re: the graphics, I play on an HD monitor.  I play all casual games in full screen mode, regardless of their native resolution.  Some casual games have different resolution options, but this is unusual.  Re: Natural Threat, I simply meant that it looked more pixelated and thus “lower res” than other contemporary casuals when playing it full screen.  But the artwork was still of good quality.

 

     
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For a long time casual game developers were designing games to fit the 640 x 480 resolution of CRT monitors. The result was that playing a game on a HD monitor at higher resolutions invatiably led to some portion of the display getting truncated. For me it was usually about one inch lopped off the right side of the screen when playing in full-screen mode. Thus, I often ended up playing in windowed, wide-screen mode. I still do on occasion. Of course games would be greatly enhanced with a larger monitor.

I don’t know what the “as-designed” average game resolution is these days. My guess is that it is considerably lower than what most gamer’s equipment is capable of.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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Total Posts: 347

Joined 2006-07-30

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Just finished Snark Busters 2: All Revved Up.  Won’t say much, except to say that, like the first one, I found this game inexplicably fun.  Both games are FROGs.  I was seriously dreading as I progressed through the game because I didn’t want it to end.  Again, story, artwork, and music is definitely nothing special, so I don’t really have an explanation as to why the games are so much fun, but they definitely are.  I will certainly pick up the third one when I see it on sale.  The only negative thing I have to say is that it was too short, definitely below average length for a casual.

     

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